Photo of the Week
Guatemala 6-week
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    [post_date] => 2014-07-31 13:59:13
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    [post_content] => “Make room in your heart for others”

My mom put this quote on our kitchen wall years ago and I have read it every single day of my life. Although I generally ignore it, I am beginning to realize that it means a great deal. We have spent nearly a week in Pachaj with families from the community and already I feel very connected with them in a way that I didn’t feel in some of the other families. There are probably many reasons why I feel this way, but I think it is because I have opened myself up. I have let myself feel vulnerable, eating dinner with them as they speak Quiche with each other, joking around and laughing, while I smile politely, and laugh when they seem to think something is funny. I have played with the kids, enjoying their company while learning a little bit of Quiche, the local Mayan language. I have spent time conversing with Salvadora, a fantastically imaginative and funny woman who has blessed me by being my home stay mother for the last week. She and I have shared stories about our childhood, our local customs around food, and our fears and desires for the future. I have grown close to her because I have put myself out there, interested in experiencing her way of life, engaging with things like tortilla-making, an art which I will never master. The one truth is that in order to build a relationship and to receive anything in return, you need to expose your heart and be willing to bleed a little. I can assure you that you will be rewarded for your struggles, if there are any.   My mom’s little expression has stayed with me throughout my homestay experiences and I believe that when you let yourself open up, you will find yourself happier for it, and I am sure that the other person will appreciate you for it as well. As I leave Salvadora, I feel very satisfied because I have made room for her in my heart, and I have learned about a different way of life, and I appreciate her way of life in ways I never could have dreamed of. Thank you Salvadora for sharing with me all that you hold dear and for not being afraid to open up, because it has helped me open up, and I have grown tremendously as a result. Thank you Salvadora. You will always have a place within my heart.
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Guatemala 6-week

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my heart is open

Gedalia Schorsch,Guatemala 6-week

Description

“Make room in your heart for others” My mom put this quote on our kitchen wall years ago and I have read it every single day of my life. Although I generally ignore it, I am beginning to realize that it means a great deal. We have spent nearly a week in Pachaj with families […]

Posted On

07/31/14

Author

Gedalia Schorsch

Category

Guatemala 6-week

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2014-07-28 14:53:27
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    [post_content] => I tried to squat and avoid getting my pants dirty. I didn´t really want to clean them afterwards. The whole process of washing clothes seemed cumbersome to me. So I did my best to shift in a more comfortable position to plant the tree, manuevering my legs around the foot-deep hole like a crab. Many minutes of trying to find that perfect clean position led me to one conclusion: it didn´t exist.

And somehow, and to this moment I have no idea how, a smudge of dirt had found it´s way onto my pants. My perfectly clean pants. With my calves aching, I bowed my head in digust. I had soiled my plan. The pristine blank piece of paper, representing my pants, had been soiled (Sidenote, just picked up the pun). The picture was disturbed.

But a thought struck me. A blank piece of paper was nice to hold, but boring to look at it. Perhaps the most fun way of planting a tree didn´t involve me trying to avoid dirt. It involved me getting dirty.

And with that passing thought, I plumped down onto the fallen bushes and twigs. I, once again, dug my fingernails beneath the ground and felt what had been waiting for me this whole time. A rich and fine place of dirt. A thing that would allow for greater things to grow above it.
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Guatemala 6-week

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Grounded Thoughts

Will Campbell,Guatemala 6-week

Description

I tried to squat and avoid getting my pants dirty. I didn´t really want to clean them afterwards. The whole process of washing clothes seemed cumbersome to me. So I did my best to shift in a more comfortable position to plant the tree, manuevering my legs around the foot-deep hole like a crab. Many […]

Posted On

07/28/14

Author

Will Campbell

Category

Guatemala 6-week

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    [post_date] => 2014-07-28 14:49:14
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    [post_content] => This weekend in Pechaj has been packed. On Saturday we met at 8am at Chico Mendez for a market outing with our Spanish instructors. Piling into the back of a pickup (not for the first time this trip) and taking a 20 minute drive down some very bumpy unpaved roads until we arrived at the market. Each student had been given a specific list of items to buy with their instructors, because after the market we were preparing lunch. During the hour in the market we haggled down the prices for our food and spent time with our instructors conversing in Spanish. After all the supplies had been bought we got back in a pickup and drove home to prepare the food. After our lunch of guacamole, smoothies and a fruit salad, we got in another pickup truck and went for a swim at the hot springs and that concluded our Saturday. On Sunday we met early to start planning for our expedition phase of the trip. When we finished with that we drove for 10 minutes and walked for another 30 minutes up to the area that Chico Mendez is reforesting. We planted trees until around 12:30 and then came back for lunch. In the afternoon we had Spanish lessons from 2 to 4 and then with our Spanish teachers made sweet bread until 6, with that our weekend was finished and we parted ways.
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Guatemala 6-week

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The weekend in Pachaj

Jesse Kahn,Guatemala 6-week

Description

This weekend in Pechaj has been packed. On Saturday we met at 8am at Chico Mendez for a market outing with our Spanish instructors. Piling into the back of a pickup (not for the first time this trip) and taking a 20 minute drive down some very bumpy unpaved roads until we arrived at the […]

Posted On

07/28/14

Author

Jesse Kahn

Category

Guatemala 6-week

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    [post_date] => 2014-07-28 14:47:56
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    [post_content] => I have a story to share, a completely irrelevant story that I found amusing, and therefore feel compelled to share.

Some facts you should probably know beforehand: This takes place in Pachaj, a small community that I´m positive my peers have explained expertly, and therefore feel that you are duly noted on the setting of my story.

Next: everyone in Pachaj rides bikes, leading to my next fact: I needed one if I had any shot of being anywhere on time because: I am incredibly lazy and unathletic.

This final piece of information comes in handy for the beginning of my story.

My home is located a (at least in my mind) substantially far distance from the central meeting spot. Joan and I needed--correction: wanted-- to go to the internet cafe and, just my luck, she had a bike and I did not.

Here, my friends, begins my adventure.

So, she and I begain walking, her with her bike in hand, towards my house. About halfway, here´s where my laziness comes in, I begin asking strangers for their bikes.

I got a couple of laughs and a couple of people saying they weren´t the owners, so I began to lose hope and and face the fact that I was going to half to walk all the way to my house, which in retrospect, was probably a football field´s length away.

However, I continued to ask, until extreme desperation hit.

I walked past a house, a complete stranger´s house, and saw a bike in the yard.

I knocked on the makeshift door. A man walked over, looking decidedly more curious than suspicious. He asked what I wanted. In broken Spanish, I asked if I could borrow the bike in the yard and return it at 7:00 that night. Joan stood behind me, laughing.

He thought it over for a second, then finally replied, saying of course I could use the bike, and just to be careful.

I asked if I could pay him, and he said no.

And off I was.

At 7:00 on the dot (okay, more like 7:15) I returned with the bike to this man´s house. He asked if it had worked. I lied and said it had worked perfectly; it had actually broken three times, but I didn´t mind.

His face broke into a huge snile, and when I offered to pay him, he refused and said that he was just happy I had fun.

I know what you´re thinking: what is the point of this story?

And I guess all I could say is the point of the story is that not all stories need a point.
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Guatemala 6-week

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There is No Moral to This Story

Molly Gump,Guatemala 6-week

Description

I have a story to share, a completely irrelevant story that I found amusing, and therefore feel compelled to share. Some facts you should probably know beforehand: This takes place in Pachaj, a small community that I´m positive my peers have explained expertly, and therefore feel that you are duly noted on the setting of […]

Posted On

07/28/14

Author

Molly Gump

Category

Guatemala 6-week

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    [post_date] => 2014-07-28 14:45:39
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    [post_content] => Animals in Guatemala are not seen as family members like in the United States. The dogs here are adopted by people, but they sleep on the streets and sometimes are forced to find their own food.  A vet that I met at the zoo in Xela said that the conditions of the dogs have slightly improved during his 20 years of experience being a vet. For example in the cities bringing dogs to the vet is becoming more of a norm.  In the rural areas of the country there are no vets, so people don’t have an opportunity to properly care for their dogs.  Families have a hard time feeding and taking care of their own family with many children dying from malnutrition yearly.  For many families it is nearly impossible to take care of their dogs.
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Guatemala 6-week

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Family connections

Hilary Kraus,Guatemala 6-week

Description

Animals in Guatemala are not seen as family members like in the United States. The dogs here are adopted by people, but they sleep on the streets and sometimes are forced to find their own food.  A vet that I met at the zoo in Xela said that the conditions of the dogs have slightly […]

Posted On

07/28/14

Author

Hilary Kraus

Category

Guatemala 6-week

WP_Post Object
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    [post_author] => 26
    [post_date] => 2014-07-28 14:44:31
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    [post_content] => I´ve been thinking about balance.

Over the past 4 weeks, I have been learning from the pueblos, cities and mountains of Guatemala.
  • In Cotzal, I met the women with blackened toes and crinkled faces who rise early to plant frijol with their grandchildren. Despite the violence they witnessed throughout the 30-year civil war, these women have found strength in one another and created a weaving cooperative that benefits 45 widows and their families.
  • In Xela, I hiked through the night to watch the sun rise over the clouds on the summit of Santa Maria, one of the tallest volcanoes in Guatemala.
  • Now that I am in Pachaj, I walk through the corn fields of this quiet town feeling the pensive strength of growing plants around me. I live with Armando, the visionary behind Chico Mendes, a reforestation effort which has brought the community together around issues of erosion and water privatization.
Though I have only spent a few days with the women of Cotzal, the guides from Santa Maria and the people of Pachaj, I learn from their work, their passion, their belief in making something better. All the while, I am learning from my students. They surpise me with their ability to face the environmental and social challenges in Guatemala with curiosity and optimism. When passing by a river polluted with chemicals yesterday, they wanted to know how many years it would take it to clean, and how they could participate to make that change begin now. My students also teach me to be kind and vulnerable. They come to me with stomach aches and sore throats, trusting that I will be able to help them. They confide their fears to me and to their friends. They seek friendship with their host families, talking during the evenings over their smoky wood fires while slapping tortillas into form. They laugh at their own broken Spanish and care for one another through long bus rides, cold mornings and difficult discussions. With so much all around me, my days tumble into one another. They are punctuated by sunsets and lightening, marked by quiet conversations and watery coffee at breakfast. As I lie in bed before sleep at night, my thoughts bring me to questions of balance. Am I giving my students the balance they need to learn and feel cared for? Is this course maintaining a balance between space for students and instructors while encouraging growth as a group? Am I interacting with Pedro from Cotzal and Armando from Pachaj in such a way that shows my appreciation for their work while still being clear about the needs of our Dragons students? In those final moments before my dreams take me, my thoughts rest on questions of personal balance. Am I giving myself the time and space to listen to the gentle song of my travels -- the wind in the corn at night, the roosters in the morning? I find it tempting to let the days fall past me without pausing to notice their colored rhythm. As our Dragons course comes to a close over the next 2 weeks, I wish to exhale slowly as I walk, together with my students, fellow instructors and Guatemalan friends, through these clouded mountains. [post_title] => Balancing Over Volcanoes [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => balancing-volcanoes [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-02-02 11:28:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-02 18:28:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=107319 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 30 [name] => Picture of the Week [slug] => picture-of-the-week [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 30 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 483 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 1 [cat_ID] => 30 [category_count] => 483 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Picture of the Week [category_nicename] => picture-of-the-week [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/picture-of-the-week/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 150 [name] => Guatemala 6-week [slug] => guatemala-6-week [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 150 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 254 [count] => 144 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 8.1 [cat_ID] => 150 [category_count] => 144 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Guatemala 6-week [category_nicename] => guatemala-6-week [category_parent] => 254 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2014/guatemala-6-week/ ) ) [category_links] => Picture of the Week, Guatemala 6-week )
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Balancing Over Volcanoes

Lila Trowbridge,Picture of the Week, Guatemala 6-week

Description

I´ve been thinking about balance. Over the past 4 weeks, I have been learning from the pueblos, cities and mountains of Guatemala. In Cotzal, I met the women with blackened toes and crinkled faces who rise early to plant frijol with their grandchildren. Despite the violence they witnessed throughout the 30-year civil war, these women […]

Posted On

07/28/14

Author

Lila Trowbridge

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    [post_date] => 2014-07-28 14:41:11
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    [post_content] => An update from the ground:

The Guate Six team has been residing in Pachaj for the past few days. Our days are structured in a way that allows for morning activities, a group lunch, and Spanish lessons in the afternoon. Many of us have had fun walking up and down the hilly town, searching for shops that are closed most of the time.

But as for today, our group had the luxury of putting our homemade bread into the oven. Last night we had begun the process. It was an elaborate series of events of throwing eggs, milk, sugar, and yeast into a huge tub. From there, we beat the mix with our hands for many minutes trying to form some kind of dough. The dough started to look rich in flavor, developing a golden-brown color. It was too hard to resist. Some of us took this golden opportunity to taste the raw dough. Personally, it was delicious. After this, we took the tub, a bunch of oil, and started crafting the molds of our soon-to-be masterpieces of bread.

Once we had finished cooking, we were instructed to not eat the hot bread. It would be bad for the stomach later on. Of course, with our adventurous attitudes, we did the opposite. And with the powder, the chocolate, and raisins, the bread melted in our mouths. A glorious reward for our hard work.

In conclusion of this update, writing this hours after the commencement of bread-eating, I can confirm that the bread does one´s stomach. But only a little.
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Guatemala 6-week

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Update from Pachaj

Will Campbell,Guatemala 6-week

Description

An update from the ground: The Guate Six team has been residing in Pachaj for the past few days. Our days are structured in a way that allows for morning activities, a group lunch, and Spanish lessons in the afternoon. Many of us have had fun walking up and down the hilly town, searching for […]

Posted On

07/28/14

Author

Will Campbell

Category

Guatemala 6-week

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    [post_date] => 2014-07-28 14:39:01
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-07-28 20:39:01
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Time flies when you are having fun. Our week-long stay in the community of Pachaj is zipping by. The stunning views and the bone-chilling cold air on top of volcano Santa Maria has long been filed away in our memories...  replaced by the endless cornfields that surrounds us as we bike from homestays to activities to Spanish lessons. After settling into individual homestays, the students were introduced to the Chico Mendez reforestation project. We climbed up the mountains yesterday and learned firsthand the hard work it requires to plant trees for the future generations. Some of the highlights thus far have included shopping and preparing for a group lunch (What talented chefs we have on this course!), relaxing at the hot spring, shouting out our personal goals for the final three weeks of the course in la milpa, practicing permaculture principles and building a spiral garden, and last but not least, kneading and baking enough bread to feed an entire village. The education continues as we look to learn more about the Mayan Cosmovision this afternoon from the village elders. The group is in great spirit and have been tasked with designing a five-day expedition phase at Lago Atitlan. We look forward to sharing with you all our upcoming schedule as the group finalizes the logistics. Rock on! From the land of the maíz, Team Guate 6 [post_title] => Pachaj Update [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => pachaj-update [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-02-02 11:18:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-02 18:18:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=107338 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 30 [name] => Picture of the Week [slug] => picture-of-the-week [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 30 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 483 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 1 [cat_ID] => 30 [category_count] => 483 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Picture of the Week [category_nicename] => picture-of-the-week [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/picture-of-the-week/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 150 [name] => Guatemala 6-week [slug] => guatemala-6-week [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 150 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 254 [count] => 144 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 8.1 [cat_ID] => 150 [category_count] => 144 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Guatemala 6-week [category_nicename] => guatemala-6-week [category_parent] => 254 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2014/guatemala-6-week/ ) ) [category_links] => Picture of the Week, Guatemala 6-week )
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Pachaj Update

I-Team,Picture of the Week, Guatemala 6-week

Description

Time flies when you are having fun. Our week-long stay in the community of Pachaj is zipping by. The stunning views and the bone-chilling cold air on top of volcano Santa Maria has long been filed away in our memories…  replaced by the endless cornfields that surrounds us as we bike from homestays to activities […]

Posted On

07/28/14

Author

I-Team

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    [post_content] => An amazing experience is an understatement. What I’ve experienced this past week, first in Cotzal, then in Xela and now in Pachaj has been incredible. In Cotzal I had the incredible experience of hearing first-hand (through two translators) the atrocities that were committed in the Guatemalan civil war. While listening to the women tell us about Military massacres, human rights violations, and the struggle that they had been through; I could not help but think about the perspective that these stories were putting my life into. It shined a new light on the privilege that I am so blessed to be living in. Coming on this trip, I thought I would be prepared for that feeling, as it has so often occurred on my trips with my choir to the townships of South Africa or the streets of India. Yet as I sat and listened I was struck by a new emotion, one that I have a very hard time describing. I have always marveled at the happiness that is in people who live in such “poverty” compared to America, but as I listened I not only marveled at the strength, and happiness that was so visible in these women, but the unimaginable ability to share their story with those of us who can’t possibly relate. It took me a few days for their stories to truly sink in on me, due to incredible magnitude of what they had said.

After Cotzal we finally returned to the city, back to concrete and the sounds in the night. On our last night in Xela, instead of going to bed we packed up our bags with sleeping equipment, layered ourselves up in jackets and drove to the base of a volcano. It was midnight and I hadn’t slept since 7:30am, but I was pumped. With our headlights and our bags we started up the perfect triangle know as Santa Maria. Hiking at night, with only one light on the ground ahead of you, is something I unfortunately cannot say I had ever experienced before. Without any idea of our surroundings we trekked on, clambering over rocks and up steep switch backs that dropped away into the darkness. As we neared the top, the altitude took its effect and I had my second burst of energy. The trees started to thin and only the strongest pines were left standing. As I clambered around the last hairpin turn and looked out at the rising sun, I finally understood why our instructors had made us hike for 5 hours up a mountain in the middle of the night. The view was like nothing I had ever seen before in my life. The sun was an orange haze on the horizon, illuminating the clouds with a godlike glow. The mountains, although barely visible through the clouds had halos around them, all giving off the same orange and blue light. It was amazing, and then I felt the cold. It bit at your hands and face like you were in a white out. We were soon all cuddled in our sleeping bags, hiding from the cold behind the rocks. After two hours of sleep awoke and had to gather ourselves and eat breakfast in the freezing cold, but once I was up, the view made the cold seem like nothing. You could see the mountains surrounding Lake Atitlan, and to the right you could look into Mexico. We finished breakfast and climbed back down the mountain, but I know that a little piece of me stayed up there, looking out over Guatemala forever reminding me of the hike, and the feeling I had as I made that last turn.
    [post_title] => A most Amazing experience.
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A most Amazing experience.

Jesse Kahn,Picture of the Week, Guatemala 6-week

Description

An amazing experience is an understatement. What I’ve experienced this past week, first in Cotzal, then in Xela and now in Pachaj has been incredible. In Cotzal I had the incredible experience of hearing first-hand (through two translators) the atrocities that were committed in the Guatemalan civil war. While listening to the women tell us […]

Posted On

07/28/14

Author

Jesse Kahn

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    [post_date] => 2014-07-28 09:05:37
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    [post_content] => 
After having our mid course reflection, we finished our stay in Xela with a trek up the 4th highest volcano in Guatemala, standing at 3,772 meters above sea level: Santa Maria. On our drive to Xela, our instructors pointed it out beforehand, and I must say, what I saw made me a little queasy. From a distance, Santa Maria can be seen as a perfect triangle.  We're going to trek that? In the middle of the night?! I was nervous, but a bit excited. We all met up at 11:45 PM with our backpacks containing our sleeping bags and pads, 3 liters of water, pur headlamps, and feelings of excitement, anxiety, and a little bit of sleepiness. On our drive to Santa Maria, we picked up two police officers who were to join us on our trek and protect us from abbt unforeseen dangers.  Their presence made it all the more official. At last, the moment came,  we unloaded or backpacks from the van, put on our headlamps, and followed our guides up the path to begin our scary, yet thrilling climb up this perfect triangle known as Santa Maria. It wasn't easy for me. Let me say that again. It really wasn't east for me. I found myself slipping on rocks and lifting my legs so high my knees were to my chest. Not to mention I kept having to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes. It was definitely a good workout for the legs though. The sun rose around 5:45 AM, and though I wasn't able to see it from the top, I was still overcome with such a feeling of accomplishment and pride. I reached the top and the view was absolutely breathtaking.  It was also quite chilly and very windy, but that held nothing against what I was seeing. We saw tops of mountains, other volcanoes, and even towns. Seeing how high we were made it all worthwhile. All the pain I felt slowly left my body. Here I was, up in the clouds. [post_title] => Up in the Clouds: Our Midnight Trek of the Volcano of Santa Maria (Long overdue yak) [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => clouds-midnight-trek-volcano-santa-maria-long-overdue-yak [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-02-02 11:26:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-02 18:26:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=107151 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 30 [name] => Picture of the Week [slug] => picture-of-the-week [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 30 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 483 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 1 [cat_ID] => 30 [category_count] => 483 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Picture of the Week [category_nicename] => picture-of-the-week [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/picture-of-the-week/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 150 [name] => Guatemala 6-week [slug] => guatemala-6-week [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 150 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 254 [count] => 144 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 8.1 [cat_ID] => 150 [category_count] => 144 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Guatemala 6-week [category_nicename] => guatemala-6-week [category_parent] => 254 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2014/guatemala-6-week/ ) ) [category_links] => Picture of the Week, Guatemala 6-week )
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Up in the Clouds: Our Midnight Trek of the Volcano of Santa Maria (Long overdue yak)

Joan Binalinbing,Picture of the Week, Guatemala 6-week

Description

After having our mid course reflection, we finished our stay in Xela with a trek up the 4th highest volcano in Guatemala, standing at 3,772 meters above sea level: Santa Maria. On our drive to Xela, our instructors pointed it out beforehand, and I must say, what I saw made me a little queasy. From […]

Posted On

07/28/14

Author

Joan Binalinbing

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