I had planned to blog realtime in/from Guatemala but my laptop decided that it didnt want to work for the vast majority of the trip. As such, I'll be unpacking and sharing the adventure after the fact in a series of blog posts. This first post is the only one that I was able to write realtime...after just 2 days in country...as I was beginning to unwind from normal life and connect with the team.
we have been here two days now and now it’s starting to feel like we’re on the cusp of doing some work. The first day we understandably took the day to recover as our red eye flight brought us into the area at 7am we started with a nice breakfast then headed back to check into our hotel for the night. After a short time and a bit of exploring Antigua, we boarded the bus and cars and headed up to an overlook of Antigua which was framed by a nice old cross with the Volcan de Agua in the background. It was a nice way to let the fact that we were in Guatemala start to soak in.
I fell asleep for a bit on the way up which was a great way to start to catch up on much needed sleep. After some time at the lookout, we drove through Antigua and up a steep set of switchbacks up to our lunch spot which was amazing. it also featured an overlook of the city but from the other side of the valley. the restaurant itself was a farm to table setup with the farm on premises - the restaurant was situated in the middle of the farm with fruit and vegetables growing all around.
The afternoon rains hit as our food arrived so we migrated off of the amazing overlook patio to the safety of a higher, covered patio…then the rain really started coming in and with an amazing display of lightning and thunder which was quite the sight as it lanced across the valley, booming along the way. We started opening up conversations with the members of the team - getting to know each other in baby steps as is so often the case for introverts like myself. The combination of not having constant connectivity…distractions that we so often overlook in our lives back in the states and the content face time with each other made talking the natural thing to do.
Slowly realizing that we are all here to do the same thing…to experience the same thing…to do the same work…to just let God work in us, through us and among us is a powerful connecting force and opened into discussions, blossoming relationships that are just the beginnings of foundations that will strengthen our church, the kingdom and each other.
We had more time to explore the city then wandered down to the Whiskey Den - a local establishment owned by one of the many partnerships forged in the early days of Bryan and Wayne’s travels to Guat. Not my thing but I found a nice ice cream place to grab a scoop to pass the time. Dinner was another nice spot around the corner and more of a calorie filling formality as we were all exhausted to the point of wanting to skip altogether but for the simple need of calories.
Finally returning to our rooms, I showered and changed…washing my clothes in the shower with me then retiring to post the days pics and check for messages on google.
I started the day early and walked out into Antigua for some early exploring. Everyone else was still sleeping so I found a few places online that looked interesting, checked the map and headed out. Both spots were closed so I just ended up making rounds, getting familiar with the layout and grabbing some bread to accompany the cafe from the hotel lobby. Made for a nice break from the team which is something I need to be intentional about to let my brain sort through things and also got some semblance of a workout in.
After breakfast, we packed up and headed out towards our destination for the day - Lanquin. Infrequent breaks were mandatory for a group our size but we finally ended up making it to the destination around 830pm or so. Lots of driving…some dirt roads and a few folks riding on the roofs of the 3 SUVs, highlighting the potholes and random bats flying about as we descended into the valley of…something.
It was pitch black as we arrived at what now feels like paradise. We are setup at a hostel built up the slope of a steep riverside with the community room overlooking the river. a fantastic dinner was setup for us with tons of flavorful vegetarian options over candlelight.
Walking down onto the dock on the river reveals a fast moving REAL river with LOTS of water that we’re going to attempt to ride down in inner tubes tomorrow. Kinda freaky not knowing what’s in there but whatever…not the first not the last small challenge…let’s do this!
Bug spray is our friend down here as the mosquitos are drawn to the water and the bats to the mosquitos. No internet here tonight…i guess they shut it off at night or something so updates will have to wait but that’s ok. feels like and sounds like a club here as the team unwinds and mingles…letting the cares of life wash away.
It’s great knowing that sokny and the boys are hanging out in philly right now…a great distraction for them and a great parallel adventure. Time for some more water and downtime then sleep…somewhere...eventually.