It's been raining an insane amount here, nearly every day save for a few precious hours of sun. Morale is low as most of our party is sick with various illnesses and sad from lack of sun. But we've found ways to cheer each other up. My room at the hostel has five occupants, it's a cozy windowless sanctuary we've dubbed "The Cave." We built a blanket fort and watched movies during the heaviest rain, hard to believe we're all in our 20s! The past few days have been a mix of work and fun. The days are taken up entirely by language training one-on-one and cultural immersion to prepare us for the remote village on our next stop. Evenings are usually cooking, documentaries about Guatemalan history, or recreation like salsa lessons, drinks, or games inside if it's raining. Yesterday our trip leaders surprised us with an impromptu trip to the altiplanos to see the famous hot springs birthed from volcanic fissures. The scenery was unreal, I'll try to upload a picture. After a nice soak morale was much improved.
The group is growing closer by the day. Despite being from five different countries, we're like family after only a week together. I feel so comfortable and at home with them, connected in a way I can't even describe. We cook together, clean together, laugh, cry, hug, cuddle, and grow together. We've become brave and are more comfortable conversing and connecting with the locals.
I think this has been a lonely couple days. I try to post on Facebook so my friends and parents know I'm alive and well, but seeing the posts of everyone else is making me homesick. It's also very different being around people that don't share my beliefs, it's challenging and isolating but also very refreshing. Conversations have been stellar and extremely stimulating. People are so environmentally and socially conscious and it makes me feel so guilty that I've lived so much of my life ignorant of the issues in my and other countries. I must admit I find myself overwhelmed as I discover the amount of social injustice present in my world, even in my own country. I don't know how to process this just yet.
Tomorrow we start our three day journey to the mountain village. Covering about ten miles a day, it will be a challenge because none of us are used to the altitude and most of us are weakened from travelers sickness. But once we get to the village we will begin our first big project, building stoves for the women of a Mayan organization called AMA. They suffer from eye and respiratory problems from cooking over open fires and they live in the smoke every moment indoors. They cook tortillas to sell, a popular occupation. The stoves we're constructing will prevent the lung diseases they suffer from, and they are thrilled for the help and also to share their homes with us. I am so excited to get started with the work.