My international trip was to Guatemala. It was my first time leaving Canada, being so far away from home, and not able to call, but I had internet access so I could still keep in touch with my family and friends back home. The whole international group left on June 25, 2015 and we arrived in Guatemala City. We stayed the night and met up with our Group Leader in Guatemala the next day. His name was Lucho and he spoke Spanish and English so he translated for us. He also knew the city and other villages well. The international team had to be split up into 2 groups there were 9 people on each team. Team A went to Totonicapán & Team Eh went to Tecpan to build homes with Habitat for Humanity. It was great and a blessing building a home for a family that needed it. We made the work go by faster.
We had activities each day and fun things too like going to the market and to a smoothie shop. We would have a day or two of rest in between workdays, but we always ended up doing something. We saw beautiful views, mountains, and lakes, and went for drives around the town we stayed in. We met people from different parts of the world. Most of the Mayan people I met were generally short, so for them I was big and tall. A group of women I met there assumed I had a husband and children until I told them my age. They were surprised. I asked them if I could take a photo with them. It was their first time seeing an ipod with a camera. All the women and their kids jumped in and had their picture taken with me.
Once we completed our first home building, we went to another location to build a second house. It was way up in the altitude, high up on the mountain. We walked down a steep hill. It was easy walking down but once we were done working we had to walk back up. It felt as if I had just walked a marathon. It was so hot; we applied sunscreen at least twice during the walk. We came back to our hotel and rested before supper. Two of my friends and I were laying down and chilling, when it sounded like someone knocking on the door, I yelled “COME IN!” then suddenly the whole hotel was shaking a little. The earthquake was happening right under out feet. My friend said “OK, just stay calm” but I ran out the door! I was panicking. The earthquake lasted for half a minute.
A few days later we went to the natural hot springs. We stayed in Totonicapán for 2 weeks. The third week, we reunited with the other group and spent a week together. The last day we said our goodbyes. We left Guatemala on August 15, 2015 and got to Ottawa at 12 midnight and the Staff came to meet us.
The international trip was great – it was an awesome experience. We had good Group Leaders and a one-of-a-kind Guatemalan Group Leader. I well NEVER forget this summer volunteer trip. The ride had its ups and downs, agreements and disagreements, crazy, funny, good, bad, sad, and happy moments. I have to say I had LOUD laughing moments, and other moments where I wanted to go home. But HAH look where I am NOW. I’ve made it back to Ottawa, Canada. We made it to Re-Orientation safe and sound. I am glad and happy we made it through the 3 weeks in Guatemala. Now it’s my time to go home and share my experiences and tell my stories to my family and peers.