Starting from the beginning, I did my Canadian phase back in the summer of 2012. I was placed in a small town called Deep River, Ontario, just a two hour drive north of Ottawa. My placement buddy was Chris and we got along well with one another and our host family. My job placement was in a District Hospital as one of the maintenance crew, just on the edge of town, where my host mother worked as well.
The first day on the job, I met with my co-worker, Aiden, and our Supervisor showed us around the building, but then we were attacked by a swarm of tiny wasps, in which we thought at first were just irritating, small flies. But overall, my job placement kept me busy and it was pretty okay.
Our host family took us to do a lot of different activities and to many different places. We went to the beach where the water only reached up to your knees for the first fifty feet and drops off like a steep cliff into an abyss of water. We went boating to the Quebec side of the Ottawa River with an old couple and went on land to check out a waterfall. My host parents also took me to a wedding to another town in Ontario, and also took us to a Carnival to another town just nearby and it was a blast!
Now moving onto why I applied to the International phase.
I honestly had forgotten that NYA had an International phase at all, but when my old teacher and mentor, Tessa, asked me about applying again for NYA International I immediately applied and became a Reserve; just in case someone dropped out. But just a few months before summer break I declined and decided to apply next year because I needed to look after my father after his hip surgery in Ottawa back in 2014. After he healed up I applied again. It took quite some time before I was finally messaged about my position in the program, but just two months before summer break, I was given a spot. I did the best I could to finish up all the assignments and managed to complete it just in time.
On June 26th, 2015, I departed from Pond Inlet with a couple other participants in town and headed down to Ottawa to start our adventure.
When we arrived in Ottawa, I was met with familiar faces I hadn’t seen in three years, and a few new ones to go with it. There were only a few of us the first night at MacSkimming, so we had a pizza dinner and went to see a movie. I watched the new movie “Jurassic World” with Mick, Chelsea and Jeff. It was awesome, especially the last part.
While at camp, it felt like going back to school again, but we also did other things like going to Parliament for Canada day, watch a Baseball game and go to the mall to shop.
After about a week, the International and Canadian groups split; our group was taken to Algonquin College while the first years went to their host-families around Canada. We were paired up with buddies and shared a two-roomed dorm in our apartments and I was pared up with Mick. I say we get along pretty well.
We took construction classes there from Tuesday to Friday each week and Spanish Classes in another building on Tuesdays and Fridays. In all honesty, I wasn’t really interested in the construction class but I did it anyway because I knew it was important for me to learn the new skills of how to use tools and other equipment safely and efficiently. I only managed to get into three out of five classes in Spanish lessons but they were fun and interesting nonetheless. We did construction classes in the mornings and Spanish classes in the evenings.
Throughout the three weeks we were in Ottawa, we went to the Mooney’s Bay beach, shopped in malls around the capital, visited museums, went to the movie theatres, played mini-golf and took a visit to Fun Haven to play Laser Tag (which my group planned). I’m sure I forgot to add something else we did in Ottawa; there were simply too many things we’ve done for me to remember on the spot, but the whole three weeks we spent there were pretty fun.
And now, we’re in Guatemala.
The day before we got here in Central America we packed away what we needed the most as our luggage needed to be less than fifty pounds. We left the things we didn’t need to be watched by Bec and the other staff. We left for the airport around eight in the morning and departed around ten or eleven. We arrived at the Newark International Airport, in New Jersey around two in the afternoon. We ate a bit in the rather large airport and just chilled near our Departure Gate. The place was a lot more chaotic than I was used to back in Canada and we finally left and got on the plane around four or five. The flight itself was pretty long to say the least; I spent that time trying to sleep and watching movies on my iPod. We landed down in Guatemala around nine or ten at night in their time zone. We waited in the lobby for an hour or two, waiting for Tim to find his luggage and we found out it wasn’t brought along on our plane’s cargo hold. With that done we finally went out and got in a van to be taken to our hotel.
The building itself was at least twelve stories tall, and when we got in it was made to fit a royal family, but we were all too tired to really care. I got paired up to share a room with Angus and Mick. We turned on the TV and we couldn’t understand a single word, so we just went to one of our leader’s room and ate some fries and sandwiches before going to bed.
In the morning, I looked out the window and it looked beautiful. We could now see what we couldn’t last night and three volcanoes were practically looking over the city like sleeping giants. After our little ‘Awe’ and ‘Cool’ we went down to the lobby and ate a delicious breakfast. After that, we heard there was a swimming pool in the fifth floor on a rooftop, so we went and swam for two hours in the warm water and sun. I didn’t notice it at the time but I got sunburn on my shoulders that I couldn’t really feel until the next day.
Around noon, we got into a van without lunch but we had little snacks and went to a small town near a volcano beside a lake. The drive there took about two hours but I loved the scenery. I felt as though I was finally immersed in Central America.
After the long drive we reached our destination and unloaded in a small hotel. I was pared up yet again with Mick and Angus to share a room and we found out we could barely fit in the bathroom in our room. We all settled in for an hour before we went down to the parking lot behind the hotel and our tour guide took us around town for a little tour. When it got dark he took us to a restaurant nearby and I found out that Guatemalans made the best lemonade and their food was great.
The next morning was a little sad as we were splitting up again. The other group, Team Turbo, left early in the morning to go to another town, and after our ‘Good Byes’ we went for breakfast. In the afternoon we packed up and went to our town. There we settled in, then Mick and I exchanged greetings with the people we were going to be working with.
Our job is to help build a home for a couple in Santa Cruz. Personally, there have been ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ but I have habits of following the directions of my leaders, so I brush aside the little ‘downs’ for later and do my job. Being in the Army Cadets for quite some time will do that to you.
Other than construction, so far we’ve went to the Mayan Ruins not far from here and went exploring a little on a tour. We’ve also done a few laps in go-carts. I accidentally ran into a small tree trunk when I looked away for one second and that is when I knew I would never buy a full-on car or truck. But I don’t mind having a Dune Buggy.
In the near future we’ll be doing other activities in the coming weeks, but now I stop here.
So till next time, have a nice day/night, everyone.