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Published: August 20th 2011
We had a great workweek with the team in Chitixl and then had an amazing despedida with the community. The leaders of the community, surrounded by many of the children, gathered at the school to give us a farewell. Members of community expressed their gratitude for the work that the team had done. They presented each member of the team with a locally made fabric as a token of their appreciation. It was a very touching moment that I am sure will not soon be forgotten. After saying out last goodbyes to the community we returned to the MTI office in Coban to have an additional farewell with the staff.
Leaving Jorge in Coban to have a ‘relaxing’ weekend with his family, I left with the group up to the area of Flores. I had come to this area when I was last traveling through Central America and was glad to have the chance to return. About 60 kilometers outside of Flores is the ancient Mayan city of Tikal. Known best for its appearance in Star Wars, Tikal is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites. This was my second time to Tikal and I still find it hard to
put into words. You can stand there in the central plaza and just imagine an entire city bustling around you more than 2000 years ago. With five main Temples, a series of intricate buildings making up the main palace, and an area with seven smaller temples placed to mark points of a yearly calendar, Tikal displays just how elaborate this world was.
The view from the top of the tallest temple is a complete 360-degree view of the jungle with only the tops of three of the other temples breaking the treetops for as far as the eye can see. Two of the others from the group and I were lucky enough to be invited by the guard to the back of the main temple to see the full view. It was incredible experience and even though I had been here before I still found myself in awe and amazement over the incredible architecture.
Many of the temples and buildings of the city are still buried by the jungle. In one of the twin pyramid courtyards, the first pyramid has been uncovered and the other has been left to the jungle. While you can make out the general
shape of a pyramid it could easily be mistaken for just a hill. It gives you the sense that there is still so much to be explored of this ancient city. It was quite a way to end the week. I think that I will continue to be constantly amazed at what people can create.
The group left on a flight back to Guatemala City and I returned to the island of Flores for one more night before I took the bus back to Coban on Monday. I stayed at the Los Amigos hostel, which is a very popular place on the younger generation Guatemala tourist track. I got one of the last beds in the full house. I meet a bunch of people from all over the World. It is always interesting to hear other peoples travel stories. It also made me grateful that I get to stay and experience this amazing country for a whole year and don’t have to leave after just a few weeks. The next day I took the six-hour bus ride back to Coban, which is a really beautiful drive, but by the end I was totally wiped out.
I am very
excited to have that experience of my first group under my belt. I got back a lot of positive feedback from the members of the group who have some extensive travel and humanitarian experience. I also discovered some things that I want to do differently for the next group to try and make this the most influential trip for them as possible. I find that trips like this, even if they are only a week long, can really change people’s perspective and how they view the world. I think that the more people that are aware of how others live around the world and the daily struggles that they face, the better off our global community is.
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