It’s been a long couple of days, and in all the commotion, it seems nobody had time to write a blog post, so here I go.
On Friday, we started the day with our community engagement activity, and all our team members participated this time. Before we got to the clinic, we stopped off at a farm near Teculutan to pick up some seedlings to create home gardens with the community members. We got eggplant, tomatoes, cilantro, and I can’t quite recall the name of the last one, but it’s a leaf that’s used to make soup. When we got to the clinic, our wonderful social work student Lucero again led in teaching how to make the gardens. They consist of a water bottle cut in half and put back together, with the upper container consisting of soil with the plant and the bottom half holding water with a string connecting the two, moisturizing the plant. It went well, all of the kids and their parents enjoyed putting the plants together, and we all enjoyed interacting with the local community.
Everybody there got a plant, and we used all of the water bottles, but in the end there were a few extra plants, so we were able to make a small garden for the clinic. After that, we got to play with the kids one last time and then put up the chain-link part of the fence. We explained to Hermana Edna how the panel system worked and how we needed to maintain it, we officially handed the project over to Hermana Edna, and we celebrated with cake. Hermana Edna was so grateful for the work we did, and it meant a lot for us to see that our work was having a real impact. We took quite a few photos with our completed project, and then we headed back to the hotel for the night.
Saturday, we all got together for breakfast, a little later this time, and then got to finish packing our things. We had to say goodbye to Levny and Don Edgar, who had been so helpful and friendly to us for this entire trip. We got in our van and started heading back to Guatemala City. On the way there, we had a little bit of engine trouble. There was a leak in the radiator, and we had to stop a little bit and pour some water on it, until eventually we were able to get another van called to take us to the airport. We finally all got to the airport, where we would begin to split up, so we had to say our goodbyes. It was hard, but I am so proud of each and every member of our team, with how hard they have worked over this past year leading up to these two weeks. I had a great time with them all, and I am proud to call them my friends. So everyone got to their flights, and most of us headed back for our jobs, or some of us are about to do some more traveling to Chile for internships. But for the team, the adventure was over.
Well, almost over. Danny and I had the first flight out, but instead of heading back to Texas, we decided to take an extra day to fly up to the city of Flores in the northern Petén region. We stayed at a hostel on Isla Flores, an island located in Lake Petén Itzá. The next day, we got on a bus to Tikal, a ruined ancient Maya city lost for a thousand years. It was a hard hike, a few miles long in the jungle, carrying our packs and without much water, but it became worth it once we reached the top of Temple IV, high above the jungle canopy, with the other temples poking out in the distance.
It was interesting to see how advanced the ancient Maya were, even without large-scale metallurgy or the wheel. It was also sobering to see how this once thriving city disappeared, and served as a reminder that everything is temporary. After Tikal, we flew back to Guatemala City, spent the night there, and returned to the US the next day.
On behalf of our entire team, I’d like to thank everyone who supported our project in any way. Whether you helped us in country, gave us technical advice, or supported us financially, this project couldn’t have been a success without you. I think this project was a great success, and I really hope that it can help the clinic give a better chance to these kids, who can go on and do great things with their lives. I know the project greatly affected all of us, and it will inspire us to keep serving others in own lives. This is an experience that we will keep with us for the rest of our lives. Thank you.