From June 4-11, I was on a global service trip in Guatemala. On behalf of the VCU Institute of Women's Health and the Highland Support Project, the trip was geared towards Midwifery & Health; Marrying Mayan & Western Medicine. I had already applied to another study abroad program, when this trip popped up and I knew this was the trip that I needed to go on. While I am not in the healthcare realm, I have a passion for women's health and reproductive justice. I was looking forward to learning more about Mayan culture and hopefully getting the chance to practice my Español.

We were preparing for a cool, rainy week in Guate, so I packed lots of sweaters and socks. Since I am an American Airlines AAdvantage member, I was looking forward to checking my bag for free and not having to deal with it. In true ME fashion, we left a little late to the airport and there was a detour on the interstate. I was thoroughly freaking out when I was checking in at the kiosk and saw that the opportunity for checked bags had been closed. I had no other choice than to bring it as my carry-on, I remembered that I had liquids over 3.4oz in my checked bag and continued silently melting down. I made it through security with no problems, ran to my gate, where they were checking everyone's bags at the gate because our plane was super small anyway. A win for me! 


My team consisted of 8 members from VCU, we were traveling with a team of 4 engineers from Randolph-Macon College and our fearless leader, Luscious Lupe. While waiting for everyone to arrive, I ate a PB&J and Chiky, a chocolate covered cookie that would become my favorite snack. A popular Central American treat! Outside of the airport, I observed scores of missionary groups. A bunch of dorks in matching t-shirts, if you wanna know my real opinion.  Their presence was making me feel weird and I couldn't explain why. (I figured it out later in the week.) 

Once our team was complete, we climbed into our Turismo bus and set off for Panajachel. Guatemala City was full of McDonalds, Dominos, La Casa Del Waffle. Everywhere I looked, there was American fast food. It was grossing me out. I was excited to see some graffiti and a rather attractive man, riding his bike through the city. Also, I saw a man on a motorcycle, do the sign of the cross while at a stop-light, then moments later, I saw a motorcycle crash. (Not the same biker)

Let me just say, there was no shortage of things to look at for our 3 hour ride to Pana! 

Hotel Kakchiquel: View from my window. 

Our time in Pana was strategic: the elevation is about 5,240 feet and we needed to acclimate, as we were heading further into the Highlands for the week. After checking in, we had dinner at El Patio, just a few blocks away from our hotel. Renowed for their Pepian, a signature Guatemalan dish, made with pumpkin and sesame seeds, It was our first meal as a team!  Pepian is essentially Mayan curry with a Spanish twist. Served with tamalitos and hibiscus tea, it was muy delicioso! After dinner, I bought some Gallo cerveza for a nightcap. Can't beat 10Q (1.31USD) for a tallboy! 

Needless to say, I slept very well. 

Check out my full Guatemala album on Flickr

Luscious JudyComment