This last summer I had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala with my school for a Spanish trip. The goal of the trip was for our Spanish to improve and for us to learn about a different culture. All of us who went came back with many memories, some good and some bad, plus knowing a lot more Spanish and about Latin American countries.
I was very excited to go on the trip. We had had many meetings about what we were going to do and see. Everything looked so different and fun. When we got to Antigua, the town where we were to spend the majority of the trip, I started to feel a little anxious. We were staying with host families who didn’t know English and I didn’t feel my Spanish knowledge was adequate. I was relieved however, once we were inside our bedroom and I could look out the balcony at the cobblestone streets. Being in Guatemala suddenly seemed very cool again.
The days were spent going on different day trips. One of the more memorable ones was climbing up VolcÃ¡n Pacaya, an active volcano. I don’t consider myself to be totally out of shape but that mountain almost got the best of me. It was only the fact that a little kid was with us and doing great that kept me from kopping out and using a “horse taxi.” The hike was worth it though. Once to the top of the volcano we had to climb down into the crater to get to the actual lava. Our guides warned us to be careful on the rocks because they were dangerously sharp. I was excited though because instead of hiking this was more like climbing. I love to climb things, my hands and feet working together towards a common goal. The time it took to get over to the lava felt like nothing.
Seeing fiery red and orange molten rock ooze its way down a hill is a great experience. So is roasting marshmallows in the heat of the lava. We were given two big branches to put many marshmallows on. After seeing one of the guys on the trip posing with the stick I decided it looked like a good photo opportunity for me as well. I put one foot up on the higher ledge he was standing on and pushed off with me hands. Unluckily for me, the rock gave and my foot slipped, causing my leg to scrape against the volcanic rock. It didn’t feel like much but when I looked down, sure enough, blood was already dripping down my leg. I got bandaged up, feeling actually pretty excited about the huge amounts of gauze wrapped around my leg.
The excitement ended however, when it became more and more difficult to keep the wound clean. By the end of the trip it was infected. I wanted to go home and get it really clean. I wanted to go home for other reasons, also. The last three days of our trip was spent in Tikal, an ancient Mayan city. While the ruins were amazing to see, the huge bugs were not-especially when they were in our beds. By the end I was sick of getting up before four am, having no electricity, weird food, and the Spanish language in general.
I learned very much on the trip. My Spanish did improve greatly, and I did learn way more than I expected about the culture of Latino countries. I certainly came away with memories-and I have the scars to prove it!
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