For the past few days, it has been wonderful to experience Guatemalan culture in the NPH home. As for day 4, though, we experienced Guatemalan culture, past and present, in Antigua and Iximche.
We began our day with breakfast in the Comedor as per usual: eggs, beans, and bread. Although breakfast could’ve been enjoyed for an hour more, we sped through to make sure we were ready in time for Mass in the NPH church. The entire mass was in Spanish, but a “spark notes” version of the sermon (translated by some of our group’s more fluent speakers) described a powerful message regarding women, their rights in our society, and the importance of understanding our loved one’s values. A quick change and four flights of stairs later, we got on the bus to leave NPH.
About an hour later, we arrived to Iximche and met our tour guide, Armando. Our time there was spent learning about the traditional Mayan ruins found in Iximche, and Armando was a fountain of knowledge. He guided us through the museum at the front of the park, took us through the actual ruins themselves, and led us to a traditional Mayan ceremonial area. It was simply amazing to see this integral piece of Guatemala’s history.
After visiting the ruins, we arrived in the city of Antigua. Antigua was much more about indulging in the current culture of Guatemala, whereas Iximche was focused on the history. By the time we arrived, it was lunchtime.
The first thing we did in Antigua was discover one of the best forms of culture there is – food!
Different groups made their way to different restaurants: Guatemala meets TexMex, traditional Guatemalan, and modern Guatemalan food. We reconvened after our meals and had the pleasure of walking various markets for gifts and souvenirs (probably the peak of our tourism).
Though we all had a long day, there was still time when we returned to bond with the boy’s dorms at NPH. Whether it was soccer (futbol), bracelet making, basketball, or just relaxing, everyone in our group was able to find their niche. It’s so easy to bond with everyone in NPH; each and every person is loving, welcoming, and can always crack a joke; so making friends and spending time is practically effortless.
Closing the day with our reflection was the perfect way to end the night. We were able to discuss some of the highlights of our day and how we could connect them to the pillars of Catholic Social Teaching, a connection we’ve been making every night.
Especially including the history and new culture from today, our discussion was rich with thoughtfulness. It set us up wonderfully for our last day in NPH (☹).