Long Way From Home at Long Way Home

Enjoying the rooftop of our hostel in Antigua.

Written By Maya & Eli

¡Hola desde Comalapa, Guatemala! Maya and Eli here. After an exciting four day orientation filled with volcano sightings and nightly lightning shows, the group said farewell to the beautiful town of Antigua. The farewell was followed by a scenic two hour drive through the Guatemalan countryside to get to our new destination, Long Way Home in the colorful city of Comalapa. We were met with a welcoming smile by Omar, the volunteer coordinator, as well as the host family including local artist Roberto Perén. Roberto is part of a bustling local art scene here in Comalapa, which is home to about 2,500 artists. The evening consisted of a delicious dinner and a tour of Roberto’s art gallery.

The next morning we trekked into town to see Comalapa and learn more about the city. We did so in typical Comalapa fashion by viewing murals that depicted the history of the city. After viewing two more art galleries and playing basketball in front of historic Cathotlic Churches, we made our way to our worksite: Escuela De Los Héroes. Here we got to know the area where we would be spending most of our time over the next few weeks. We also learned about green building and permaculture.

This past week consisted of working with local construction workers learning the unique form of sustainable architecture. Students were pushed out of their comfort zones once again working with a language barrier along with getting our hands and feet very dirty. The group learned many things including how to mix cement, hammer nails, and make cob which is a mixture of soil, sand, straw, and water. Perhaps even more important was the learning of how to reduce trash production and give trash a second life as a material vital to the construction of a school.

The process of making cobb includes mixing and mashing it with boots or bare feet.
Taking on carpentry!
To help the cob stick to the wall, students nail tires that line the classroom.

In the mornings, students take turns preparing breakfast foods such as eggs, french toast, pancakes, watermelon, bananas, cantaloupe, pancakes, toast, etc. The first meal of the day is a communal and wonderful way to improve cooking, cleaning and people skills. After a long day of work under the Guatemalan sun, the students shower and head right back to the same school to improve their Español skills in small, two hour classes. Classes consist of games, taking notes and conversing with their teachers about life in Central America.

Some students are better and less messy at cooking than others.

As the sun sets over the beautiful, green hills, students retreat back to the Long Way Home volunteer house. Here they enjoy creature comfort in the form of loving dogs named Rocket and Britney as well as a brand new addition in the form of an adorable baby kitten named Balam (Kaqchikel for “jaguar”) who was saved from the streets of Comalapa. The nightly ritual consists of authentic Guatemalan cuisine and exciting discussions between students and Overseas Educators filled with laughter and stories. On Wednesday, students attended a class on traditional Kaqchikel weaving and even tried it themselves. They were taught the stories and methods behind the clothing that date back thousands and thousands of years.

The students were given an opportunity to try traditional Kaqchikel weaving themselves.

The students end this week with sore muscles and big smiles, eager for another week of construction and hablar en español!

Thank you for following our journey…
Now signing off, ¡Adios!
Maya and Eli