Inspired by a grandmother’s wish to bring her granddaughter on a trip to see the world in a new way, be exposed to new cultures, have impactful, meaningful, authentic experiences to broaden her perspective and bring awareness, I was asked to organize a trip to Guatemala in the style of CELC!

We arrive in Guatemala City after a very early morning flight.  Our private guide, the amazing José Carlos, greets us upon exiting Guatemala City’s busy airport terminal.  Loaded into a small van with our luggage stationed on top and tarped down, we embark on our 2 to 3-hour (lots of traffic) drive to Antigua, Guatemala.

The cobblestoned streets beneath the car’s tires and springs indicate our arrival into this dynamic UNESCO city, and in the skyline appear volcanoes Fuego and Agua, and a bit further off Acetenango and Volcán Pacaya.

Colorful – this is a word to describe all of Guatemala.  The people – some with traditional Mayan dress of handwoven and dyed cloth, richly embroidered with intricate designs, now also done by machine. The buildings – code in Antigua enforces use of certain colors; each separate dwelling brings blue, orange, beige, yellow tones, each street a painting unto itself.  And then there are the doorways – magnificent in height and famous for their personal touch and hand-crafted wooden designs, what is behind the doors is magical.  Deceiving until opened, there may be gardens, vast courtyards, and lots of rooms, such grandeur lurks behind those thick castle-like entrance doors.

We arrive to our AirBnB, specially chosen by our fearless/courageous (truly) leader, Scott of Buena Onda, an organization that he founded and one that is dedicated to connecting grassroots organizations in Guatemala with a global network of volunteers.  Scott is masterful at curating these culturally immersive trips on our behalf. Opening our entry door, we pass the first layer – a travel agency office – and then, into our very own garden courtyard, complete with a small outdoor kitchen area and our bedrooms each along the perimeter.  We notice the rich mahogany wood that is part of the décor when are greeted by our host Claudia and get settled in.

It is lunchtime and so, we have our first Antigua meal at a nearby restaurant.  Behind this door, once again, the restaurant’s length extends, with multiple rooms and finally to our table that overlooks a beautifully decorated garden. Fine food, from salads to burgers to burritos, favorites of our group.

So many experiences, this would be a very extensive blog … for now, these highlights.  Stay tuned for more!