Day 7 was an AMAZING day in Guatemala. Although I have said it numerous times in the trip day 7 was my favorite (and if it isn’t it will be very difficult to beat). The day included a visit to Chikabal to hike a volcano (yes a volcano), learn more about Mayan cosmovision and participate in a Mayan ceremony.
After a picturesque drive to the base of Chikabal the group began to mentally and physically prepare for the hike that was to ensue. Watching the group push their way up the volcano was a great time and bonding activity. After the many stops to rest and encouragement we provided for each other as we all tested our physical limit, we finally got to the point were we saw the scenery break into one of the most beautiful sights I have seen in my life and the lagoon in which we would be participating in a Mayan ceremony.
The Mayan ceremony started with a explanation of why the ceremonies are important and how the ceremonies are seen by people within and outside of the community. I was surprised to hear that even within the community some of the ceremonies are seen as “witchcraft.” According to the Mayan spiritual leader, there is a struggle in retaining youth to learn about the historical significance of the ceremonies. As he shared a story of speaking with one young woman who stated, “My mother and father are Mayan, but I am not Mayan because I go to the University.”
The ceremony itself was one of the most amazing and strongest group bonding activities we have shared as a group during this trip. The Mayan spiritual leader involved everyone in the ceremony (by choice of course) and explained the significance of every step and why it is important to respect the Earth, remember loved ones, and communicate with the higher power in which each person believed (or didn’t believe in). During the ceremony the scenery was breathtaking as well. A natural fog would roll in and out of the lagoon causing it to be completely covered at times and fully visible. I don’t know if it was just my perception, but even the timing of the fog seemed to have significance with what the spiritual leader was saying.
The picture is of the lagoon we hiked to in Chikabal where the ceremony took place. Again if this was not the most amazing views I have had during the trip or in my life, I am in for a treat with the one that will top it!!!