We left Nueva Allianza in the morning to go to Antigua. Before we left, we gathered with the community members that had hosted us and said our thanks. We were thankful for the great food, for the beds, for the tour, the coffee, the water, and the lesson about where our coffee comes from. Then we made our way to Antigua, away from the green mountains and toward a tourist town.
As our driver said when we got there, welcome to gringolandia. There were so many tourists. Even though we arrived late in the evening, people were still walking around central park. It was a safe city because of the amount of tourists, we could take as many pictures as we wanted now and carry around backpacks. The contrast was remarkable. Compared to the capital, Xela, Nueva Alianza especially, Antigua was made for tourists. The cobblestone roads were preserved, there were plenty of shops that sold relics and trinkets of Guatemala, there were a variety of restaurants, and still lots of motorcycles. The amount of things to buy. So many commodities.
After breakfast at a beautiful, secret garden, organic restaurant, we were given time to explore Antigua. We were tourists in Antigua and could act like it. Kiyan would stop every few feet and take pictures because she finally could. We all finished buying our gifts for family and friends with the amount of stores that sold Guatemalan weavings, paintings, earrings, and chocolate. Indeed we were tourists, just enjoying the act of being able to shop in a different country.
The evening session was really about the group. Before leaving to go back to Grinnell, before all the work would start and we would find ourselves in snow again, we reflected on the 1o days that we spent together in a different country. A fond memory from that last session was when I realized that Martin and I had come a long way from Pomona. We went to different high schools but were from the same city. We went to the same college in the same town. Now we were on the roof of a hotel in Antigua, Guatemala watching the sun set on the last day of our trip with 10 other amazing people, including Jenny and Jhonathan. It was sad to think we would be leaving our new friends, but it was exciting to think we would begin programming at Grinnell for the grant. We would bring back those memories to Grinnell. We would try to bring in a speaker for everyone to hear the struggles we heard, pictures so people could see the struggle we saw, and videos for people to see the journey we took as a group. Hopefully people will listen and look.