Where to start....
I am back in Ireland now and I am a changed man. I have gained, not only a wealth of knowledge and experience in the environmental volunteering sector, but I have made friends for life and scored myself another family.
My eight week programme began with 2 weeks of Spanish lessons close to Antigua. As a 33 year old, I didn't find this the easiest. My teacher was wonderful, created a fun atmosphere and taught me all the Spanish I know. I was then taken to my project by my coordinator from INLEX - Alex. He was very professional and experienced in all things volunteering and Guate. Alex advised me impeccably for my entire stay and for that I am forever grateful. I still owe you that beer Alex!!
For the following 6 weeks I was placed with a wonderful family in the Western Highlands of Guate in a beautifully relaxed village called El Novillero. I was made to feel like one of the locals by every member of this village and in particular my host family.
The project I was working on is called Corazón del Bosque, an oasis in the highlands. My work involved supporting the full time staff with their duties which included, the maintenance of mountain trails, working in the nursery and the organisation and implementation of an anti-litter project devised by myself and my volunteering partner. Working at Corazón del Bosque was a delight, however due to my limited Spanish and the facilitators lack of English, communication and direction was somewhat tricky. However, following the implementation of our own anti-litter and information project, focus and direction was very obvious.
I can not find the words to describe exactly how I feel following my return from Guatemala. All I can say is that I have been changed forever and that it has been the most wonderful experience I have ever had. I have made friends for life and gained a brand new Guatemalan family in INLEX. The people who I have not mentioned here you know who you are. Thank you for being so supportive and I wish I will see you very very soon!! You are the most amazing people I have ever met. You do such wonderful work, not only helping young travellers to see the world, but the work you support on the ground in Guatemala is incredible. You should all be very proud of yourselves.