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IVHQ Video Tour: Guatemala

Moving on from Mexico, the next stop on the IVHQ Video Tour is Guatemala! Our video team, George and Kate, keep us posted with their progress:

Within easy reach of Guatemala City lies the picturesque city of Antigua, set amongst a backdrop of three imposing volcanoes. Home to an impressive array of Spanish Baroque style architecture, it is easy to see why Antigua was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1979. 

Here the IVHQ volunteers live in a large house situated near the centre of town. At the moment there is a grand total of 22 volunteers living there!

Monday 12 November

The first stop on our Antigua tour is Mi Escuelita, a tiny school in the neighboring town of San Pedro. Here we meet a volunteer from Iceland who spends her mornings working at the school. Today she is teaching the alphabet to the children in English.

Visiting the local markets in GuatemalaOur afternoon is spent exploring central Antigua, which includes a visit to the local market. We are lucky as Monday is the busiest day, so the colourful and chaotic market is in full swing. Here you can buy everything and anything and the displays of fresh produce and flowers are beautiful. The market backs on to the equally hectic bus station where the famous chicken buses are constantly coming and going.

Later in the day we take a trip up to the Cerro de la Cruz, a lookout over the city, which has some of the best views of Antigua.

Tuesday 13 November

IVHQ medical volunteers in GuatemalaToday we visit Centro de Salud San Lucas, a medical clinic in the nearby town of San Lucas, offering basic healthcare to the general public free of charge. Here two pre-med IVHQ volunteers have been working on a daily basis. Their mornings are spent predominantly in triage where they are required to do pre-consultations on patients, recording vitals such as blood pressure and temperature. They have also been shadowing doctors during consultations and even assisting in surgery when needed.

We then head to Guarderia San Lucas, a government run daycare centre nearby. Here 24 children under the age of six are cared for, most of who live in poverty. As well as childcare, the volunteers are today involved in a redecorating project that is taking place where they are helping paint the walls of the centre.

Wednesday 14 November

Visiting the animal care volunteers in GuatemalaThis morning we take a trip out to one of the animal care projects the IVHQ volunteers are involved in here in Antigua. Founded in 2006, Antigua Exotic was the first Amphibian and Reptile Rescue centre in all of Guatemala. They work to ensure the protection of a range of different species, as well as providing environmental education to the Guatemalan public. Here a volunteer from Australia, who is training as a vet, has been gaining practical experience by working alongside the director. 

Thursday 15 November

On the Eco-Agriculture project in GuatemalaGuatemala is synonymous with coffee, and here in Antigua IVHQ volunteers are able to become involved in this important industry. “As green as it gets” is a non-profit organization that aids economic development and environmentally sustainable agriculture in order to reverse the poverty cycle. Their work includes collaborating with independent coffee farmers in all steps of the coffee process, from planting and harvesting right through to production and sale.

This morning we meet the founder and are given a tour of the facilities by a local farmer. Volunteers involved in this program help in a range of areas, including not only the harvesting and processing of the beans, but also construction projects and marketing of the coffee.

Afterwards we visit a café in the centre of Antigua where these independent farmers also work as baristas. This is the first time we have ever had coffee served by the farmer who grew the actual beans!

Friday 16 November  

Visiting a chocolate museum in GuatemalaChocolate is another important food in Guatemala, with the history of cacao dating back to the days of the Mayans. Today we take a chocolate course at the local Choco Museo (Chocolate Museum), which includes the history of chocolate as well a chocolate making lesson!  In the afternoon we do a walking tour Antigua, where we learn the history of all the beautiful architecture.

This weekend most of the volunteers are heading off to a retreat called Earth Lodge on the outskirts of Antigua. They commonly take weekend trips away with many of them having visited Tikal and El Salvador, among other places, during their time in Antigua.


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