Guatemala! A Vacation of Purpose, People, and Unique Experiences
Is your name on the next trip?
Last month, a group of women headed south for Guatemala to enjoy the inaugural Travel on Purpose tour! This six-day vacation included a host of culturally immersive experiences, beautiful five-star hotels, delicious regional food, and time with Kids Alive International.
This journey to Guatemala showcased all the elements that are essential to a Travel on Purpose vacation. Our goal is that each travel experience will include learning about the history and culture of the place we're visiting. In addition, we want to support local businesses. Getting to know people and their stories is a special part of travel, so all Travel on Purpose trips have plenty of opportunities to do just that. Finally, connecting with a ministry doing good work in the countries we visit will always be central to our mission. This trip to Guatemala introduced our travelers to Kids Alive International, an exceptional organization rescuing girls from hard places.
So how did we fulfill all that in just six days?
Keep reading to find out how.
Home to volcanoes, a lush rainforest, and ancient Mayan ruins, Guatemala is one of the most stunning and diverse countries in Central America. Travelers visit from all over the world to climb volcanoes, drink coffee, indulge in chocolate, and shop for handmade textiles. But, the true beauty of Guatemala is its people, warm and friendly.
A short flight from the US, and on Central Standard Time, Guatemala is a convenient location for a Travel on Purpose vacation. Our vacation began with four days in Antigua, a beautifully restored Spanish-colonial town that became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Its cobble-stoned streets lined with cafes, museums, and shops displaying handmade textiles are a delight! From hiking Pacaya Volcano to making chocolate bars in a workshop to embarking on a walking tour with a local historian, Antigua did not disappoint!
Our hotel of choice was the historic Casa Santo Domingo. The ancient walls, brick archways, and tile corridors provide the perfect backdrop for a truly unique hotel experience. Its origins can be traced back to 1538, when the first Dominicans arrived in Guatemala. During this time, the monastery was a grand, two-towered, ten-belled building filled with riches and relics. Unfortunately, the monastery was partially destroyed in the 1773 Santa Marta earthquake, and what still stands has become a monument preserving the baroque architecture and treasures of the period. The Casa Santo Domingo is home to six museums.
Then we departed for Lake Atitlan, a two-hour drive from Antigua. First, we stopped to tour an ancient Mayan ruin and shop for pottery at a community workshop. Then we arrived at Casa Palopo, a 15-room luxury hotel located right on the lake. Enjoying the expansive views of the turquoise blue water and a spectacular sunset on the night we arrived was a highlight of the week.
During our time at the lake, we also took a private boat tour to visit one of the 12 villages on the shores of Atitlan. In addition, we shopped for produce in a local market, participated in a cooking class, and learned about cotton production, dyeing yarn, and the art of weaving.
Travel on Purpose has partnered with Kids Alive International providing holistic care for girls who have been victims of sexual abuse. Restoring the hope of Christ in the hearts and minds of vulnerable children, they provide wrap-around care that addresses every aspect of a young girl's life. A team of therapists, social workers, lawyers, house moms, and spiritual counselors help restore what was taken through a care plan unique to each individual. Hope replaces despair with Biblical principles and therapeutic tools, and loving staff walks alongside them for the long journey.
We spent one day with Kids Alive learning about the high rate of sexual abuse in Guatemala and how they are meeting the physical, emotional, spiritual, and legal needs of these girls. We toured the Oasis Center, a residential home for 40 girls ranging from 4-17. Then, we sat down to lunch with a group of tween and teen girls who were shy and giggly and had lots of questions for us. They wanted to know about our favorite foods, what we like to do for fun, and how many kids we have. We had lots of questions for them too. We learned that they love playing music and doing crafts and have big dreams for the future. From teachers to lawyers to make-up artists, these girls are hopeful for a life of purpose ahead of them.
After lunch, we met with staff to learn more about the process of healing. We learned that girls are placed at the Oasis Center by the government. Our day ended with attending their weekly chapel service, in which we got to hear the girls share their victories from the past week and celebrate with one another. Finally, we joined with the girls in raising our voices in worship. We were able to see God's promise from John 10:10 in action. "The thief's purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness."
As we headed back to our hotel that night, our hearts held a visual reminder that God sees each one and loves them deeply.
And just like that our week-long vacation to Guatemala had come to an end. With our suitcases filled with textiles, pottery, coffee, and chocolate... and our hearts filled with the people we got to know along the way, it was time to head home.
Until next time Guatemala, we can't wait to return!
Will YOU join us?
If you would like to know about group tours to Guatemala next year, or would like information on customizing a private trip for your small group, email us at [email protected]