By Jody Nolan, February 2015 Guatemala Insight Trip Attendee
Guatemala is a magical place. It is enchanting, colorful, and mysterious – in that Latin American surreal way. It is a land of contrasts that range from the looming backdrop of the steaming volcanoes of Antigua and the indescribably lush and stunning colonial Lake Atitlan region to the complexity of pigments and designs woven into the garments still worn by the thousands of Mayan descendants in every village. When you combine this astonishing physical and cultural landscape with the mission of Friendship Bridge (FB) – which at its core aspires to educate, give back, and explore – you have ensured an experience that will live forever in your heart.
I signed on for my Insight Trip very late in the game- only three weeks prior to departure date. I knew peripherally a few of the women who were already going on the trip. They belonged to the Oconomowoc Circle, one of the 12 groups of volunteers across the country who provide their time and talents to supporting FB. I had seen the lovely “swittens” (mittens made from old sweaters) they make to support FB’s mission, and I knew from past experience that for me personally, my most memorable travels have incorporated a charitable component.
Friendship Bridge is an organization with a stunningly strong and organized infrastructure. Their mission is sound and inspired, and their support staff is stellar – both in Guatemala and in the Denver offices. I don’t think there was anyone in my group who was not astonished at how well organized every detail of our Insight Trip was. And all of the women on this trip were interesting, friendly, committed, and fun to be with.
A sampling of fond memories….. riding in cattle trucks and by tuk-tuks; the incomparable textiles – (gotta see ‘em to believe ‘em); the gratitude expressed to us by the women who are served by FB and witnessing the training and support they receive monthly; our accommodations in Panajachel overlooking Lake Atitlan; Marta Julia’s smile and sense of humor; huevos bien divorciados; the sense of rich yet turbulent history that fills the air; meeting and making new friends.
-Jody Nolan, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin