Written By Jacob, Latitudes ’19 Guatemala
Hola and buenos dias amigos! Jacob here checking in from El Paredon, Escuintla, Guatemala. For my latitudes semester I’m working with an amazing NGO (an org that doesn’t make any money itself but reinvests all its profits into the community) called La Choza Chula or “The cool hut.” In the past 5 years the organization has built a library, computer lab, organic garden, and secondary school (or middle school) for the community which previously had none of the above. They also employ locals as tour guides, librarians, surf instructors, boat taxis and english teachers. As a rising tourism destination, El Paredon needs a better trash disposal system (currently just done by burning trash), more English speakers, and a more environmentally sustainable community. We here at Choza are working on all this and more every single day! I am currently working as a sales and marketing intern for the next 3 months. Each day I work in the shop selling shirts, tanks, salt, bracelet, etc…I also take tourists to the beautiful mangroves, to see a multitude of sea turtles, and to classes where they learn how to make tortillas and empanadas like locals. All the profits from our sales and tours go to pay our local guides, local women’s club, lunch ladies, and all throughout the community in our initiatives.
The work is great but the town is even more fun. Each day after work I have the option to hit the water and surf, play beach volleyball with people from all over the world, or just chill in the beach hammocks reading Game of Thrones or talking to locals and tourists alike. The vibe here is amazing and the people I’ve met and made connections with grow and multiply each day. To give you an idea of the diversity here in El Paredon, we have nine different countries represented (currently USA, France, England, Italy, Ireland, Canada, Guatemala, Belgium, and Spain) just here at our office. The people here are open minded, kind, and have the coolest stories involving travel all over the damn world. The community here is amazing as well and I am living with a local family. Currently at our house we have Aura and Adelso (Mom and Dad), their sons Pedro and Arnoldo and both their wives, Gustavo and Miranda (Pedro’s kids), Sasha (Belgium volunteer), a French couple, and yours truly. Sounds like a lot but we all make it work and have a lot of fun along the way. They have welcomed me with open arms into this community and organization and for that I could not be more grateful. I’m so looking forward to what the next few months are going to hold. Peace for now.