A Maya Farewell

Hello friends and families!

This is Matt and Rachael, your OEs, writing our final semester blog post from the tropical paradise of Roatan, Honduras.

What a 3 months this has been! The time flew by and sometimes crawled. It feels like we have known each other forever and also like we were meeting in LAX yesterday. It is going to be strange breaking up this little family at the airport and carrying on without their daily presence.

We want to extend gratitude to the families and parents! You have raised some wonderful humans. We feel really blessed that I’ve had the opportunity to get to know them these last couple months.

We have studied together, shared one too many middle of the night wake ups, eaten lots of pops ice cream, occasionally pushed each others buttons, and learned a whole lot.

One of our favorite memories of this group is the first time we all played in the waves together at El Paredon, the Pacific coast of Guatemala. It was after a long, hot drive squished in a van together. We arrived sweaty and grumpy but the ocean worked its magic and a few short minutes later we were giggling like children and riding waves. We would move on to play in many waves and bodies of water together and it remained one of our favorite things to do with this group. There is nothing quite like swimming in warm, silky saltwater while the sun sets a brilliant orange behind you.

We have a group of Spanish speakers! Every single one of these people can have conversations in Spanish. They have formed good relationships with host families, friendships with Costa Rican teenagers, and navigated emergency bathroom stops, shopping for groceries at local markets, and had some in depth conversations about Guatemalan history and politics.
We got a jump start on Spanish learning by surprising us our first night at the mountain school by putting them straight into dinners with host families, lots of wide eyes and awkward chit chat. Complete with a graduation ceremony at the end of the week including Lukas’s rendition of ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ in Spanish.

From there we studied more Spanish, planted lots of trees (and met Auntie Cheryl, Hayden’s horrifying alter ego, who also showed up our last night for a game of mafia), trekked for three days in the mountains, meditated and yoga-ed, learned about sustainable development, surfed!, learned about permaculture (and did some memorable karaoke, shout out to Harrison), chilled at the pool and cooked together, and woke up at 3 am to fly to Costa Rica!

In Costa Rica we went straight back to Spanish school and it’s complement of multiple ice creams a day (stop it Lindsay!!! (she’s lactose intolerant)), to a turtle project where we patrolled the beach at night for mama turtles laying eggs (that Celia unfortunately kept calling the ‘turtle harvest’), visited another permaculture farm with more turtles including lots of babies!, and woke up at 3 am to fly to Honduras!

We have had our ups and downs and chaotic, difficult moments. I think we have all learned a lot about building communities and relationships. There are some very deep and loving friendships in this group. It has been beautiful to watch them form these strong connections to each other with lots of laughter and snuggles, and lots of support when they are struggling. Learning how to treat each other in community and relationships is a whole life’s work and they are all open-hearted humans who have taken on challenges admirably.

Here we are sunburned, mosquito bitten, exhausted and learning to dive! This week has had a lot of happiness and also some difficult challenges. It was awesome seeing students swimming like a school of fish over the reefs together. Plus some underwater dance parties!

We just got back to the hostel after lots of goodbye hugs and tears at the airport (though Matt didn’t crack) and are experiencing a bit of an empty nest and enjoying all the leftover snacks. Thank you to all the students for sharing this 12 week journey across 3 countries with us! We are so proud of you and can’t wait to see what you do next.