Field report


Guatemala has inspired and fascinated me time and time again. There is something magical about this country and you will never forget that feeling.

After graduating from high school, it was clear to me that I didn't want to start studying straight away, but wanted to spend some time abroad. I spent a lot of time researching the right country and, above all, the right organization to suit my plans. At the beginning of the year, friends recommended the young organization WanderWorld Travel to me and I got in touch with them straight away. After a very informative consultation in which we talked about the right country and the best job for me, I decided that I wanted to travel to Guatemala. The small country seemed to offer me everything I wanted: exciting social projects, a diverse and interesting culture, great language schools and short travel distances to the sights. And it was something completely different. Most of my friends were in Australia and I didn't want to swim with the crowd, I wanted to try something new. A decision that I am still very happy about today.


The first days

I arrived in Guatemala City super excited. Although I was well prepared thanks to the help of WanderWorld Travel and had some idea of what to expect, a little nervousness is probably part of it. My guide was already waiting for me at the airport. We got on really well straight away and during the trip he told me about the great country and his home town of Antigua, where we were going. Fernando is Guatemalan and has always lived in Antigua, but still speaks fluent German as he is studying German history and is very interested in our country.

The introductory event began the very next day. Fernando had already organized a SIM card for us, which was super handy. He showed us an app that we could use to book hostels during our trip and gave us lots of tips on traveling in Guatemala. He told us a lot about safety, which eased my remaining concerns. If you stick to a few rules, Guatemala is really easy to travel around. He then showed us around his home town. Fernando knows the city like the back of his hand and we learned a lot about its fascinating history. I learned that Antigua was the capital until the end of the 18th century, when it was destroyed by an earthquake. The old ruins are still dotted around the city. We also visited the market and he showed us his favorite restaurants, bars and cafés. Tips from a local are really worth their weight in gold. Luckily, Guatemala is so cheap that you can sometimes treat yourself to something on a tight travel budget.

The next day, we went on an excursion together to a coffee farm in the surrounding area. A guide showed us around the farm and we learned a lot about the long coffee tradition in Guatemala. In the evening, the welcome party was on the agenda. We met up for a traditional Guatemalan dinner with tortillas, guacamole, tamales and enchiladas. Afterwards, we went bar hopping and got to know Antigua's nightlife.

A day in the teaching project

Two days later, the time had finally come: I started working for an aid organization. The head of the organization, Carlota, welcomed me and showed me around. The organization is based in the middle of Antigua in a beautiful old house. I spent the first two days here and was prepared for my work with the children. I learned a lot about the organization and how it works, as I was able to observe the various employees at work, such as collecting donations and planning new projects. My organization specializes in supporting children. There are many very poor villages around Antigua where people have little to live on. The organization supports the families by looking after the children, in particular by offering them a place at school. On the third day, I went to the school I was assigned to. Together with the other volunteers, I took the bus to the small village 20 minutes from Antigua. The school is only a few years old and about 200 children are taught there. The children were very friendly and happy about the visit from Germany. Fortunately, I had already learned a bit of Spanish before I left and was therefore able to talk to the children. The language course, which was included in the WanderWorld program, allowed me to consolidate my knowledge. On my first day at school, I had a look around the school and got to know the teachers. Some of the teachers are from Guatemala and some from other countries, such as the USA, Canada and Europe. They were all very welcoming and integrated me quickly. Over the next few days, I started teaching some of the children English, helping them with their homework and supervising them after school with leisure activities. I was allowed to come up with these myself and we had a lot of fun together.

At the weekends, you have plenty of time for excursions into the surrounding area. I once went to the sea with friends to El Paradón. There's nothing there except a hostel with a nice pool and great waves for surfing. After an hour you know everyone there and in the evening there is a BBQ and a pool party. The most worthwhile excursion is to Lake Atitlan. In my opinion, this lake in a volcanic crater is the most beautiful place in Guatemala. You can climb volcanoes, swim, canoe, take yoga classes on the jetties and visit the surrounding Mayan villages. I liked it so much that I went there three times in total. After my work at the school, I spent another four weeks traveling through Guatemala and then on to Mexico. There is still so much to discover in Guatemala alone, but that would go beyond the scope of this report.

My favorite place

Although I had read a lot about Antigua beforehand, as the WanderWorld staff provided me with all kinds of information, I was amazed at how beautiful it looks here in reality. You feel like you're in a huge open-air museum, the streets are ancient and consist entirely of cobblestones. I didn't want to ride my bike there. J The houses are always being restored and are very colorful. There are lovely restaurants and cute cafés everywhere. Everything is designed with great attention to detail and is super cozy. There is also plenty to do in the evenings. The bars are full of people from all over the world. Antigua is the most popular place for backpackers in Guatemala. And the best thing is that many people stay here for a long time and you can make close friends. Once a week there is an electro party outside the city in a volcanic crater. Everyone goes and the vibe and atmosphere is incredible.

I was particularly fascinated by the surrounding area of Antigua. On the very first weekend, I took part in an overnight tour to the Acatenango volcano. You hike to just below the crater, where you set up camp. In the evening, you sit together with a glass of wine and watch the fire of the active neighboring volcano El Fuego. An incredible sight.

My accommodation

I was very tired after the long flight and Fernando took us to our accommodation first. I had a room in a nice, open house where 5 other people my age lived. We each shared a bathroom and could use the communal kitchen. It was very tidy and fortunately was cleaned regularly. The family who owned the house had their apartment on the lower floor. They were very nice and I learned a lot from them about life in Guatemala. As I love cooking, I spent a lot of time in the family's kitchen and learned how to cook in Guatemalan.

Why I love Latin America

Guatemala has inspired and fascinated me time and time again. There is something magical about this country and you will never forget the feeling. The people there have learned to be very happy with very few possessions and money and pass this feeling on to their guests. Everyone is nice and helpful and you learn a lot about the culture from the locals. There is also an incredible amount to see without having to travel long distances. The weather was consistently good. The price level is also a huge advantage. Other friends were in Australia after their A-levels and could hardly afford anything because everything is so expensive. Even with my low budget, I ate out almost every day in Guatemala and did all the excursions I was interested in because everything is so cheap. It's really nice not having to look at money all the time.

I recommend a trip to a "slightly different country" to everyone, because you gain incomparable experiences from which you will benefit for the rest of your life.

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Sophia, founder of Wanderworld Travel

Lisa, Coordinator & Participant Support 

Amanda, Support and advice before departure


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