Leander on Tour in Colombia and Guatemala
“What made my stay special were the great people I had the opportunity to meet. Whether international or the residents of each country . They all made my trip so interesting, gave me insight into different cultures and changed my perspective on some things in life.”
Leander traveled with WanderWorld for several months in Colombia and Guatemala. There he took part in the Hostel Experience in Cartagena and then experienced wonderful moments in the Teaching Project in Antigua, Guatemala. In this report you will learn a lot of exciting things about his time there.
MY FIRST DAYS
The first days were already very eventful. From Frankfurt, we flew with a large group of volunteers to Cartagena, Colombia. Thanks to the WhatsApp group that WanderWorld created, the participants were able to meet at the airport. This also made it much easier for me to say goodbye to my family.
After our arrival at the hostel in Colombia, the owners took a lot of time to explain everything to us. They also showed us what was coming up in terms of work over the next few weeks, so that we had a good overview of the tasks that lay ahead of us. Because of the warm welcome from everyone, the homesickness disappeared by itself. I also felt very comfortable when I arrived in Guatemala, as I was already used to dealing with new situations due to my previous stay in Colombia. The local staff was also very nice and attentive.
A NORMAL DAY IN THE PROJECT
The first two months I was responsible for planning the activities in the hostel. I got up every day at 10:00, had breakfast and then made my inspection tour through all three hostels (the hostel group owns three hostels and a resort in Cartagena / Tierra Bomba Island) and updated the boards with the labels for the activities. After that I had a break again, or I informed the guests of the hostels about the activities from time to time. Most of the time, the activities started in the evening. I led them and made sure that everything worked. I was the contact person for the guests and staff on site. In the last month, I was responsible for the breakfast service. There was a regular schedule there. The shift went from 7:00 to 12:00 and you cooked and did the dishes, always with the support of the permanent hostel staff.
In Guatemala, I alternated between working in a school and making home visits to families because the children were not yet able to go to school due to the pandemic. It was very interesting for me to see how the families lived and how warmly they greeted me, even though they did not know me at first. This vividly reflected the hospitality of the Guatemalans. The working hours were flexible, as the children’s visits to the parental home also always took place at different times. It was very remarkable to see how the staff of the project have made it their heart’s work to give children and young people from the surrounding villages a real chance at education.
MY FREE TIME
In the beginning, I always arranged my free time differently, but after a while I found a routine. Cartagena is a beautiful and exciting city, in which you usually stay as a “normal tourist” only 4-7 days. Of course, I did a lot with newfound friends, went out in the city or was also just for myself. This I enjoyed very much, because so I could just relax. In the evening you can also go out to party, but the more “European/American” the ambience was, the more expensive the club or bar was. On our days off, we went to the nearby islands and spent the day on beautiful Caribbean beaches.
In Antigua my free time looked similar, some days I explored the city and its many hidden corners, but sometimes I just wanted to read a book or take time for myself. There are numerous destinations around Antigua, so it never gets boring. For example, I visited the beautiful small town of Flores, spent time at Lake Atitlan or climbed an active volcano together with other volunteers.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE CULTURE
In both Colombia and Guatemala, I came into contact with the local culture a lot. For example, I celebrated Christmas at a friend’s house in Cartagena and, as already mentioned, I was also able to experience a lot of Guatemalan culture through my work at the school. I was fascinated by a lot of things, but probably especially by the openness of the Colombians and the warmth of the Guatemalans, and I hope that I was able to take something from this for myself.
THAT’S WHY I LOVE LATIN AMERICA
The special thing about my stay were the great people I got to meet. Whether internationally or the inhabitants of the respective country itself. They all made my trip so interesting, gave me insights into the culture and changed my view on some things. For me, besides the cultural experiences, the people are always the “most important” thing on a trip.
MY MOST BEAUTIFUL MOMENT
Certainly, there were many wonderful moments. But one moment I always think back to is when I was in Peru for a week and was on the plane back to Colombia. I felt like I was flying home and couldn’t wait to get back to the hostel.
MY FAVORITE PLACE
Cartagena has won a place in my hearts, both because of the city itself and because of the people and all my experiences there. Medellín fascinated me because it has so much to offer in terms of local activities, but also restaurants and history. Antigua is probably the most beautiful city I saw on my trip. Each place had such its own flair and specialness. Combined with my memories of the place, each one was special in its own right.
MY TIP FOR FUTURE TRAVELERS
I can only recommend this kind of trip to everyone. Especially if you are interested in new impressions, can perhaps abandon European standards and are generally open to new things. My tip is just to put aside any expectations and let the time just come to you.
THIS IS HOW THE JOURNEY HAS CHANGED ME
I have definitely grown as a person, become more independent, and very happy to have gained so many new interpersonal and cultural impressions. Traveling alone has also strengthened me as a person, as I would never have dared to do this before. Once you have left your comfort zone, it is much easier to embark on new and unknown adventures.