Guatemala: A Study in Contrasts

Lake Atitlan, GuatemalaAwakening to the sound of a motor on the lake, the vision of a pleasure boat cutting through the water’s glassy surface towing a daring waterskier suddenly came to mind.  However, once the fog of sleep lifted I realized I was not at the U.S. mountain resort of my mind’s eye, but in a humble Guatemalan lakeside village and the sound was actually that of a workboat ferrying passengers across Lake Atitlan.  What a contrast between vision and reality.


As a participant in Education And More’s first-ever Educational Weaving Tour, the trip proved to be an amazing study in contrasts.  Here are a few other contrasts I witnessed:

  • The rich beauty of the Guatemalan highlands vs. the clear evidence of abject poverty in the country

  • The colorful costumes and warm personalities of the indigenous people vs. the horrible realities they faced in the aftermath of civil war and through the discrimination they experience

  • The low standard of living and lack of material wealth vs. the quality of life through the evidence of strong family values, sense of community and simple living of the indigenous people

During my adventure in Guatemala, I was blessed to have the chance to connect with the women artisans as they shared their weaving skills and other gifts with us.  I developed a much greater appreciation for the work these women do and for their culture simply by spending time with them as they lived their daily lives.  And, despite the language barriers we faced, I sensed we reached an understanding at a deeper level through the smiles, hugs, laughter and parting tears we shared.

Through these experiences, I came to discover that the greatest contrast I encountered was between my pre-trip expectations and post-trip reflections.  Going into the trip, I saw it as the culmination of months of planning, fundraising and preparing.  I also saw it as an opportunity to check an item off of my bucket list and to make some lasting memories.  In other words, I saw the trip as an ending.

Several years have passed since that trip during which I had the opportunity to see and experience first-hand the work Education And More is doing in Guatemala.  Throughout the time since then, I have remained involved with the organization and have gotten to know dedicated and caring board members and volunteers who are passionate about making a difference in the lives of the artisans and their families.

Backstrap Weaving Tour

Remembering the ways in which I was able to touch and be touched by those I connected with during my trip to Guatemala, I consider myself blessed to have the continued opportunity in supporting Education And More achieve its mission to educate children and reduce poverty in Guatemala.  And, while I initially considered the trip to be an ending, I have since come to discover it was only a beginning.

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