Our first day in El Paredon consisted of surf lessons, a discussion about sustainable development, and a tour of the local mangroves.
I always knew surfing was hard, but today I found out how much. It is a combination of push-ups and balancing. Unfortunately I was not able to actually stand on my board because of wobbling in the ocean. But I am an excellent body surfer!
Our discussion of sustainable development, was easy to connect to home. There are many parallels between El Paredon and Oakland. Because of the surfing in the area, developers are moving in, building hotels and changing the topography. One hotel dredged the ocean for sand to create “perfect” waves for a private beach that is on public land. It reminded me of the booming Tech industry in Oakland that is pushing locals out.
Litzy blew my mind in our discussion of sustainable development. When asked if they knew any examples of sustainable or unsustainable ideas, Litzy shared that Trump’s approach to immigration is not sustainable because it does not look to future generations.
The day ended with our regularly meeting and I was moved by the love in the room. I am truly honored that these young people chose to join this trip. Meenaa appreciated Ella and I for joining surfing. Sandhya appreciated the easy going nature of the group. Ella appreciated the older students making her feel welcome. Litzy appreciated the opportunity to travel!
I have a deep appreciation for La Choza Chula and Guatemala! In the past several months, I have heard a lot of negative things about this place, volcano eruptions and gang violence. The volcano eruption has negatively impacted tourism in the entire country, even though it happened in one part of the country. And thought I am sure, gang violence is real, it is not happening in El Paredon. Everywhere I have been in Guatemala, I have met friendly, loving people!
How do we address the hype that media presents? How do we start to share authentic stories about a country? I am sure there is gang violence. The volcano has destrogen the surrounding areas. But here in El Paredon, life is sweet. People are smiling, eating, fishing, going to church, living their life.
Come to Guatemala! Do not be afraid! Come to El Paredon! Visit La Choza Chula!