Sunday, March 30, 2014

Zipping Down, Saddling Up and Flying Out

The team gears up for a zip line tour down a Guatemalan
mountainside at Finca Filadelfia.
[From 03-08-14] After a long week of hard work, the team was due for a fun day, and today was promising to not disappoint. On the docket we had ziplining and horse back riding at the Finca Filadelfia which translates to "Farm Philadelphia". Though some in our team were apprehensive about trusting their lives and weights to Guatemalan zip lines, many of us still took the leap (quite literally). Fortunately, and to our amazement, the zip lining was breathtaking. First we rode up a steep mountain on a precarious bus, frequently waving to the coffee workers that picked the beans from the stalks that grew on the side of the mountain. Next we suited up and let gravity be our entertainment. The view was surreal, as Antigua is located in a valley surrounded by leafy mountains set against the backdrop of a towering volcano. Needless to say, we were saturated by the beauty that nature threw at us as we slid down the tight ropes. The rest of our group, Orlando, Ally, and Chris took a more intimate ride with horses through the facility and its surroundings. Since Chris was the only experienced one, the others enjoyed the challenge of riding a horse for the first time. 

Miranda zips through the forest
canopy like a pro.
After our adrenaline hit we went to the facility’s shop where many of us depleted our personal funds on delicious coffee. Later we drove back to the hotel and checked out. 
A sting of nostalgia was in the air as we cleaned our rooms out and packed our bags into Israel’s car. Nevertheless, the melancholic mood was quickly dissipated as we were determined to invade the artisan shops. After a quick tour at Pollo campero we made our way to the shops, recalling all of our haggling schemes. A couple of hours later and many Quetzales spent the group lugged their trophies back to the hotel. 
Part of the team poses near the entrance to the Mercado de Artesanías.

Back in Guatemala City the group queued up in a small hotel to hear some of the team member’s thoughts of the trip. After a heartfelt talk with Dennis and Berta the team went straight to bed to get some rest before going to the airport at 5 am.
An awe-inspiring view of the valley from the ziplining tour at Finca Filadelfia.

We departed early Sunday morning, exhausted but grateful for such an incredible week. With so much to think and reflect on, many of the group members could do little more than sleep on it for that afternoon’s flights, and thankfully we all returned safely to Nashville. But the observations, experiences and memories from that trip were sure to give us much to consider and discuss in the days to come, as they already have in our team debrief meeting March 17 and as each team member has done through the individual journaling and final report assignments. And I’m confident that, for me, as for most of our group, we’ll continue to see for months and years to come how this trip has impacted everyone involved.

We would like to thank the following people and organizations for helping to make this trip possible:

Berta Rivas and the Shalom Foundation

Annie Element and Samy Badie of Project C.U.R.E.

Mary Dockery, our TA

John Dunbar, engineer extraordinaire

Tina Shaw -- BME

Chris Rowe, Brenda Ellis -- VUSE Engineering Communications

Michele Cedzich -- VUSE

Robin Carlson -- VUSE

Sheri Stevens -- VUSE

The Moore Pediatric Surgery Center

Hospital Infantil Juan Pablo II

Hospital Nacional Pedro de Bethancourt

Obras Sociales del Hermano Pedro, especially Odra Flores

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