VolunTour

Snowfish VolunTours

Adventure travel… with a mandate to serve and learn.
We want to take you on a grand experience that will give you an opportunity to serve, to discover and generally get to know another culture by living, volunteering, and then traveling across part of country on an eye-opening journey.

This trip is for anyone looking for a safe and exciting blend of volunteerism, sightseeing & cultural exposure. Come let us take you on a journey that you simply cannot get in a traditional travel format.

Ventures like this are worth the expense for the following reason:

They create a massive exclamation mark on much that has been taught at home, at school and in church communities. They take all the words and books … and create a visual & experiential feast so that travelers really “get it”… sometimes for the first time in their lives.

Trips like this are markers. They are “stakes hammered into the ground” upon which we connect various aspects of our past… and make decisions with regard to who we will be and what we will believe in the future. That’s why trips like this can be worth many times the expense.

They are life-changing.

They are life affirming.

It’s important to note that this is more than just a volunteer work experience. It certainly incorporates volunteerism and hands-on practical service, but we will experience history, climb a live Volcano, discover what it is to survive as a family living and working in Guatemala city dump. We will experience life on a coffee plantation as well as a rubber plantation.

We’ll live simply… and then finish off in the lap of luxury as we take a few days at an all-inclusive setting in the highlands of Guatemala on the edge of one of the world’s most beautiful lakes.

We work with partner organizations that are looking forward to our coming to volunteer and celebrate with them in their work. Our first week centers just outside one of the most beautiful Old World cities of the world…Antigua Guatemala. (Please go to the picture files and check out some of photographs).

 

A sample Itinerary

 

Wednesday

Arrival, pick up at Guatemala City Airport and transport to San Juan Del Obispo where families will be waiting for us and will escort us to our homes in this town overlooking the city of Antigua (10 minutes away).

Thursday

Orientation to Guatemala and the villages of San Juan as well as Santa Maria where we will be doing our volunteer projects. We will begin to work and will spend most of the day in the village of Santa Maria. Either late afternoon today or tomorrow we will be spending time with a very knowledgeable Guatemalan guide who will answer questions and help us understand the country and its people from a variety of perspectives.

Late afternoon we’ll head down to Antigua, a city of cobblestone streets, arches, fountains and Internet cafés. Antigua has been designated a world heritage city. Beautiful, fascinating and ancient … now home to over 50 language schools. People come from all over the world to study Spanish right here.

Friday

Workday in the village of Santa Maria. Santa Maria is a Mayan town further up the (dormant) volcano.

Saturday

Sunday

Optional English/Spanish worship service in a small church in Antigua.

Then we’re off to climb volcano Pacaya.(on foot or by horse). This is a safe but exhilarating experience! This volcano is live and you have not smelled bad gas until you have experienced the sulfurous fumes that mother nature can kick off.

Monday

Back to work!

Tuesday

This day will be a set aside as a day trip into Guatemala City for a “Day of Contrasts. We will experience perhaps for the 1st time, families living and working their whole lives in the Guatemala City dump.

We follow this by a visit to one of the most beautiful malls you have seen and a theater experience that is not available in most North American cities. This will be a hugely inspirational and thought-provoking experience. A safe but powerful & exhilarating experience. A life experience. A day of incredible contrasts.

Wednesday

We leave this morning for the coffee plantation… a trip that takes us from the Highlands of Antigua (approximately 1 mile high) down to the coast. The temperature will turn from warm and comfortable to hot and moist. We will follow the coast towards Mexico and just before we get to the Mexico border we will turn to the right and head up a short ways to the town of Columba. (In the area called Costa Cooka) (so that’s Columba, Costa Cooka.) ( Say that real fast 3 times.) Note: we will stop at a rubber tree plantation for lunch and a rather remarkable tour. During the course of the last 10 years or so when coffee prices hit all-time lows, many farmers switched to rubber trees. It’s a fascinating process and we will look at the dynamics involved, both to the landowner and also to the people who live(d) on the land.

Antonio Mombiela whose family owns the coffee plantation has built a small retreat center on the property. We will be housed in this retreat center for two nights. We will take some time to discuss what we are seeing around us. If the small swimming pool has been tended, some will no doubt enjoy a cool swim.

Later on that evening we will watch a movie together on the history of the coffee industry, a recent production which will help us make sense of what we are seeing all around us. It might just inform the way that we understand & consume coffee when we return home.

Thursday

Today we will tour the coffee plantation. We will see what it has taken for this family to survive economic hard times and how they have sought to protect the jobs and lifestyle of the 100-200 people who live in the small village on their property. In the afternoon we will have planned some children’s events for families living nearby.

Friday

We leave in the morning for Lake Atitlan. This is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world… bordered by three (non-active) volcanoes.

We will drive uphill seemingly for ever and will arrive mid-day at the Hotel Del Lago where for the next two days we will live in an all-inclusive setting. Travelers can eat and lounge by the beautiful pools for much of the day. This should begin playing with the edges of our conscience as we consider all we have seen. We will no doubt be impacted by the kind of contrasts within which the people of Guatemala live. Extreme poverty and extreme wealth live side-by-side.

In the evening we begin our debrief sessions. All of us will have been journaling throughout the we will bring these journals and we will take time to strategically and purposely discuss our thoughts and feelings about all that we have seen and experienced. These debrief events are designed to encourage and empower each individual.

Saturday

This afternoon we’ll take a panoramic boat trip across the lake to the Mayan village of Santiago Atitlan. Travelers will have opportunity to choose gifts and souvenirs of their Guatemalan experience by walking the markets not only of Santiago but also of the area surrounding their hotel. This is a safe area and travelers will have a great time wandering the markets, lounging by the pool’s and eating some great meals. We will continue to take time to debrief the experience this evening.

Sunday

After breakfast we finish our debrief sessions. We really do not have to be back in the village of San Juan till later on in the day,(or in the case of the artists, their hotel) so we will drag out our experience at this hotel for as long as is comfortable. We will likely leave at 2:00 p.m. for the two hour trip to Antigua. By now we will have bonded with our Guatemalan families and we will be looking forward to seeing them again. It will be good to have one more day to enjoy our Guatemalan hosts and to say goodbye.

Monday

9:30 a.m. After breakfast we’ll take our final photographs and then be picked up in San Juan and taken to the airport for the trip home.

 

Note: this itinerary leaves out many of the small but significant events planned into many of the dates including historical tours and strategic learning/adventure experiences.