Our time on the Pacific is drawing to a close. The iconic black sand beaches have left their imprint on us. Many, perhaps Wesley more than anyone in history, will find this volcanic granulate in their ears and inside their bags for months to come. It’s a powerful place.
Yesterday, we spent most of the day in a little community on the frontlines of climate change. At the end of the busy road that runs parallel to the ocean, we took a boat across a rapidly changing river mouth to the village. 10 years ago, one could walk to the quiet collection of 18 houses. Last year, a clear channel lead from the parking area to the village beach. Yesterday, we had to wind around sand pars and expanding rivulets that now cut off the village from the “mainland.” The homes of the 18 families who live here won’t be around much longer. The storms are getting too severe and the high tide line is now less than a foot below the support beams of the wooden buildings.
Our time in the disappearing village was important. It helped our students understand what it means to feel comfortable in a setting far different from their home. Each of the participants embraced the experience – exploring the natural place with a background of science and perspective, connecting with people through language and play, asking good questions, bonding. Our discussions throughout the day highlighted the education our students are receiving, making clear the internal and external value of this learning. But the village was the place where it all started to make sense.
Looking ahead, we are excited about our time in the mountains. It’s hot down here – the cooler air will be a welcome change. There is so much to learn. We’ve come up with great questions to try to answer. What’s the deal with the Civil War anyway? How does Guatemala today reflect the Mayan heritage of the majority of its people? Some of the answers lie on the shores of Lake Atitlan.
We can’t wait to share more student reflections. But, for now, please know that we are having an incredible time.