Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Caribbean Culture in Guatemala: Livingston

We traveled to Livingston with our MCC team for a relaxing team retreat. It's a town on the Caribbean Sea that we could only reach by boat, so we took a boat up the Rio Dulce to get there.
It was a beautiful 80-minute boat ride.
 On our first full day, we took a boat to visit 7 Altars, a set of secluded waterfalls that we trekked up a river to find.
 Michael and some of the staff decided to jump into the pools below.
 The girls enjoyed watching.
 Then we took the boat to "Playa Blanca" (White Beach) to relax and enjoy the sand and water.
 Hazel and Ellie loved every second of it. 
Ellie swam and swam. And swam.
And swam some more.

Our team seemed to enjoy the setting too.
 The next day we went to a local Garifuna organization to learn a bit about their food and culture. We took a cooking class to make a traditional Garifuna meal.

Quick history lesson: The Garifuna people are descended from West Africa but live primarily in Central America (Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras) with a huge population that has resettled in New York City and other major US cities. They have a distinct culture, language, and history, and are well-known for their music and dance.
 Freshly caught Red Snapper fish, ready to be filleted. 
 A couple of our staff preparing the fish. 
 Ellie helped shred the coconuts, while Hazel entertained us with some drums made from turtle shells.
 A lesson in how to cut open a coconut, using a gigantic machete. 
 Though Michael isn't a huge fan of seafood, especially shrimp, he spent the afternoon peeling shrimp.
 Ellie found a friend, of course. 
The final product: a delicious coconut milk-based soup with shrimp-based dumplings...
...and coconut milk rice with fried red snapper. It was a fantastic meal.

The rest of our retreat we spent enjoying each other's company.
 Ellie played Minnie Mouse dominoes with three of our male staff.
Have I mentioned how blessed we are that our staff are so sweet with our girls? It's pretty awesome.
We swam. A lot.

We had a great trip, relaxing and bonding as a team. We also said farewell to two of our 1-year workers who left last week to return to their homes in Canada. 
On the way home from Livingston, we stopped as some Mayan ruins.

I'm impressed with the diversity that can be found within Guatemala. A diversity of cultures, climates, beaches, mountains, indigenous groups, languages, and food. It's a beautiful place to live and explore. Who wants to come visit? 

1 comment:

Stan LeQuire said...

I'll come visit for sure. Always wanted to go to Livingston!