Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Surrounded by volcanoes!

By Ben Prickel
Second-year MBA

After an intense first week in Guatemala, Veena and I spent the weekend seeing some of the most beautiful sites in Guatemala.  FUNDAP arranged transportation for us on both Saturday and Sunday.
Veena and I at Lake Atitlan
On Saturday, we woke up early to begin our journey to Lago Atitlan.  I had heard that the lake was one of the most beautiful in the world, but I was not prepared for what I witnessed.  The lake sits in a valley of forest-covered mountains and volcanoes and is bordered by towns that are home to different peoples of the Mayan culture.  Our guide for the day spoke three different indigenous dialects along with Spanish and some English.  After snapping a ton of photos of the lake from a distance, we visited a women’s association in San Juan that hand-wove traditional Guatemalan clothing with colors that come from natural sources like local fruits and flowers.  Afterwards, we took a tour of the lake on a boat and stopped at several destinations on all sides of the lake.  There are many beautiful hotels that are situated on nearly vertical mountain walls.  We visited San Marcos, a small community where people come from all over the world visited to obtain peace through the practice of many different meditation methods.  We ate lunch at a great local restaurant in San Pedro before concluding our tour in the beautiful central park of the charming little town.
Fuentes Georginas
On Sunday, we woke up even earlier to get to the Fuentes Georginas that are situated very high in the mountains and are heated by the volcano Zunil.  The journey was nearly as wonderful as the springs themselves.  The mountains of Guatemala are unlike any others that I have seen.   The hot springs have been changed into a communal bathing area where one can find a mix of the local people and tourists from all over the world.  The water has been separated into three areas in order to segregate the heat for visitors.  I didn’t last very long in the highest pool.  After visiting the springs we visited a park on a mountain-side with an amazing view of Quetzaltenango before returning to the city for lunch. 
The trips to the lake and the hot springs were wonderful, but now we must turn our focus back to the work that we began last week.  This week we will transform the information that we have collected into business ideas.  FUNDAP has agreed to arrange visits to a few additional locations to further our learning at our request.  Our return trip will come quickly and we want to make sure that we accomplish all that needs to be done while we are here in Guatemala.

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