This One’s For The Children of Guatemala! Our Greatest Adventure Yet!.

By Posted in - Central America & Personal & Travel Blog on October 31st, 2012

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Photos by Bethany Salvon | Story by Randy Kalp

On the shores of Lake Atitlan.

I’ll never forget the text message that set our traveling days into motion: “I can get an $8 plane ticket to Guatemala, do you want to go? Love, Beth”

Never ones to pass up a great deal, we booked the tickets immediately and prepared for our trip to a country we knew very little about. Our week long adventure took us from Antigua to Lake Atitlan via chicken buses and gave us chance to connect with a culture and country that we quickly fell in love with; However, it wasn’t until Beth and I returned earlier this year that we realized just how much we didn’t see.

If you’ve been to Guatemala, then you know it is an easy place to connect with. Not only are the people incredibly kind, the country is also absolutely gorgeous and at times just flat out majestic. Like any place, though, it takes time, or at least a good local connection, to fully grasp the undercurrent of any region, and on that first trip, we had neither.

All Beth and I knew when we touched down in Los Angeles one week later was that we both had left a piece of our hearts in Guatemala. That night as we drove back to San Diego under an inky California sky, Beth and I excitedly talked about our big travel plan, which was going to be a yearlong adventure, and how we hoped to spend several weeks in Guatemala learning Spanish. But life has a funny way of sending you down different paths that you never imagined, so it took us about five years to finally make it back to Guatemala.

Enter Cooperative for Education: an Ohio non-profit that’s making a huge impact in Guatemala schools, especially in rural communities, on the country’s staggering illiteracy rate by supplying schools with textbooks, reading programs and computer labs.

In July, we traveled with more than a dozen other volunteers to Guatemala with CoEd on a media fellowship, and we were so impressed with their dedication to future generations and the positive change they are bringing about that we decided to get involved even more than we initially planned.

During our trip, we had the opportunity to visit several schools, each one had its own charm and characteristics, but at the heart of them all were the students, teachers and families who sacrifice on a daily basis because they understand the significance of education.

Nowadays every traveler talks about getting off the beaten path, well, let me just say that CoEd took us farther from the backpacker trail than we ever dreamed possible. Ironically, we pretty much followed the same route as we did on our first trip to Guatemala but instead of hanging out on the travel trail, this time we hung out with kids at rural schools, learned about Guatemala through the people of the country and we even visited a student’s home to make tortillas. We were able to see an intimate side of the country that would’ve been next to impossible to witness on our own.

If you were following along with us in July when we traveled with CoEd, I’m sure you remember some of our tweets and status updates. And now for the next several weeks, we’re getting into the good stuff – all of the photos and personal stories that made this trip the unique and beautiful adventure that it was. There’s a lot of it coming up so be sure to stay tuned for all of the Guatemala updates!

We also have another announcement:

Beth and I were so moved by the work CoEd is doing in Guatemala, we decided to raise $2,000 to outfit a new computer lab in Panajxit, which was one of the schools we got to visit on our trip. And we need your help!!

This is what we want to do: Make a total fool of ourselves helping the kids of Panajxit! That’s right, we’ll be completing crazy dares in order to reach certain monetary goals so that we can bring updated computer equipment to some amazing children.

We’ll be announcing the official fundraising page shortly, but right now we need your suggestions for some dares, you know, like streaking through a mall or jumping into a freezing lake. What do you want to see Beers & Beans do? Remember, the more foolish or crazy we look on film, the better; it’s for the kids of course!

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*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Beers and Beans Travel Website & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you do want to use one of them please contact me first. Thanks!

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(9) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Jennifer -

    October 31, 2012 at 4:38 am

    I can’t wait to see more of those lovely faces in Guatemala! Just beautiful.

    • Randy -

      November 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      @Jennifer, They are the cutest! I was looking over Beth’s shoulder today as she was editing some photos of the children from that trip and couldn’t stop smiling.

  • Andi -

    October 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    I LOVED Guatemala! This is so amazing, what an awesome project!!!

    • Randy -

      November 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      @Andi, You and me both Andi! 🙂 I’d love to spend some more time traveling through out the country. If you think of any good dares for us, just let us know. We are up for anything! 🙂

  • Charu -

    November 2, 2012 at 8:59 am

    A great cause, you guys, and I am in the middle of putting together a “Travel Gives Back” Summit for 2013, that I would love you to speak at. Will send more details later. I’m so glad you got to do this and spread the joy!

    • Bethany -

      November 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      Oh Charu – that sounds really cool! Definitely fill us in on more details. 🙂

  • Ruth (Tanama Tales) -

    November 2, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Guatemala is my favorite country in Central America. I am glad you guys learned to love the people (and the kids). So happy because of your fundraising initiative.

    • Bethany -

      November 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      Thanks Ruth! We’re really exciting to be starting to project and we have a ton of great posts coming out. We’re hoping to raise a ton of money for these kids!

  • Brooke vs the World -

    November 11, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    I want to see you guys grease yourselves up with crisco and then slip and slide on a smooth public floor. That could be fun actually haha.