My husband and I had been talking about taking a volunteer trip with our family for a few years. When we joined our travel club we loved the voluntour trips they offered. Going on one became a top bucket list item for us.
We chose building a bottle school in Guatemala as our first one. Our youngest daughter Destiny who is seventeen went with us on the trip. It was an incredible experience to share with her.
I didn’t have to do any research or planning for the trip. Our travel club is partnered with the Hug it Forward Foundation and all the details of the trip are taken care of for you. Your hotels, meals and transportation are all included with the cost so you don’t have to do anything but pack and show up. I love that!
It’s so much easier to have the planning done, especially with a family. I didn’t have to spend hours researching the area, where to stay, restaurants and all of that stuff. So I had more time to spend with my family.
Some friends asked if we felt safe going there and bringing our daughter with us. We did because we knew we’d have the Hug It Forward team with us and they’ve done many of these trips and place a high emphasis on your safety and welfare.
When we arrived in Guatemala City I was a bit surprised by how busy and crowded it was. There were so many buses and most of them were spewing black smoke into the air. I’m guessing they don’t have smog regulations there. It made the air in Los Angeles actually seem clean.
At the airport a representative from Hug it Forward escorted us to our driver who took us to the hotel in Antigua. We stopped along the way to get gas and there was an armed guard standing outside the door to the gas station with a big gun slung across his body.
We aren't used to seeing security guards carrying guns like that here in the U.S. but I noticed several places in Guatemala that had them.
After about a thirty minute drive we arrived at our hotel, Casa Del Parque, checked in and then decided to go for a walk and explore Antigua. We figured it would be a great way to wake up and stretch after the flight since we had taken the redeye and arrived at 5:30 a.m.
Hotel Casa Del Parque in Antigua
We walked to the Central Park which was just a couple of minutes from our hotel. There weren’t many people out since it was still early in the morning. The park was beautiful with lots of trees and a fountain in the middle.
I loved the cobblestone streets. It felt like stepping back in time. Antigua has a very Roman Renaissance inspired look with the cathedrals, cobblestones and grid layout of the streets.
On our way to the park we caught our first glimpse of one of the active volcanoes
After walking around a bit more and checking out a couple of cathedrals we went back to the park and sat down on a bench to relax and enjoy the beauty. All of the sudden there were two loud bangs in the distance that sounded a bit like gunfire. It made us all jump. We looked around and no one else seemed to even notice it.
We found out later that they set off fireworks to celebrate everything from birthdays to religious holidays. There was a parade/festival happening that day so we heard quite a few. We heard them several times during our stay in Guatemala and I jumped every time.
We enjoyed taking in all the new sights and sounds of the central park for a bit. Then we walked back to our hotel so we could meet up with others from our volunteer group.
I would love to hear from you! Have you been on a volunteer trip? If not, would you like to go on one and where? Please leave a comment below.