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After spending more than a week in San Andres Itzapa, holed up at Maya Pedal, Rebecca and I plan to resume our travels tomorrow morning. In some ways, it will be tough to leave. We’ve had an incredible time here interacting with our new friends and it’s nice to, once again, be involved with something greater than ourselves. Time marches on though and Patagonia isn’t getting any closer!

Highlights of our time here:

Being involved with the construction of various projects.

Each day we were tasked with multiple projects, many of which required us to stretch our limits in terms of creativity and problem-solving. It’s wonderful to exercise our brains like that.

Clearing out some junk to make room for the shipment of bikes due to arrive soon.

Climbing Volcán Acatenango.

I detailed our experience in a separate post but it’s worth listing again as we won’t soon forget the sights and sounds of being that close to an erupting volcano.

Visiting a remote Mayan Village.

We were invited to sit in on a town meeting where the women of the village were presented with opportunities to sell their wares in a collaboration with Maya Pedal, an opportunity that was very positively received.

Participating in a “Let Girls Lead” Christmas party.

The smiles on the faces of 20+ young girls from Let Girls Lead (Las Niñas Lideran) who visited Maya Pedal for a Christmas party was truly memorable. We enjoyed a great meal with them too!

Nightly bonfires.

In our efforts to get rid of a huge pile of scrap wood, we built ourselves a bonfire every night for the past week. Rebecca and I, along with our friends and fellow volunteers Dave and Luis, would gather around the fire each night to talk, tell jokes, and simply enjoy the cool air and warmth of the fire.

World’s best taco stand?

Just up the hill from Maya Pedal is one of the best taco stands that we have found. Street food is typically very inexpensive and in this case, it was incredibly tasty too. We visited this taco stand several times for our evening meals.

Servicing our own bikes.

As we’ve traveled a couple thousand kilometers since last having it done, we had planned to have our bikes serviced in Antigua. But, since we were spending our time in a full-on bike shop, we figured, what’s the worst that could happen if we did it ourselves? It’s rewarding to take care of our own gear and cheaper too!

My first attempt at truing a bicycle wheel. NOT one of our wheels though!

Spending Christmas Eve with a Guatemalan family.

We were invited to spend Christmas Eve with Maya Pedal director Mario’s family and we got the full Guatemalan experience! An experience that included setting off fireworks on the street, hugs at midnight, and a wonderful tamale dinner. Although we weren’t present to witness our own family open their Xmas gifts, we did get to enjoy seeing the smiles that resulted from our adopted family members open theirs. We were also presented with our own gifts too (see cover photo on this post), something that was definitely not expected!

Preparing a Christmas feast.

As a team, we prepared a feast that will go down in the record books. Our Christmas dinner included an entire turkey and an entire chicken that we cooked in an earth oven, a hole that we dug at 8:00 AM and then lined with hot coals. The meal was as good as any holiday feast that I have yet to experience.

The poultry was perfectly carved with my Morakniv Kansbol.

Special Thanks…

We’d like to offer special thanks to Mike Bruce for his extremely generous donation. We also appreciate the fact that he has been an active contributor to our site for years. Yes, we love to receive comments from our readers so please don’t be shy!

Where to next? Not very far, to tell the truth. From here we plan only to ride the 20 or so kilometers to the Guatemalan city of Antigua. Antigua is reportedly very popular and we figure it’ll be a great place to spend New Year’s Eve. We even plan to meet up with our friends Dave and Luis there on New Year’s Day after they return from climbing Acatenango. From there we’ll head towards El Salvador. We haven’t made any firm travel plans for that country so if you have some tips on must-see attractions, please let us know about them.