A Weekend Trip In Guatemala

My alarm rang at 4:00 AM. I arose, feeling excited for the new adventures that lay ahead of me. As I got ready for the day, I couldn’t help but think of all the beauty that surrounded me, and how good it felt to be so connected to the natural world around me. I was in Baja Verapaz Guatemala, going to hike El Biotopo--known for it’s stunning landscapes and a home to many of Guatemala's national symbols. El Biotopo is an ecological reserve near the well known town of Coban, yet remains relatively unknown by the many foreign tourists that pass through the area. Stepping outside the door to the seemingly endless and lush mountains of Guatemala was surreal. The air was so fresh and inviting.

Today, I was on a journey to see the elusive Queztal, the national bird of Guatemala, which is quite rare to see in the wild. Among Mayan culture, this divine bird is worshipped and respected for it’s gorgeous green feathers, and unfortunately, has been hunted to near-extinction for the same reason. As I ventured through the forest with some friends, we stopped at a tree which is known for attracting the Queztal, as the fruit it bears is attractive to this bird species. We waited patiently, hopeful that our silence would be rewarded.

Queztal Tree

Soon enough, I caught my first glance of the green feathers and long tail of the bird. It was indescribable. It confirmed for me that being in Guatemala at that exact moment was exactly where I was supposed to be. Being three hours away from the main city, I had no phone service. It was so freeing to be just completely in the present moment--to not worry about any texts or calls or trivial things that could be answered later. As we entered into the forest, I tuned into all the wildlife that was around me. I could hear birds calling, and the tranquil sound of water falling in the distance. Our guides told us about the conservation efforts in the area, and it was evident at how much they took pride in preserving their forests.

With just one weekend, I saw so many beautiful things and felt like I went on a retreat. It was surreal to be surrounded by nature, and be present without any distractions. I was able to reflect upon my time volunteering in the city, and gain perspective in the ways that I have grown from all my experiences in Guatemala with CCS. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path to do during your weekend free time on a CCS trip in Guatemala, check out El Biotopo in Baja Verapaz, near Coban.

Waterfall

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