"Wow, this trip seems like a wonderful dream in which I am hoping not to wake up. Maybe it's because we are living in the moment, not worrying about tomorrow...or maybe we feel pulled from our own world in order to stop and take a deep breath."—GCN trip participant
High in the Sierra Norte region of the state of Puebla in Mexico lies the market town of Cuetzalan. Outside of Cuetzalan about 20 minutes by local minibus is the village of Chicueyaco. This is a Nahua community. The Nahua are an indigenous group descended from the Aztecs that have maintained their customs and their language. Traditional healers use native plants to treat diseases, and cooking is done over an open fire. The primary occupation is agriculture, although some of the people work in the town of Cuetzalan. In Chicueyaco, Nahuatl is spoken and Spanish is a second language. The Nahua women’s committee has built a small health clinic in the village of Chicueyaco in conjunction with GCN. Although the clinic is not fully complete, the community has been using the pre-natal clinic since 2005, offering immunizations and health care education to local people. Future GCN teams will work alongside community members to finalize the clinic.
Upon arrival in Mexico City, the group will travel together directly to the city of Puebla, a two hour bus ride from the airport. Puebla offers a lively zocalo, or central plaza, as well as terrific restaurants and shops to explore. The next day, the team will travel to Cuetzalan, where they may visit one of the largest indigenous markets in the region. During the program, the team will be housed in an eco-lodge named Taselotzin, run by Nahua women from communities, including Chicueyaco. The team will meet with the villagers of Chicueyaco and plan the project work for the trip. Upon departure from the host community, the team will return directly on a 5 hour ride from Cuetzalan to Mexico City. No specific skills are needed, although participants should be able to hike steep terrain.
A Day in Community
The morning starts with the crickets and cicadas of Mexican gardens serenading the team members. The sun rises over clouded banks that fill the mountain-lined horizon of the Sierra Norte region as the team begins their day with a breakfast of hot chocolate, pan dulce, fresh pineapple and melon, and coffee. After a scenic bus ride, the team is welcomed into the Nahua community with open arms as they being the day’s work. Some tasks include painting and installing light fixtures alongside community members. Taking a break for a lunch of beans and handmade corn tortillas, team members have a chance to chat with community members or play a quick game of soccer with the kids. After lunch the team continues on with the work on the community project or visits local sites around the community. Team members arrive back at the eco-lodge and are greeted by the smells of soup and beans made from scratch. Tea with orange blossoms picked fresh from the garden in the backyard, along with tortillas and fresh avocados make up dinner. After dinner, team members have time for conversation and reflection by the hotel's fire before returning to their rooms.
Program fees cover on-site accommodations (lodging and meals), in-country transportation, orientation materials, a donation to the project, emergency medical and evacuation insurance, and a team leader to manage logistics and facilitate your cultural immersion experience. Airfare to/from Mexico City and costs relating to activities outside of the village are an additional responsibility of the individual participant.