(Relaxing in the hot springs; Chris getting our friend Ron ready for the trip)
ICA, our language school. For the last 15 years, the school has sponsored a reforestation effort in the surrounding mountains. This project's mission is to raise a hundred thousand trees of local species such as alder, cypress, pine, and eucalyptus every year. Deforestation in Guatemala is a problem as 60% of Guatemalans still use wood for heating and cooking. We walked about 2 miles to a nursery on the outskirts of Xela with great views of the erupting volcano. It felt strange to walk in a city past internet cafes and clothing stores, while goats are herded down the street. On the tree farm working with friendly Laura, her son Julio, and another farmer named Carlos, we hoed, weeded, and raked until our hands blistered and our backs ached. Chris was especially brave and helped me pick the transparent finger-sized worms out of the freshly turned dirt. We felt totally beat after only working 4 hours, but we were quickly reminded of how lucky we are when we passed city block sized gravel pits where all work was done by hand with wheelbarrows and shovels. I think another trip to the Fuentes Georginas with Ron may be in our near future.