This past Wednesday our group planned and executed an outing on Lake Atitlan. We called this Mini X-phase, and it was sort of a practice round for X-Phase which starts tomorrow, and is three days of activities, transportation, and accommodations, planned by the group. For this Mini X-Phase we were given some guidelines and two contacts, one for the guide, Estevan, and one for a boat driver, Victor. We all met and assigned roles. Some people were in charge of snacks for the excursion, others were in charge of transportation, budget, and time management. My job was to call Estevan and organize an outing in the cloud forest over Lake Atitlan. We decided on a hike up to a waterfall where we could swim and have lunch, and then a hike back down. In order to get to the town in which we would meet Estevan we needed to take a boat across the lake, so Wednesday morning at 6:15 we all met up at Lema, a women weaving cooperative and store through which we had organized our homesteads. We then made our way as a group to the dock in San Juan La Laguna, and waited for our ride across the lake. When a boat pulled up on the side of dock with the words Vic-Man painted on top, we knew this had to be our guy. We all hopped into the boat and took off for Santiago. The boat ride was very fun, if not a little bit choppy for 6:30 in the morning. Upon arriving in Santiago we got, quoting Jochen, “slightly scammed” by a local man who offered to take us to the Banco Rural for 20 Quetzals, roughly 3 US dollars, a step we could have accomplished by asking any shop owner to point us in the direction free of charge. However we were running a little bit late, so we made the panicked decision to take him up on his offer. At Banco Rural we met up with Estevan, and loaded into the back of a pickup truck, in which we got to standup for the whole ten minute ride, held in by the sturdy metal framework attached to the back of the car. Unconventionally, the first half of the hike was down hill, so we arrived at the waterfall in great spirits, ready for lunch and a swim. The pool of water surrounding the waterfall was frigid, and standing under the fall itself was like standing outside in a hail storm with nothing covering your neck and arms, that is to say it hurt a lot. Nevertheless we enjoyed it, as it was refreshing in contrast to the humid atmosphere of the cloud forest. Finally feeling fully awake from our icy swim, we were all ready to conquer the return hike up the mountain. This eagerness lasted about five minutes before we started to become tired and sweaty again. After an hour and a half of walking strait uphill we took a long break by some benches, rejoining with some members of our group who had opted out of the hike due to not feeling well. We then complete the hike, took another pick-up ride, followed by another boat ride, followed by a short walk to Dragons’ program house, where we reflected on the day. Our Instructors agreed that there were relatively few hiccups in our plan and execution. We also all recognized some of the things that could have gone better, mostly the breaks in the hike should have been more well thought out. Looking back on the hike it is clear how far our group had come in the week since the trek. During the trek we had gotten frustrated with how long it was taking, and had taken out that frustration on the group, bringing the morale down and making the trek harder for everyone. This time however we all were more conscience about the needs of the group, and actively tried to bring the moral up when we were all tired and frustrated, half way through the uphill portion of the hike. Because of these major improvements in group dynamics I am very excited for what we will be able to accomplish during the real X-Phase, if it is anything like Mini X-Phase, there is no way it won’t be amazing and memorable.