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Introduction

Lago de Atitlán - Photo by Juan Galich

Hola everybody! I am so excited to be working this course in Guatemala! There is so much that I want to know about you all and so much that I want to share about this beautiful place and vibrant culture.  My name is Juan Salvador Galich, my friends and family call me Juancho, even my oldest son calls me Juancho most of the time (he is 3)!!  I’m a nature lover, mountain explorer, cheese eater, hot sauce maker, musician, adventurer, photographer, video editor and afternoon hammock-er. I have worked as a local guide for 18 years but have always loved Guatemala and the outdoors.

My life with Dragons began in 2009, Instructing my first course which immediately triggered many questions and fed my curiosity. It slowly started to change the way I understood this country, this planet, this life, all of us, myself. As the years go by, I move around and grow just by interacting in a more authentic way with locals, with travelers, students, and co-instructors, but especially with all their stories…eventually becoming part of them and vice-versa.

It has been 10 years now – some questions now have answers – but for sure I now have new questions. The difference is that I’m not bothered by it, because I also learned these things:

To embrace ambiguity and be ok with the new and unknown.

It taught me that before I try to understand the world, I can try to understand myself a little better, exploring and loving every corner of my soul.

It taught me to be more aware of my actions, of that responsibility that comes with being part of nature, of a community, of a movement, of a philosophy.

It challenged what I know and what I thought I knew.

It took me to places physically and emotionally that I had no idea existed, and that now I embrace.

I learned more about packing light. Now there is always room in my bag for more memories, gifts, friendships, food, songs, textiles, and things that I don’t know yet.

It gave me a sense of belonging in this world, this crowded, loud, lonely, quiet, noisy, melodic, abstract, real, intense, friendly, cultural, scenic, poetic, musical world of ours.

Guatemala is a tiny country full of all of this: of experiences, of people that will not hesitate to share a smile, mountains that will remind you how perfect and powerful nature can be.

A strong culture with a powerful story, that believes in sun and moon cycles, in energy, in the universe, in Nahuales, in Heart of Earth and Heart of Sky as the entities responsible for everything there is.

At the same time, this culture struggles with staying afloat in a sea of injustice, of globalization, monoculture, extraction left and right, plastics and phosphates, roads and hydroelectric plants.

I want to invite you all to get informed, pack light, prepare your minds and your hearts and get used to your water bottle and day pack. Our journey started a long time ago, and will go on for years. We will have one week of getting to know each other, catching up with ourselves, connecting with locals, sharing who we are, what we think and what we are curious about.

Oh yes, and eating delicious Guatemalan food!

See you all pretty soon!

Juancho