The Earth Lodge is nestled in the mountains overlooking Antigua and it was here, in this magical place that we laid our heads our first 3 nights in Guatemala. The view from the Lodge is spectacular, but the constant eruptions from a very active Volcan de Fuego, which can be seen in the distance, is where the real fun lies. Grayson watched for these eruptions with anticipation during the day while their rumbles woke this light sleeper many times, especially during our second night.

The Earth Lodge became Macie's home over the months she worked there and the ladies in the kitchen became her family. She asked me to bring each of these eleven women a small gift from the states when I came to visit. These Native women from the community of El Hato come to work proudly clothed in their traditional attire every day.

Macie's friend, Rosa, was overjoyed to invite us into her home for a photo session since her family had never had their photos taken professionally. Her husband is a seamstress who makes traditional clothing (each outfit takes 3 days to complete) and she especially wanted photos of him working because she is extremely proud of his work. Our session was more like a visit with an old friend, with Macie interpreting it felt easy, as if there were no language barrier at all. During our visit, Rosa emptied her closet, showing off her traditional tops and skirts with excitement, explaining what purpose each piece had (weddings, cold weather, sleeping, working, etc.) and how many pieces she had for each different occasion.

While I photographed the family I also learned a little about Rosa's children and their non-typical schooling. The children attend a private school in Antigua everyday and are away from home from 7a-5p which is rare and a huge privilege. The children in their village typically attend public school for about 2 hours a week since they are needed at work the rest of the week and the school is generally not open for more hours than that. Rosa's children's private education is paid for by donations and the children are given scholarships to attend. Generally a person chooses to support a specific child for the duration of their education (through 12th grade.) Andrea is in 3rd grade and the family is so grateful to a man named Luke who sponsors her education, currently they are still hoping for a sponsor for their sweet little boy. The family has to be very involved in doing everything they can to make sure their child attends school everyday and gets the most out of the program, it is a huge commitment for these families when meeting basic needs is a daily struggle. We asked how the kids get to and from school each day and Rosa proceeded to fill us in on all the creative ways they make that happen.

I could go on and on about this family and how I fell in love with Rosa, Luciano and their kiddos, but I'll let you look at some of the images I took instead.

One evening we asked the 3 ladies who were in the kitchen if they wanted to do a little photo session since they had never had their photos taken before, they were all about it, we included some of the rest of the Earth Lodge staff too and they even brought Macie and her close friend, Tami, traditional attire to wear during such a special session.

After a few days strolling the streets of Antigua but mostly enjoying the view from the mountains, Macie said some tear-filled goodbyes to her Earth Lodge family and we made the journey to Lake Atitlan.

Back at the lake, Macie lives up in the village of Santa Cruz La Laguna in an adobe home amongst the natives, who speak Kaqchikel. Like most natives from this area, Kaqchikel is their first language. 40-50% of Guatemalan's first language is one of 22 Mayan languages. Many older Natives do not even speak Spanish, which I found especially interesting.

Marshall and I decided to go the tourist route and rented a sweet little home down on the lake with amazing views from the front and the back (check out the images below) for a little over $100/night.

Macie was excited to get back to work silversmithing since we brought her some new tools and silver that she ordered from riogrande so I took the opportunity to take a few pics of her in her element (of course I did.) I can't wait to see all of what this girl creates! Follow her on instagram here

A day in San Juan La Laguna, basically the art district of the lake. Grayson had to have an ice cone or granizada in the school yard, then he really surprised me when he wanted to play with the kids and actually played a game of soccer or should we say futbol. He is also really interested in learning Spanish after this trip, I'd say that's a huge win!

We are missing Luz already

Macie and Pablo live in the cutest little adobe home on the side of the mountain in Santa Cruz. For a while now, Macie has been trying to decide which language she would like to learn next, but whether she knows it or not, I think the next language has already chosen her. One day as we were walking through the streets of Panajachel (another lake town) we passed by a thrift shop and the men standing in the shop face's lit up with the most amused expressions as she passed by. I asked Macie why they were looking at her like that, she said she was shopping there one day and they were asking too much for the items she wanted to buy, so she started speaking in their native tongue (Kaqchikel) and they immediately cut all the prices in half.

Finding love in Santa Cruz La Laguna. Macie lived in Santa Cruz in 2021, for 5 months. She left after those 5 months and one week later Pablo moved to Santa Cruz, barely missing one another. This time, back in Guatemala, they finally connected and it was like it was always meant to be. I have never seen this girl so happy and I could go on and on about how awesome Pablo is and why he is so perfect for Macie, but I'm confident you all will get to know for yourselves soon enough!

The tears come spontaneously for days each time I leave my girl so far away and I don't know that it will ever get easier. Knowing that she is safe, so incredibly happy and continuing to grow means the separation is worth it and this momma has to keep sucking it up because every step she has taken has made her exactly who she is today.