A few years ago, my partner Courtney and I stumbled across a travel blog that explained and encouraged fellow travelers to become a part of Pack for a Purpose. Intrigued and curious to learn more, we clicked on the link and read mission statements and real stories of travelers. We immediately fell in love with the idea of giving our own travels a bigger purpose and giving back to the local communities that we would visit around the world. As new travelers recently bitten by the wanderlust bug, we checked the Pack for a Purpose website for a viable option for donating at our next destination in Antigua, Guatemala. We found the Earth Lodge, an eco-friendly lodge and avocado farm 6000 feet into the mountains above Antigua. The Earth Lodge was sponsoring the El Hato School, which is comprised of about 300 children from the ages of 5-15.
So, Courtney and I set aside some funds from our tax returns and hit the supply store a few weeks before our departure with a list of El Hato’s biggest needs. With enough goods to fill two large backpacks to the brim we set out on our adventure. Side note: Prior to our trip, I contacted a customer service representative from our airline and explained to them our mission with Pack for a Purpose and they happily waived our baggage fees. This allowed us the funds to be able to purchase even more supplies for El Hato, so don’t hesitate to try the same if you have the time and are traveling on a budget. You might me surprised at the answer you get!
While in Guatemala, Courtney and I had the privilege of hiking the Actenango volcano, a 10 hour hike that goes through four different eco systems and reaches heights of over 13,000 feet. Needless to say the rest of our short trip to Antigua our legs were rendered nearly useless. With no sights to see or activities left to do on our schedule we began the trek to the Earth Lodge to unload our supplies for El Hato. This involved taking an Uber as far as a vehicle could possibly take us and then hiking the remaining way into the mountains to the lodge. The sights were breath taking but the trek was slow as our aching leg muscles screamed for a break. Several horses loaded with food and gear even passed us up on the way there. We contemplated being horseback stowaways for a brief moment. Almost there.
After about 20 minutes of hiking in the mountains we finally reached the lodge where we spoke with the staff and made our contribution. The Earth Lodge was very gracious and hospitable and we even made a friendly contact there who would later send us photos of the supplies being used by the local children. We hope to make it back for a stay someday. It truly is a beautiful location.
Lastly, we have an upcoming trip to Puerto Rico planned and were very surprised to discover that there are currently no options on the entire island for donating through Pack for a Purpose right now. With the local community of Puerto Rico still dealing with the tragic aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, this US territory island needs the worlds help now more than ever. Interested in finding out how we can be a part of facilitating that first partnership in Puerto Rico, we contacted Pack for a Purpose via their website and were honored to have had the opportunity to speak with its Founder, Rebecca, about making that goal a reality.
We are currently talking with several resources and foundations in Puerto Rico, in search for a great fit for partnering with Pack for a Purpose. So, cross your fingers and send good vibes our way as we set out on this mission. If you or a friend have any suggestions or know of place in Puerto Rico that might be interested, please don’t hesitate to let us know! You can find us on Instagram and YouTube under CastAway Escapes. Let’s be the change we want to see in the world!