MEET OUR TEAM
Get to know the talented individuals who power Heart of Travel
CHELSEA | Founder
At the age of 19, Chelsea boarded a plane to Guatemala on her first-ever solo trip abroad. Knowing little about Central America, and not a word of Spanish, she hadn’t the faintest clue of the incredible journey she was embarking on. What was supposed to be a few weeks turned into three years, a new language, hundreds of friends from around the world, new jobs and skills, and more importantly a deeper insight into the world we all live in. These experiences inspired her to found a travel company that was dedicated to dispelling myths about Latin America and promoting positive and meaningful interaction between visitors and locals.
Currently based out Antigua, Guatemala but with frequent visits to her hometown Sacramento, CA, Chelsea dedicates herself full time to Heart of the Travel. Be it organizing and guiding trips, researching new destinations, writing blog posts or snapping shots for Instagram she lives and breathes travel, connecting with new people and celebrating diversity and culture throughout the world. In her downtime she enjoys running, cooking, horseback riding, reading and above all else catching up with family and friends. While she loves Guatemala, Sacramento is forever home and she is grateful for the opportunity to bring people together and bridge the two worlds. This year Chelsea and her boyfriend, Luis Miguel, are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their firstborn, Madeline, due in January!
Favorite Trip: Cuba
CHIVA | Co-founder
Born in Guatemala and raised in the city of San Lucas, Chiva is 100% chapina through and through. Life, however, has taken her all over Asia and to many parts of Latin America and the U.S. After living in Tennessee for a few years at a young age, Chiva developed total fluency in both English and Spanish leading her to pursue a career teaching ESL abroad in her early 20’s. While studying to get her certification she met Chelsea in 2011 and within days they were fast friends, an experience that deepened both of their understanding of and appreciation for one another’s culture.
Chiva’s bright spirit, passion for travel, and dedication to keeping customers safe, happy and healthy while sharing the beauty of Latin America with them makes her a stellar business partner and incredible tour leader. When she’s not guiding, Chiva oversees logistics, creates itineraries, works on consulting projects and strengthens our relationships with communities throughout the Latin American region.
In her free time, Chiva enjoys eating ramen, listening to podcasts, being in nature and spending time with her familia y sus amigos. She’s also obsessed with bugs and marine animals.
Favorite Trip: Ecuador
JIME | Administrative Director
Jimena, 100% chapina, was born in Guatemala and raised in the town of San Lucas. Jimena loves to travel almost as much as she loves Guate and spent much of her early 20’s abroad! At the age of 19, Jime moved to Switzerland for a year where she worked as an au pair, took French classes and traveled throughout Europe. Once back in Guatemala, she began her studies in Clinical Psychology and after 5 years, she finished her degree in 2019.
Jimena and Chiva grew up together and have been friends for over 13 years. In August 2018, Chiva and Chelsea knew they were in need of some extra help at the office and welcomed Jime to the team, allowing Heart to continue growing bigger and better every month!
While working at Heart of Travel, Jimena has developed a greater understanding of the similitude among the Latin American countries and the relation between them and the United States. Jimena loves being able to showcase the beauty of Latin America and share, from her perspective, the cultural differences and richness the region offers. In the office, Jimena coordinates reservations, revises budgets, and comes up with new ideas and projects to offer to travelers.
Jime seeks to do good to those around her and spread love and respect to people, animals and the environment and she is a proud feminist who defends justice at all times. In her free time, Jimena enjoys live music, gardening, spending time with her family, her cat, and her close friends!
Favorite Trip: Oaxaca, Mexico
PAM |Client communication
Guatemalan born and raised, Pam’s long-time dream is to become a citizen of the world. Aside from living in Arlington, Virginia when she was a little girl, and spending five years in Argentina after she graduated from college, she’s been able to experience the culture and everyday life in several other Latin American countries, developing lasting friendships with friends from all over the world.
When you meet Pam, one word that might come to mind to describe her is eclectic. With a degree in Business Administration, Pam worked as a manager at customer service outsourcing companies for nine years before her passion for documentary photography took her to Buenos Aires. Here she got away from the corporate world and developed a better understanding of South American culture and way of life, as well as cultivating her love for yoga, holistic medicine and a more environmentally conscious way of living.
La Antigua Guatemala opened its doors for Pam in 2018 upon her return from Argentina, with the opportunity to learn about hostel and bar management, focusing especially on bartending and mixology. She was a quick learner as reflected in her winning a ticket to Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in 2019. During this time she also completed her studies to become a certified sommelier and also expanded her knowledge in whiskey, craft beer, and coffee while working at our favorite Antigua bar, The Whiskey Den. Pam’s return to her home country also brought her another life-changing experience when volunteering for “HU-MANOS” a group of chefs and restaurant owners that created a mobile kitchen for the volcano relief efforts made after June 3rd, 2018 eruption of the Fuego Volcano. Overall her love for coffee, animals, waking up to 3 beautiful volcanoes and Antigua’s friendly and diverse community is what keeps her motivated and happy every day! Therefore it was a no brainer when Heart had the opportunity to add her to the family! Pam already wears a lot of hats at Heart of Travel due to her many skills, however, her primary focuses are client communication and services and new tour development. By mid-2020 she’ll also start dabbling in tour leading so you’ll all be sure to meet her soon!
Favorite Trip: Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
MAFER | Airbnb Manager
María Fernanda “Mafer” was born and raised in Guatemala in the incredibly beautiful city of Antigua Guatemala, the countries most visited site famous for its cobblestone roads and colonial architecture. Since a young age, Mafer has been passionate about the culinary arts and sports, with a particular love for fencing.
In 2016 Mafer began to work in Antigua’s tourism scene, managing a small bed and breakfast, café and boutique clothing shop that catered heavily to visitors from around the world. During this time she gained valuable skills and experience that made her the perfect addition of the Heart of Travel team in June of 2019.
Currently, Mafer runs our Antigua based Airbnbs, assists our reservations departments and is involved in new tour development. In addition to these tasks, Mafer is also actively involved with our sister non-profit, Fundación Fénix, working alongside the women to improve their designs and the quality of their craftsmanship while developing a strategic sales plan to help them get their products to a larger market.
Mafer, while sweet and nurturing by nature and always fashionable, is also a fan of adventure and outdoor exploration and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty! In her free time, she likes to go hikes, spend time with her dog and make cookies and cakes, a talent that is much appreciated by the whole team!
Favorite Trip: Chichicastenango, Guatemala
ANDRÉS| Operations Manager
Andrés was born in Guatemala and raised in the land of “jocotes” in a town just north of Antigua named for this delicious Central American fruit, Jocetenango. Andrés grew up inspired by and identifying strongly with the arts, especially music and dance, which take up a lot of his free time outside of work. He got his start in tourism in 2016 as an operations and logistics manner and overtime learned the ins and outs of Guatemala and was able to explore more of his own country, immersing himself in a new world full of life and adventure.
A passionate artist, when Andrés isn’t working in tourism you can catch him breakdancing with his Bboy Crew or working night gigs as a professional DJ. If that’s not enough, in 2019 Andrés and his business partners, Charly Rodriguez and Christian Alvarez, started a Guatemalan based apparel company called Badhero that seeks to provide Guatemalan youth with innovative designs that reflect their lifestyle at an accessible price, all made in Guatemala.
The newest hire here at Heart, Andrés joined the team in August of 2019 bringing his combined creativity and experience in organization and logistics to the table. He is in charge of reservations, pre-trip organization, and new tour development. In his free time, he enjoys listening to new music, attending art events and music festivals and gardening.
Favorite Trip: Tikal, Guatemala
ALLIE| Content Creation
Although Allie originally hails from the deserts of Arizona, traveling has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. From visiting family in Mexico and Puerto Rico as a child, to extensively backpacking regions of the world such as the Middle East, Europe and Asia, Allie has always yearned to see the world.
She first came to Antigua, Guatemala at 20 years old as a university student studying human rights in Latin America, with a focus on human rights abuses committed during the Guatemalan civil war. Within a week of arriving on what would be a year-long study abroad, Allie knew she would be spending more time in Antigua than originally planned. After finishing her study abroad, she extended her stay an extra three months to work and live in Antigua before returning home to finish her degree. After completing her degree in May 2019, Allie headed to the Dominican Republic to work as an experiential learning tour guide for high school students. In September of 2019, she returned to Guatemala and has made her home base here. Allie is our in house photographer, social media guru, and all over content creator. From photographing various tours to planning Heart of Travel photoshoots, Allie is the gal behind the camera.
Allie is passionate about sharing the beauty, diversity, and complex history of Latin American countries with those from her home country. She hopes to teach tolerance through travel, and that we are all connected on the basis of being human. When she isn’t traveling or working on a photo project, Allie likes to go to yoga, take morning walks around Antigua, and curl up with a good book. She also works as a freelance content creator and copywriter for international companies and plans to open a few small businesses of her own within the next year.
Favorite Trip: Cuba
SELVYN |Guatemala Guide and Driver
Selvyn Herrera was born on Guatemala’s Pacific coast, close to the border with México, in a small town called Ocós in the department of San Marcos. Since he was a little boy, Selvyn has always possessed an adventuresome spirit that has pulled him towards nature, outdoor adventure and sports such as football and fishing. Like a true chapín, Sel is a football fan and even play on Xela’s pro team for a number of years.
A lover of high adrenaline experiences, Selvyn balances out his restless nature by continuing his independent studies reading and staying up to date on archaeology, politics, history, flora, and fauna of Guatemala and its neighboring countries.
Selvyn has worked in tourism for over 13 years is a well known and respected guide throughout all of Guatemala. In 2018 he worked a freelance job for Chelsea and Chiva in the remote area of Huehuetenango and they quickly fell in love with his guiding style and overall demeanor. That July he became a fulltime member and continues to work hard every day while doing what he loves most, guiding torus and sharing his country with pride to all who visit!
Favorite Trip: Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
They are here to:
- Dispel myths and foster positive economic growth while respecting local customs, cultures, and communities.
- Change the way you travel and shake up an industry historically dominated by men.
- Provide you with a travel experience that is not only fun but also encourages you to broaden your perspectives and look at the world from various lenses.
- Create a type of travel that is sustainable and empowering for local communities and individuals, and kind to our environment.
- Share experiences that connect us with people from around the world.
- Challenge the status quo and shift paradigms as well all embark on a constant journey of discovery and growth.
- Be good and honest people and have fun while we’re at it!