Wow what a week it has been! I had no idea that we would be this busy but we have been busy with incredible experiences.
Last weekend we went to Panajachel, a town on the beach of Lake Atitlan, a Lake in the crater of an inactive volcano. It was about two hours away so we had ourselves a little mini vacation and stayed overnight in a hotel in the town. The city and the mountains were absolutely BEAUTIFUL and the city was beautiful as well. The market was so much fun, so much to look at, I wanted to buy everything and the only reason I didn’t is because I don’t have any room in my bag… Annie and I took a ride all around the town in this little red vehicle called a TukTuk and it was so much fun. We had a great conversation with our driver who was a 16 year old native named Jose. On Sunday we crossed the lake in a boat. It was a beautifully sunny day and the hour boat ride was unreal. We boated over to the island of Santiago and got to explore there and visit a huge church. There was a service happening and it was neat to see the religious differences in cultures. We had a mini lecture on Mayan and catholic religious practices and then we were given more time to explore. We all got choco bananos (basically the best thing ever, some of us think we should start a choco banano stand when we get back) and then returned by boat to Panajachel. We made it back to Xela around 8 and got ready for another week of school!
On Tuesday some of us got to learn how to make chocolate. We went Josefina´s house (also the home of Jen and Cat) and she explained to us the entire process and after we got to mold the cocoa, pound it into bars, smooth it out, cut it, and then stamp it. Oh my, it was so fun. We also got to try hot chocolate that she had made and it was possibly one of the best things Ive ever drank.
On Wednesday we had a salsa dancing lesson in the afternoon. It was so incredibly funny seeing the guys in our group trying to salsa.
That night we all went out salsa dancing at the La Parranda and my goodness it was fun! I danced with one of the salsa teachers there and I learned a lot!
Thursday some of us went with our teachers to the Museo de Traje Tipico, which was a museum full of typical indigenous clothing throughout the ages and the machines they use to construct them. We had a tour of the museum and we learned a lot. After school we hiked up to La Pedrera, an after school program for kids who need a place to be. I was working with the younger kids and I had the time of my life. We played kickball, did homework, and colored with crayons. At the end we handed out a snack we had brought them. For some of these kids this was the only food they would eat all day. Being there with those kids was such an eye opening experience and something I could definitely see myself doing in the future.
Friday my teacher and I went to the market. Never in my life have a seen so many fruits and vegetables. All along the street were mounds of fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies, bins of beans and rice and dried fruits and dehydrated fish and nuts. I could just feel the culture pulsing through my veins it was fantastic. I bought three huge mandarins, three apples and two plums for 15 quetzales. That is less than $2. It blows my mind that I can buy $10 worth of fruit for a mere two! And oh my the mandarins…de. lish. Friday afternoon we went to a hot springs in the mountains! It was like a big swimming pool but full of steamy water. I haven’t felt water that warm in weeks it was absolutely fantastic…
Saturday we woke up early and headed up to Lake Chikabal. We were all in the school bus driven by Don Luis. On our way up we had to drive up some pretty steep hills and the bus was having a very hard time. Finally it just came to a stop and Luis said ya no mas. No more. So ten of us got out and started walking so the bus would be lighter. The bus started again and was able to make it up but for ten of us the hike started early! The hike was absolutely beautiful. There were trees of every sort, bamboo, wild flowers, it was fantastic. We could see the volcano Santa Maria steaming in the distance and when we reached the summit we could see down into the crater where Lake Chikabal was located. Then we hiked down 589 steps (Kim´s sons counted) and arrived surface level at the lake. It was breathtaking. We could here voices singing and when we walked the perimeter of the lake we encountered several indigenous Mayan groups worshipping. That evening a bunch of us went to a professional soccer game at the Xela stadium. The game was between Guatemala City Municipal and the Xela Superchivos. Of coure we were rooting for the Superchivos and they won 3-0! Woohoo!
Sunday we went to Momostenango to the house of Telma and Luis. Telma and Luis come to Casa Xelaju (our school here) every day to sell their products to the students. We went up to their house to learn how they make everything, from shearing the sheep, combing the wool, spinning the thread, dying the thread and weaving the yarn into rugs, hats, purses, jackets and more. It was so interesting and I even got to spin some yarn! After we returned a bunch of us went to go get ice cream, we are trying to get our ice cream fix in before we are deprived in Honduras...
This weekend is the Plunge and we are all getting so excited, we have had so many adventures thus far but we have so many adventures yet to come...