Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Disco Dancing and Lagunas de Colon

Oh, I have so much to tell!

On Friday night the girls got all gussied up for a high school dance (disco) that they had permission to attend. I was invited by Suleyma, on of the senior girls and was actually made a chaperon for the night. The girls looked great. The guys were invited too, but for some reason only a couple of older university age guys went, and I think it was mainly as chaperons too.

We drove the short way in the combi van and got dropped off about two buildings down from the slaughterhouse. Music was blaring, lights were flashing, there was a cover charge…it was pretty great. The aroma of fresh manure and strong cologne was in the air. They had a nice covered area and tables and decorations set up. The first few hours were a lot of standing around waiting for people to dance, then there was an announcement of awards won by the students. Suleyma won 'best personality" which was cute, she was really shy on stage when she thanked everyone for their support. Next to the stage was a big screen showing music videos from popular reggeaton artists. Really racy, raunchy stuff. For a part of Mexico that is so conservative, it was such a strange thing to see at a school function. I swear the videos were screaming sex. Anyway, the music was snappy and the dancing began, and I got to have a pile of fun with girls I hadn't really hung out with much before. Nothing scandalous happened on my watch as chaperon, unless you count the ridiculous ways the High School boys were dancing with us. It's funny going to events like these because I remember being in High School and being so self-conscious. Now it's just fun to support the kids and have a good time and be completely myself and not be intimidated in the least. Granted I shouldn't be because I could practically be their mother!

We didn't get back until our curfew at little after 1:00am. The girls were in great moods, all giggling and talking about boys and other girls outfits….the usual stuff. I didn't fall asleep until after 2am. I was up again at 3:15 because some of the girls decided to forgo sleep altogether and had hit some kind of giggle high. I dragged my body out of bed at 4:15am, because we were all piling on to the school bus at 5am for a day trip to Lagunas de Colon. It was a tired pile of kids on the bus that morning. I don't think we could have fit one more bag on the bus, let alone children. Most of the seats had 3 people in 2, and many kids sat in the aisle. Felix and Robin (the German volunteers) tried sleeping on the floor. There was a baby in the aisle in a little seat, and a couple of older kids at the front of the bus leaning on the dashboard or sitting on the steps. It took us about 6 1/2 hours to get to the lagunas (lakes). Much of the trip was through winding mountains and several of the kids got sick. It was quite the adventure. I've since checked the map to see where we went, and we were practically on the boarder of Guatemala.

The Lagunas were crystal clear pools of water - a series of connected lakes surrounded by tropical trees. The water was a beautiful blue, sweet and so refreshing. Most of the boys could swim, but many of the girls didn't know how, so us volunteers spent some time giving basic lessons. I am a water baby. I love swimming and it was the perfect day for it. So hot but with a slight breeze in the shade. The littlest kids played in a special shallow spot and were so cute in their underwear. The little girls had bathing suits, but the boys rocked their tighty whiteys and had a blast splashing around. All the other girls swam in clothes. Shorts and tank tops or tee shirts. In an effort to fit in I wore shorts and a tank top with my bikini underneath. It is not the easiest thing swimming in clothes, and it just feels so weird.

I thought I was already having as much fun as possible, when some of the kids asked me if I wanted to see the cascade or waterfall. That was not a hard decision, and soon we were winding our way barefoot, along paths past more little clear lakes, crossed a few streams and heard the sound of the falling water. It wasn't just one waterfall. It was a whole pile of waterfalls cascading down a rocky hill surrounded by lush trees. The water pored over little hidden caves and into deep, crystal clear pools and then into a larger river with an amazing rock for diving. It was a scene from a fantasy novel. Slipping and sliding over the smooth rocks I climbed my way up into the first of the little caves that had a waterfall at it's entrance. I've always wanted to be in a secret cave behind a waterfall. It was small, but there were stalagtites and another little waterfall on the inside. It was the prettiest thing looking out, seeing the green moss growing from the ceiling and the water poring over the opening. There was another cave to explore too, and I spent the next little while quite happily swimming in this fairy tale wonderland. The boys were jumping from the big rock at the bottom of the waterfall into the deep, cool water below. I'm not much of a diver, and I always have to plug my nose, but it just looked like too much fun to resist. Sure enough, I probably jumped from that rock 15 times over the course of the next few hours. I smacked my feet on rocks a few times, which really hurt, but not enough to make me not want to try again.

It was such an nice change to be on an excursion with the kids, having fun all day and seeing them laughing and playing. We have fun on the ranch too, but this was a whole day just for them. We packed up and headed out around 5:30pm for our bus ride back to Ocozocoautla. I shared two seats with two secondary school kids, Luis and Ruby. We were pretty snug, but I was just glad to not be sitting on the floor. Every one was so wiped out. Especially the girls who had barely slept the night before, me included. The trip home took nearly 8! hours this time. Apparently, Tio Audi who was driving was trying to take less curvy mountain roads for the kids and at the same time trying to avoid the unsafe highways where robberies frequently occur at night. I think we may have gotten lost a few times. By the time we pulled back into our ranch it was 1:15am and it was a pile of child-like little zombies that exited the bus. And I don't know how Tio Audi drove a huge bus for over 14 hours that day on narrow mountain roads, but he did. There were limbs that I couldn't feel. I fell into bed, hoping that Sunday would be a day of rest for everyone.

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