Today was my last day at school. It was a sad day, but it was fun too. Since next week is Semana Santa (holy week), this was the last day before vacations for my students. We had 7 students missing because of the holiday. The tradition in Antigua is to make an alfombra (rug) from pine needles, fruit, sawdust, and anything else you can find. Then the Easter procession walks on the rugs to the church. At school we made our own alfombras and then the older students went to each alfombra and had a religious reading. My class just walked around and looked at the alfombras, then had recess. We didn’t have classes today, but I did have a going away party and I got some presents from my students. I also got a lot of hugs! Here are some pictures from school.
Me with some of my students.
The kids love playing with my camera.
We got out of school at noon, and I went to the hostel. Loren and I decided to go to La Merced church, which was about 2 blocks away. La Merced is the church that is hosting the next procession on Sunday. Every Friday, the church that is hosting the next procession has something similar to a wake (that’s the way people have described it to me). The people from the church build a big alfombra and display all of the floats they are going to carry. People come from all over to pray and view the floats before they leave the church. Unfortunately we aren’t going to be there for the next procession, but it looks like it’s going to be great!
Alfombra inside the church
People selling things outside of La Merced
Later we had one of the best dinners we’ve had at a place called Kids’ Restaurant. A lady who stayed at the hostel recommended it to us. It was started by a Dutch woman and she runs an after school program for kids to learn English. One part of the program is a restaurant. The kids learn to shop for ingredients, read a recipe, and cook. Every Friday people can come to the restaurant (with free pick-up from Antigua!). The kids are the waiters and the cooks. There is a small room with 4 or 5 tables and one kid is assigned to each table. Since they are learning English, they are only supposed to speak English to the guests. They greet people at the door, ask if you want something to drink, set the table, bring the food (3 courses and a smoothie), ask, “How was the food?”, etc… This program has only been around for 10 weeks, and the kids are already speaking English very well. The meal only cost Q140 (about $18) for a smoothie, coffee, Coke, appetizer, main course, and dessert, and all the profits go to the kids for school supplies and other things they want to buy. We also got to tour the kitchen and see where the magic happens. It is very small, so we were impressed that the kids were able to make 8 different tapas (kind of like appetizers that are usually found in Spain). It was really nice, and the volunteers circulated around to talk to the guests. One girl told us how excited the kids are when they learn how much money they made. I wish I had some pictures, but my camera battery died. You should check out the website at www.kidsrestaurant.org. Right now they are saving to finance a library for the kids. It was great to see a group of hard-working kids who were really excited about interacting with people and learning English!
Tomorrow at 7:30am we go to Tikal! I can’t wait and I’m sure we’ll have a ton of pictures to show you!