We woke up bright and early this morning, ready for our first full day in Antigua. Breakfast was hearty. We're talking sweet bread, melons and watermelon, and mosh, which is a lot like Cream of Wheat but sweeter and yummier. Stomachs full, we set out for the bus stop. We were going to the school to meet the kids for the first time. We used Antigua public transportation, and it ain't no Monorail. The buses got packed in three to a seat, with people often loading and unloading through the back door, what I have always understood to be the "emergency exit."
Colegio Valle de Almolonga is located just up the street from the bus stop, and consists of a little courtyard with a building and a garden with lots of plants and a pond. When we arrived, all the students, first grade through high school, came out into the courtyard and lined up. It started out with a quick ceremony. The head of the school gave a speech which, though my Spanish isn't great, I was able to translate roughly as "Thank You." Mr. Bob Huppe gave one right back, which was generally, "No, Thank You." Some of the younger kids gave presentations as well. They performed a quick skit for us, and several seventh grade boys expressively recited poetry. But my favorite part was when a little girl, who couldn't have been more than eight years old, thanked us for coming in excellent English, which she had clearly worked hard to learn.
Once the festivities were over, the school set us up with these sweet T-shirts and a little surprise, too: breakfast numero dos. Tamales and cupcakes.
We met the high school kids, who we're going to be spending most of our time with. It was a little bit awkward at first, since no one really knew what to say, let alone how to say it. But things loosened up fast. They took us on a walk around their garden, but things really heated up when we brought out the frisbees. We played catch for a while, and Ben, Ryan and I bonded with the guys over a little chat about "las chicas."
We played some soccer after that. They were waaay better at that than at frisbee.
It was great to meet them, and we're all really excited to get to know them over the next week, but duty called. So we did some work on the computers, and then took the bus back to our house in Antigua.
Everybody was pretty tired, so we took a little siesta at the house. I scored major points with our hostess for telling her "Que Sabrozo!" at lunch.
All rested, we took a walk to the market, which is touristy but still a lot of fun. There are tons of stands selling T-shirts, bags, swords (loaded up on those!), hackey sacks, DVDs, CDs, and various other trinkets. Since we're going back on Sunday, this was a sort of scouting trip, with the real purchasing to be done in a couple days. But I did buy a Harold and Kumar DVD for 10 quetzales (about $1.50). Don't worry--the DVD said "100% DVD original" on it, so it must be legal.
The notable event of the excursion: a Guatemalan kid who was probably like six years old latched onto us while we were in the market. He was a pretty angry kid. He followed us everywhere in the market, periodically socking us in the stomach, groin, thigh--anything he could reach. At one point, he had a piece of grass twine which he was whipping us with. We thought we lost him at one point, but then all of a sudden he hopped off of the bumper of a pickup truck, and he was with us again. He might have followed us home, but fortunately someone he knew stopped him as we were walking towards the edge of the market.
So that was day two. Tomorrow we climb the volcano which should be totally awesome.
For now, goodnight, Seattle. And good luck.