A perfect beginning, by Ellie 1.3.2009

Alzar School | 04.01.09

Talk about an exciting past couple of days! We experienced how people celebrate New Years Eve down here. Some houses make old men stuffed with plastic and fireworks and dress them up in outfits, which includes a mask; seeing them in front of the colorful houses was a little scary. Around dinnertime, someone dressed up with the mask of their old man, and danced and sang in front of our door and wouldn’t go away until we gave him money. At twelve o’clock, on New Years, they burn the stuffed old man, who symbolizes the past year. Besides watching a stuffed man turn to ashes, we also learned that you are supposed to eat twelve grapes, on for each month, and make a wish on each. When we woke up on New Years day, we quickly got dressed, ate, and set out for our hike, which was nine miles or so- no big deal. The hike, or caminata, from Jalcomulto to Xopilapa was very challenging, but it was all worth it when I reached the top of the montain and saked in the beautiful sightes of the mountains covering the horixon. Standing there, looking out at the canyons drenched with green trees, whith my friends at my side, and a donkey carringing all of our school supplies, was the perfect mixture for a great day- and that was only the beginning. As we progressed into rural Mexico, my excitement to give all of the supplies to the kids grew immensely. When we reached Xopilapa, we quickly hurried over to the school, where all the kids were waiting for us. We organized our supplies into piles as the kids organized themselves into two lines according to age and gender. Just before we handed out all of our things, Marisol stood up and spoke to the kids. The way she captivated the audience was so inspiring. The little kids looked up to her with big eyes filled with excitement and it was at that moment that I thought Marisol should run for president. While handing out pencils and crayons to them, I realized how much a thing like a pencil could do for them, they were grateful for all of the things that they got; for me I realized how fortunate I am and how great it felt giving things away.

After that, we went and relaxed by the river for a while; when we returned to the house we were going to stay at for the night, we were welcomed with a nice, hot authentic Mexican meal. We had beans, rice, and hand-made tortillas filled with deliciousness. After I got a tour of the town, I played various games with the kids at the house, like running around, skip-it, spinning around in circles, and soccer.

The next day we had a great breakfast of tortillas, beans, and eggs with some sort of red sauce. During our walk back to Jalcomulco, Becca and I sang numerous duets for the lower-school Christmas concerts and time just flew by. When we got back to the hotel, we took showers and ate lunch. We then left for Jalapa to get groceries. The car ride was fun because we got to decide exactly what we were going to be having for dinner for the next five days and buy them in the grocery store. I wandered through the aisles looking for a soup that everyone liked—looking back on it, I probably looked pretty silly. That night, Jessica, Maggie, and I made dinner and after that Becca and I walked to the paleteria and got chocolate and coconut nieve (which is icecream but Bluebell or Coldstone can’t even compare)… it kind of has the consistency of dough.

Today (January 3rd) Becca and I were the “leaders of the day” and we got to pick which rivers we were going to go on, when we were going to wake up, have meals, and so on. Today we paddled el Rio Actopan and it was one of the funnest rivers ever. Each rapid was really long and had plenty of waves and holes and swift currents. We tried surfing in a spot which was really challenging; then we also tried doing some tricks (by the way, surfing is something you do in your kayak, we didn’t bring a surfboard, Dad). These past couple of days have made out to be a perfect beginning for 2009.