July 3, 2008
“Muchas Gracias” were the words that continued to be repeated throughout the day and the evening.
We met at the community center at 8am and got to work, only to find out we were out of paint (again) no worries, right?! A quick run to the store? Not from Agato. Catch the bus to Otavalo and hope the store owner has found more of what we asked for the day before. A wild goose chase sometimes, but Pablo, our Ecuadorian guide got what we needed. Not to mention the way to make paint go further here is to just add water!!! More coats of yellow and adding the blue trim made for a nice contrast. There were comments of wanting to have rooms painted these colors, others were glad it was not something they were going to have to look at. (I personally thought it was perfect and cheery).
The mural maintained it’s general vision, but due to time and realizing how difficult it is to paint on uneven cement the ideas swirled and evolved into an amazingly thoughtful, display.
While we waited for the paint to arrive we headed to the field for some games. After we played and folks were starting the through the Frisbee, there was an initiation to pick up trash (from the students) they had mentioned it the other day, but in all my experience I was doubtful of the initiation actually taking place, let alone EVERYONE participating in picking up the litter that covered the field. I had to pry them away from the field to finish painting!!! This was an amazing site! A little while later a few of us caught a glimpse of a few small children from the town with handfuls of garbage (litter is not understood here, so this was an incredible site that I must say brought tears to my eyes as the actions of these teenagers was contagous!
Around 1pm our hosts families showed up with a ‘picnic potluck’ We walked out to the soccer field and they laid out a blanket and began to dump whatever it was they cooked for the potluck on the clothe. We had rice, garbanzo type beans, fried mashed potato cakes, brocooli, carrots, lentils, fresh salsa, black beans, avocado. Fresh pinnapple juice, tea. They passed out spoons and everyone could dig in! It was the perfect way to celebrate the end of our service work and the end of our stay. (Apparentlly this is a typical celebration when community work has been done.
After lunch and a little football (soccer) we all (including our host families and kids) went to see the mural. Kylee and Amy set up stations with different color paint and one by one everybody dipped their hand in paint and made their mark around the peace sign that incompessed the mural. Everyone laughed, smiled, and enjoyed the unity this mural brought!
We departed for a nearby waterfall for a look and a hopeful dip that turned into a scene we quickly discovered was unmanageable, so after a lot of pictures we walked back. Zach, Sam, and Hunter have been staying with Rosa and Juan, who also came with us to the waterfall and were the one’s so kind to spend hours teaching us to make necklaces, and donate supplies for our ‘schooling’ we thought it would be polite to repay them and perhaps do a little shopping. Little did Chris and I know what we were getting into!! Once again the whole family was there and we were welcomed with smiles and of course Andean music. The students are also wonderful shoppers, buying jewlerly, hats, pants, various items, all a fun and colorful scene. A small fire was started out back and soon we were all sitting around with Rosa telling stories and Amy and I trying to translate. I briefed the group on tomorrow’s activities in Spanish (more or less). Rosa thanked us all, and told us our being her makes her and her whole family very happy and she is sad to see us go. She told Hunter, Sam and Zach that she would like them to return with they are grown. She made sure the other girls were enjoying everything at their houses, Lindsay replied in Spanish that the food was delicious.
Then, Rosa had a tradition she wanted to share. She had us all stand up, then she passed around little tree bark dusting from the ‘holy tree’ it smelled wonderful! She told us to make a wish, then one by one we threw our handful into the fire. She asked if we wanted to dance and the music got louder and we all danced with joy around the fire.
WHEW, what a day!!! Chris and I keep saying what an amazing experience we have gotten and how lucky we are. Everyone is sad to be leaving. Kylee has been crying a bit, Zach wanted to make sure he knew how to say “these gifts are for you” Amanda is going to be giving her family a dictionary that we all think is a perfect gift. All in all everyone is great. Everyone worked SO hard! I never had to tell anyone to get up and work. More like encourage breaks and to eat! It is a real treat to work with such amazing and kind-hearted souls. We head out to horseback ride tomorrow