Friday 11 January 2013
Highlights: Local Market, Weaving Class, Local Artwork, Piñata Fun, Homestay.
A huge fun packed day easily the highlight of this part of the 16 day tour. I started the morning by actually shopping in the local market and buying some artwork. After last nights sunset I just had to have a momento. Unfortunately Laura wasn’t feeling better today and decided to skip tonight’s local homestay.
At 2 pm we boarded our boat for a leisurely cruise to the other side of Lake Atitlán to the village of San Juan. The lake is enormous and surrounded by mountains and volcanoes. Over the last year with lots of rain the lake has reclaimed some of the coast and there is now some houses underwater with their roofs barely showing.
The stay in San Juan is part of G Adventures support of local communities. As part of that the local association took us to visit various women’s cooperatives for both artwork, natural medicine (including a midwife service) and handicrafts. These women are trying to support themselves and their local community and several members of the group bought some of these products.
Our tour of the village included various public artworks celebrating their Mayan heritage and traditions. At one stop some of our group had the Mayan horoscopes read. We also visited a local coffee bean farm and a leather maker. This village is really good at finding ways to support themselves and to keep their community together.
Our guide Andrea had an excellent idea to bring a piñata for the local children. The results were hilarious especially when us tourists had a go! The children couldn’t help themselves when some candy came out as they rushed around collecting the goodies in excitement. Smiles all round from the children and their parents, really enjoyable.
After this event we were introduced to our families for the night. James and Robin bought some small chicks and their homestay boy was extremely excited to see them. I started noticing now much taller I was then all the locals and especially the members of my new family. My house for the night had an extended family living their of three generations. Their were language barriers but I think there was one grandmother and her two daughters who had their own families.
I spend most of my time with three children aged 5 (girl), 6 (boy) and 9 (girl) but I also got to hold their 9 month old brother for a while as well. I had bought colouring books and a pack of cards with various animals on them. We started drawing the animals on the cards. The youngest girl especially liked playing with me wanting to ride on my back, by tickled and to jump on my when I wasn’t looking. All the children displayed a lot of affection with lots of hugs.
I bought the children some treats as well. After a home cooked dinner I showed the family photos of my family on my iPad and them some of my trips. The children got very excited with the Antarctica penguin photos. Around 10 pm I let the children play the games on the iPad in particular ‘Cut the Rope’ and ‘Angry Birds’. This was the only time I didn’t have them hugging, drawing or jumping on me and I still had them on my lap. Around 10.45 pm I was exhausted and we all went to bed.
The children reminded me of my nieces and nephews back home. The oldest daughter is already taking on responsibilities for her siblings. They were very friendly children. I hope the visit and support via contributions and gifts helps.