Thursday, June 30, 2011

Community meeting

Thursday, 6-30-11

This morning we had a meeting with representatives from the cantons of Berlín. Every two months the Pastoral Team has a meeting with people throughout Berlín and the cantons. People from the Directivas (community boards) of the communities and sometimes other community members meet at the Pastoral House. There’s always a greeting, prayer, and reflection. Then for about an hour there’s a theme that’s discussed. Past themes have been people talking about their harvests, what organizations and institutions are working on with their communities, and sometimes they’ll have a guest speaker, like a police officer talking about how to keep things secure in the cantons. After that someone from each community represented will give an update on what’s going on in their community and the Pastoral Team will let the community know about upcoming projects and delegations.

I don’t normally get to go to these meetings because they’re in the morning and I have school. But I found out last night that I didn’t have school today so I was able to go to the meeting. The meeting wasn’t until 8:45am but people started arriving at 8:15am. Everyone got coffee and pan dulce when they arrived. I recognized several people. There were people from Alejandría, El Recreo, San Francisco, Río de los Bueyes, Virginia, Muñoces, La Llanes, Santa Cruz, San Lorenzo, San Isidro, and more. Eventually we all gathered in the chapel for the meeting.

Balmore welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming. We opened the meeting with a song and Elida led us in a prayer. Jesús then read from a Bible passage and reflected on the meaning of it. He said that the people here at the meeting were all community leaders and spiritual guides; not just the Catholics, but the Evangelicals as well. Sometimes people in the communities don’t go to church and give excuses like, “It’s raining” or “I have no car” or “I don’t go to mass because they speak of political things.” When this happens the community suffers. We are the ones that need to put life into our church. We must also remember that we aren’t going to heaven alone but together with each other. We are all brothers and sisters from the same Father.

After Jesús finished his reflection we sang a short song. Then it was time for Balmore to present the theme for the meeting. Today the theme was democracy. He began by asking everyone what they thought were necessary to have democracy in a community. Several people spoke up. In order to have democracy the people in the community must have a voice and a vote. The leaders of the community (the Directiva) must work with transparency. And there must be unity within the community.

Balmore then spoke of other things that a community needs in order to have democracy. One thing their communities need is for people to participate in general elections and community meetings; people need and deserve to be heard. A second thing that a community needs in order to have democracy is to have the participation of young people and women in the community. Many times the people at community assemblies are almost all men. Sometimes communities tend to discriminate against youth and women within the communities. Jesús added here that discrimination happens here in Berlín; he and the Pastoral Team have seen it. He said that the mentality of not including women and youth is a reality.

An example of how to include young people in the community is in Alejandría. Almost everyone from the community’s water project committee is made up of young people. Something else important and different about this committee is that no one from the Directiva is on the committee. It is made up of fresh, new people who will have different ideas than the Directiva. The idea of getting different people is to get other people to be leaders of their communities.

A third thing that a community needs in order to have democracy is when institutions, the government, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) respect the decisions of the Directiva and the community. It’s not okay for these organizations and institutions to put people into the communities to make decisions for the community. When this happens, it is not a democracy. Sometimes the people placed in the communities have bad interests or try to get the community to listen to them by buying people off. When decisions are to be made then the Directiva needs to consult a majority of people in the community to get their opinions to see what the community really wants.

A fourth thing a community needs is to be non-partisan. It is important that the Directiva not work for political or religious interests. The Directiva can’t listen to only one group, political party, or religion. Leaders should not be making those kinds of decisions. It’s not a democracy when we are working as individuals. We must be servants of the Lord in order to be leaders.

When Balmore finished talking we sang another song. Then the communities gave brief updates on what was happening. Las Delicias has a new Directiva that was voted in not long ago and a youth group is beginning to organize there. San Isidro has a women’s group that has been thinking of some things they’d like to do to help their community, like a natural medicine project. El Tablón centro continues to work on building a new church in their community with help from funds from Germany. Several of the communities that come to the meetings don’t have a partner church in the US (Santa Cruz, Colón, La Llanes, Río de los Bueyes, San Felipe abajo). But they are able to solicit the Pastoral Team if they need help with something and are able to connect with people from other cantons at the meetings.

Cecilia spoke shortly about the various projects that the Pastoral Team and partnership churches in the US have worked on recently with various cantons. Blanca informed everyone about the upcoming delegations and when the community meeting will be held in August. At the end of the meeting someone from every community present thanked the Pastoral Team for all their work. Altogether, it was a three hour meeting. 40 people came from the cantons, caseríos, and colonias of Alejandría, Bob Graham, Casa de Zinc, Colón, Las Delicias, La Llanes, El Recreo, Loma Alta, Muñoces, Río de los Bueyes, Santa Cruz, San Isidro, San Felipe arriba, San Felipe abajo, San Francisco, San Lorenzo, Talpetates, and Virginia.

When the meeting was over we all had lunch. Aminta, Idalia, and Margarita had been busy in the kitchen preparing lunch for everyone. We had chicken, potatoes, rice, salad, tortillas, and pineapple fresco. It was all delicious, especially after a long meeting. Everyone ate and chatted for a while. Slowly people began to leave and by 1pm everyone had gone. I’m glad I was able to make it to the meeting. It was good to hear how everyone was doing and see people I knew. Hopefully I can make it to another community meeting in the future.


June Compañeros report

June 1 – 5
Alisha’s family still here. Visited San Francisco to deliver fertilizer to the community. Walked to Alejandría to get to know the homes of the Pastoral Team. Took family to the Thursday morning market. Walked to San Francisco to visit the homes of several high school scholarship students supported by our church. Drove to Río de los Bueyes to hear testimony of ex-combatants. Enjoyed lunch at the “pool” there. Went to Alegría to say goodbye to the team. Drove my family to the airport on Saturday. Had my Spanish class and community English class on Sunday.

June 6 – 12
Returned to teaching English classes at the school. Delivered corn to San Lorenzo. Visited La Llanes to deliver clothing and toys. Went to Corozal to discuss construction of a bridge in Alejandría that they are helping to build. Had my Spanish class and community English class.

June 13 – 19
Taught English classes at my school. St. Boniface arrived. Visited three health clinics (in Berlín, San Jose, and San Lorenzo). Listened to Civil War testimony of Father Cándido from Berlín and Perfecta from Corozal. Visited the daycare and physical therapy clinic in Berlín. Went to El Recreo: watched young adult group perform, toured the community, did home visits, watched a fútbol game, watched corn delivery. Mass in El Recreo, helped prepare food for 500 people.

June 20 – 26
Visited three schools that St. Boniface supports. Ate lunch at the church in El Recreo with high school scholarship students. Had dinner at La Casa Mia to say goodbye to St. B. Returned to teaching classes at school. Had Wednesday off for Teacher’s Day. Dinner in Alegría to celebrate Teacher’s Day. Went to the beach on Friday with the teacher’s at my school for Teacher’s Day. Went without running water for 4 days. Had community English class.

June 27 – 30
Continued teaching English classes as usual. Went to Pastoral Team meeting with representatives from everyone canton. Drove to El Tablón to see new church construction and deliver packets to families volunteering to help build the church. Prepared for Central Presbyterian arrival.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Central Presbyterian delegation commissioning

The message below was written by Jim Wallace, the pastor at Central Presbyterian Church in Des Moines, Iowa. It was composed for the delegation of 7 people at his church that are coming to El Salvador this Friday. Jim gave both Kathy and I permission to share his words in our blogs. It is a beautiful message about the purpose of the Our Sister Parish mission.

Commissioning Message/Service for El Salvador Mission Trip 2011
One of the great impulses of the Church is to go out into the world. There’s a kind of restlessness about the faith that just doesn’t allow Christian people to stay home. Christians go out into the world.

You hear that, of course, in the Great Commission. And Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28). Heaven and earth belong to Jesus and so off to the nations disciples go.

Christ’s great ambassador, St. Paul, saw the Christian faith as something to share and spread. He would go and start churches, then drop by and check with the faithful to see how they were getting along and encourage them. St. Paul never stayed home. He was constantly on the go.

You might remember the maps on your Sunday school room of Paul’s missionary journeys. Going here and there, doubling back, crossing over and under, the lines and connections of his travels looked like a pile of spaghetti.

Well, on Friday of next week seven members of Central Presbyterian church will get up and go by boarding a plane and heading to El Salvador. For a couple of us it will be a return visit from 2008. Over the last three years a number of other Central members have spent time in El Salvador on their own or with another group.

Our Presbytery, the Presbytery of Des Moines, has had a relationship with a small faith community in Berlin, El Salvador for 20 years. Many of our churches in the Presbytery have made trips to El Salvador, some churches numerous times, forming partnerships with the cantons or villages in the area.

Since the trip in 2008 our church has helped support the Pastoral House in Berlin, El Salvador. This is the place where people in the community come for help and where delegations stay as they visit and establish relationships with various cantons. The pastoral team is also in touch with the leaders in the villages surrounding Berlin. And so, it is an important, even crucial, component of ministry in that community and region.

Part of our trip will be to spend time with the Salvadorans who staff the Pastoral House, so as to strengthen our relationship with them. The little bit of money that we send each month to the Pastoral House helps pay for water and electricity and simple upkeep so they don’t have to struggle as hard to meet those expenses. In turn they can concentrate on doing ministry in the community and villages that surround Berlin. Besides spending time at the Pastoral House, we have been invited into their homes—a great honor.

We will go and see some of the important places from El Salvador’ horrific and heroic past. We will go to the place where the six Jesuit priests were murdered at the University of Central America, a turning point in their bloody civil war and U.S. support of the brutal Salvadoran army that waged a war against its own people.

We will see the humble home of martyr Archbishop Oscar Romero, who began his career in a church structure that was closely aligned with the powerful and the wealthy, all in the name of stability and order. Romero was picked because it was thought he would not rock the boat. But he had a conversion of sorts and began to side with the poor instead of the powerful and began to preach about social justice and liberation. And for that he was killed, as he stood behind the altar, breaking bread during Mass.

We will spend time in villages and at various projects supported by other churches. There will be a dedication mass to celebrate a new cooperative that was the project of the Pastoral Team, a small village, the University of Central America, and the government of El Salvador.

We will visit some marginalized schools. We will see where the coffee you purchase is produced and processed.

We are taking some things that will be helpful. We have a bag full of school supplies, a couple bags of used eye glasses, a kit donated by an optometrist to test eyes, some basic medicines—all to be donated and left with the Pastoral House.

Now less you think this is a luxury sightseeing trip, let me assure you it is not. There will be no air-conditioning. This is a country in poverty. Accommodations include flushing a toilet and taking a shower by taking a bucket of water and pouring it down the stool or over your head.

When groups go to El Salvador they don’t go there with a “top down” model of wealthy North Americans doing something for the poor Salvadorans. As much as is possible, delegations go to El Salvador with the intent to “be with” instead of “do for.” Delegations go to understand the country’s troubled and sometimes horrific history, the social and economic forces that have contributed to systemic poverty, and, as much as is possible (for people who will return to warm showers, soft beds and an abundance of food), to live day to day and to share life with the poor.

Now this idea of “being with” instead of “doing for,” of relationship building instead of building something is a difficult concept for North Americans because out of our abundance of resources and power we are accustomed to taking on the role of superior fixer, the knight in shining armor.

As a writer on short term missions (somewhat) jokingly suggests, “having an engineer on your mission team can be a mixed blessing. Engineers are trained to diagnose and repair problems; it is part of their professional DNA. They will typically go to a service site and immediately begin to calculate the most efficient approach to the tasks at hand… [but that] won’t always work in another culture, and it may even be offensive.” [1]

One enterprising pastor in another setting got around this problem by having a wall that people could work whenever they would come on a mission trip. He has no idea what the wall is for or if it will ever be done, but it takes care of the problem of visiting teams needing to do something tangible. Then, once they get that out of their system, he says the real mission takes place—meeting and building relationships with the men in the community who need long-term training and social services in order to survive. [2]

And delegations don’t go with the idea they are taking God to these people; God is already there, among the people. Dean Brackley, an American born Jesuit priest, who moved to El Salvador after the six priests were killed, writes about the importance of not going with the idea of taking God to people, but discovering that God is already there, among the people. He says:

If we allow them to share their suffering with us, they communicate some of their hope to us as well. The smile that seems to have no foundation in the facts is not phony; the spirit of fiesta is not an escape but a recognition that something else is going on in the world besides injustice and destruction. The poor smile because they suspect that this something is more powerful than the injustice. When insist on sharing their tortilla with a visiting gringo, we recognize there is something going on in the world that is more wonderful than we dared to imagine. [3]

So, we go, but not with a “top down” model. We don’t go to fix or bring God. We go to “be with,” strengthen relationships, discover what God is doing.

In one of the great passages of the New Testament, St. Paul writes, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross...”

“Let the same mind be in you,” Paul says. Don’t grasp power. Don’t cling to position. Be like Christ who emptied himself in order to be with us, to share in our experience, our pain our, sorrow, our joy, our humanity. He could have hung on to his position and power as Lord of all, but he didn’t. Literally in every sense of the word, Christ set that asides in order to be with us, to be one of us.

And by implication that’s how Christians go into the world. That’s how Christians do their mission work. Not from a place of superiority, but humility. Not from the mindset that we have the money, we have the power, we have what you need and we are here to give it to you. Our attitude should be like Christ who set all claim to privilege aside and emptied himself in order to be with us, to share with us, to enter our experience and our humanity. And so we go, as best we can, following that example, not to “do for” but “to be with” and to “share in.”

When you approach such a trip as this in that way, you open the possibility of learning, experiencing, sharing, growing. I have already mentioned Bishop Romero. In the midst of the struggle against poverty and threat and violence and death, he is reported to have said these inspiring words:

“It helps now and then, to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the church's mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about: We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capability.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the lord's grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen.”

I hope our delegation from Central comes back with at least a little bit more faith like that, faith that sees the kingdom of God not as some far off ideal, some utopian someday. But the kingdom that we are called to work for and live for and strive for, not just in our hearts, but a kingdom of justice for all God’s children. Amen.

[1] Misguided Missions: Ten Worst Practices, by Mark Wm. Radecke in Christian Century May 18, 2010.
[2] Ibid. Adapted.
[3] As quoted in Misguided Missions: Ten Worst Practices, by Mark Wm. Radecke in Christian Century May 18, 2010.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Technically there’s running water

Monday, 6-27-11

Water runs every other day here at the house. It usually starts running sometime around 4am or 5am and runs until 8am or 9am and sometimes til 10am. This is fairly consistent and so we’ve come to depend on the water running at that time. Once back in May it didn’t run in the morning so I did not get a shower with running water that morning. When I came back from school I turned on the faucet and left it on so if the water began to run I’d hear it. It started to fall after lunch so we really didn’t have to wait that long.

Last Friday I went to the beach and we since had running water on Thursday I knew that we’d have running water on Saturday. So I scooped up water from the outside pila (cement basin) into a guacal (plastic tub) and added the rinso (detergent) to let my clothes soak overnight. They were full of sand and smelled like the ocean (remember, people swim in their clothes). I used a considerable amount of water from my own pila to take a shower. Like my clothes, I too was covered in sand and smelled like the ocean; not something I wanted to take to bed with me. There wasn’t a lot of water left in my pila by the time I’d finished. Not a big deal, there’d be water tomorrow.

Wrong! Saturday morning came but the running water did not. When this happens there’s not a whole lot you can do. You just have to wait until the water starts running again. We figured that the water would either come later that day, tomorrow, or not until Monday. But I really didn’t want my clothes sitting in the dirty water all weekend. So I dumped out the water and hung them over the shower rod in my bathroom. I didn’t have enough water to do laundry and since we weren’t for sure when the water would run again I decided against trying to wash my clothes.

Thankfully (at least in this situation), it’s the rainy season. It was overcast and I figured that it would be raining sometime soon. So I hung all my wet, soapy clothes outside so if it did rain then the sand and soap would get somewhat rinsed off. I went back in the house and told the ladies that they needed to do a rain dance. They actually sang a short song, and about an hour later it started to rain. Yay!

Several of the pilas at the house were very low and I wasn’t for sure how much water the ladies had in their pila. I saw the rain pouring down outside and thought about the floods of 1993 in Iowa. During that time, most of the city of Des Moines went without water for 12 days. And it wasn’t until 7 days after that that the water was declared potable. When we were without running water we collected rain water in buckets, garbage cans, and pots right outside our house. This is what we used to bathe, flush toilets, and do some cleaning. We bought water to drink and used a lot of disposable dishes.

After thinking about that I went outside to put guacals in the yard to collect rain water. We could use it for flushing toilets, bathe, and maybe use it to clean dishes as well. After setting up several guacals I went up to Kathy’s office to talk about the water situation. We talked about the flooding in Iowa and collecting water. We compared our lives during those short 12 days without running water to the people here who have never had running water in their homes. Some people may never have running water in their homes.

Many families collect rain water in big, black water tanks (if they’re lucky). The families in the canton of Santa Cruz just got water tanks this year in later March. People in the caserío of La Llanes don’t have big water tanks so they use the few barrels they have. If people in the cantons are fortunate enough to have a metal roof they can create a gutter made from bamboo or metal that runs from their roof to the water tank. That means that before the water falls into the tank it becomes saturated with anything sitting on the roof (dirt, leaves, bird droppings, etc.) Hence the importance of the water filters in the communities.

Several communities have a running water source (a pump) located somewhere in their canton. The water pump usually draws water from a nearby stream or river. Of course, the people in the community still have to walk to the water pump, fill up their cántaro (plastic jug), and carry it back to their house. Sometimes the water runs daily and other times it runs only a couple times a month. For example, the canton of Santa Cruz has running water but it only runs once and month with inconsistent timing. But now they have water tanks to collect rain water as well so they don’t have to rely on the water pump.

If you don’t have a running water pump then you have to walk to a stream, river, or a similar source to collect water. You scoop up the water in your cántaro and carry it home. This is also what some people do during the dry season since there is no rain water to collect in their tanks. Even if there is a water pump located in the canton people often to walk to a river or stream to collect water because the water from the pump may not run for several days (or weeks).

I know I’ve written before about the water situation in El Salvador. When things happen, such as the water not running here at the house, I try to take some time to remind myself of how fortunate I am. I have been blessed with many necessities that others do not have.

Comic relief: The water didn’t run Saturday or Sunday either but it did run on Monday. So I finally got around to washing my clothes. I had my dirty, ocean clothes as well as others that I needed to do. It took me a good hour to get everything clean. I finished washing my clothes and was just hanging up the last shirt on the clothesline when a passing bird went to the bathroom on me. It got all over my arm and the shirt I was wearing. I walked into Kathy’s office to tell her what happened and she started laughing. Oh boy. I sighed and went to change my clothes so I could wash the bird poo off my shirt.

The almost emply main pila

Collecting rain water

Collecting water from the roof in gaucals

Almost full

Another large barrel by the ladies area

A beautiful sight

We used all the buckets we had

Chelita wants inside Kathy's office

Barbara's guacal is full

A little river in the yard

There are my clothes

Cecilia cleaning out the pila

Monday, June 27, 2011

Beach outing with my teachers

Friday, 6-24-11

In celebration of Teacher’s Day, which was Wednesday, the teachers at my school were going to the beach today. They’d asked me yesterday if I’d be able to go and I checked with the Pastoral Team. The Team said yes so today I was headed to the beach. A microbus was going to be picking us up at the school at 6am which means I rolled out of bed at 5:30am. I am not a morning person so this was a bit of a struggle for me. But I’d packed up the night before and so I was out the door by 5:45am.

When I got to the school there were 7 other teachers already there. The microbus arrived at 6:15am and we were off. I was a little bummed at first because there were only 8 of us, but we ended up picking up 9 other teachers along the way so there were 17 of us. Several of the teachers live in nearby Mercedes Umaña which was on the way to the beach so it didn’t make sense for them to backtrack to Berlín. I was told it was about a 2 hour drive to the beach where we were headed called Las Tunas in the department of La Unión. In El Salvador, the word “tuna” does not refer to the fish but to a kind of cactus that is like the prickly pear cactus. However, no one knew why the beach was called Las Tunas (there were no cacti at the beach).

We made a stop in San Miguel so everyone could get breakfast. I wasn’t feeling terribly hungry so I passed. The area where we stopped was in the Metro Centro which is like a mall. I’d never been there so the director of the school and I walked around to look at the stores. It wasn’t exactly like the malls you’d find in the US but it was the closest thing to a mall that I’ve been to in El Salvador. After about 45 minutes everyone was done eating and we were back in the microbus. It was another hour to the beach and we continued listening to music.

We arrived at the beach around 9:30. The tide was high and all the way up to several of the restaurant areas. We found a good spot and unloaded our things from the microbus. Someone brought out menus for us so we could order right away and they’d have the food ready by noon. I usually have fish at the beach but the shrimp sounded good so that’s what I chose. We all looked at the water, took some pictures, and chatted for a while. Everyone had brought “swim clothes” with them. Most people in El Salvador swim in their clothes here. This was my fourth trip to the beach here and I’ve always wore shorts or capris and a tank top. I’ve only seen people in swimming suits a few times and it always seems out of place.

After ordering I went down the stairs to go walk along the shore and look for shells. Melba and Roxana joined me on my walk. We waded in the water, collected shells, and posed for lots of pictures. Melba really likes taking pictures so we ended up taking a ton. The tide was still high so we were pretty close to the other restaurants along the beach. After a while we reached a point when we decided it wouldn’t be safe to go further and we turned around.

In the microbus headed to the beach

The tide is high (but I'm holding on...)

Hammock time


We're at the beach!

In my beach clothes

Reading the newspaper

Picture time

Just for fun

A puppy!

In the water at last

Hello up there!

Looking down the shore

Roxana and me


Keeping close to the shore

There's Melba!


We went a little picture crazy

Up to another restaurant

Looking back down the beach

Melba and Roxana


Back at the restaurant I saw that many of the other teachers were having some drinks so I promptly asked where mine was. They all laughed and poured me something to drink. I sat down and we talked. There was an old juke box that played CDs so we picked out lots of songs to listen to. A couple people even got up to dance a little bit. We basically just sat around and talked until lunch was ready.

By lunchtime I was hungry and ready to eat. I’d ordered shrimp which came with salad, rice, and two tortillas. I’d forgotten to order something to drink so I just had the water I’d brought with me. During lunch a group of three guys came around with instruments asking if we wanted to hear any songs. We paid to hear them play four songs. It was wonderful to just sit by the beach, eat, and enjoy some music.

When we were close to being done eating someone came around selling crabs. Two of the teachers bought crabs to take back home. I said we could name them: this one is named lunch, this one is named dinner, etc. Some children also came around selling creations they’d made with shells. This is common at other beaches in El Salvador as well. I bought a little basket made out of shells for the Team. I also got a shell necklace that had little turtle beads on it as well.

Finally, a little boy came around selling a large shell decoration. I’m not exactly sure what it was. It had three big shells glued together and several little shells around it. The little boy had a big hole in his shirt and he looked like he came from a poor family. Being the sucker that I am, I ended up buying it (it only set me back $2). At some point after that an older man using two sticks as a cane in each hand came up to where we had been eating. I didn’t see him come up but when I looked over I saw that several of the teachers had given him some of their food and a drink and he was sitting at the table eating. I was happy to see that they’d shared food with him and that he’d been invited to sit at the table. It’s good to see people that you respect doing nice things for others.

When we’d all finished eating and buying some trinkets I headed back down to the beach. The tide has rolled out and left lots of shells behind. The guys were behind me and brought a soccer ball to kick around. A couple other teachers joined me as did the director, Andres. We walked out past the point where I’d walked earlier and found a small inlet where the water was warmer. We played and swam in the water there for almost an hour. Andres and I had a couple swimming contests and at one point I pretended that I was a shark and snuck up on Roxana. This resulted in everyone laughing hysterically.

You're having drinks without me?

Still in the hammock

Time to dance

I'll dance later

The sign behind them says, "Share the friendship"

Men at work

May I have this dance?

Lunch time

It was quiet

Being serenaded

Punches (a kind of crab)

Cangrejos (crabs)

Playing futbol on the beach

Lots of fun

Little shells on a rock

Seeing what's ahead

Low hanging clouds

It's a shark!

Showing off my shells

Is is safe to go in?

Lounging in the water

Cows on the beach

The water began to cool down and we could see that a storm was going to roll in so we started to walk back to the restaurant. Shortly after we got back it started pouring down rain. We all showered off in the little shower area to get some of the sand off. Once everyone was relatively clean and into dry clothes we got back into the bus and left at 4pm on the dot. We’d spent a little over 6 hours at the beach.

The ride back was just as fun as the ride to the beach with lots of music and singing. Not long after we left the beach it started pouring down rain. We got stuck in traffic as we drove through San Miguel which added an extra 45 minutes to our trip. The front window of the microbus starting fogging up so Sandra had to keep wiping it off with newspaper for the driver. But we all made it back safe and sound. I walked in the front door at 7pm. I attempted to stay awake for a while to get things done by eventually fell fast asleep at 11pm.

Walking back to the restaurant

All beached-out

Back on the bus

It's pouring down rain!

The little shell creation from the boy

Mouse shell gifts from one of the teachers