Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Craziest, Best Weekend Ever.

What do you get when you combine three Peace Corps Volunteers, 22 Salvadoran youth and an overnight excursion to a national park? The best night ever, that's what! But let me back up a moment. Alex Boy and I have been trying to plan this last excursion for months now. It just seemed like it was not fated to work out. But as life sometimes does, all of the pieces fell into place at the last moment.

I had agreed to host a 'work day' in my site with the new group of trainees. But that happened to be the only weekend that Parque Nacional Monticristo had availability to host myself, Alex Boy and our two youth groups. So we booked it figuring it would all work out. I convinced Alex Girl to come out and help us through the events. She came out on Friday afternoon. Saturday we got up and started to get the house ready for the work day. Really there was not too much that needed to be done. Just wait.

My youth group was the first group of people to show up. I threatened them that if they were not on time, 9 am on the dot, they could not go on the over night trip. I was only bluffing, but I did not want to take any chances with anyone deciding to blow off the morning portion of the day. The trainees showed up next with my bosses, Claudia and Iris. This was the first trip that the trainees had made to an actual PCV community and it was also the first time they interacted with Salvadoran youth. Once Alex Boy and his youth group showed up I directed everyone to the soccer field where we all got to know each other with some ice breakers.

Dream Catcher making!
I split everyone up into two groups, each a mix of Salvadorans and Americans, and I let them loose to play a short game of pick up soccer. The game ended and everyone was a winner. Corney to say, but no one kept score. We all headed back to the house where I attempted to teach the significance of and how to make dream catchers. It was kind of a disaster. I was explaining the directions once in Spanish and then again in English. Life gets confusing when attempting to explain anything in two languages.

Just as everyone was finishing up the dream catchers and the snack Claudia brought, I get a phone call saying the Monticristo guys were at the entrance of the community and ready to go. Oy, the one time Salvadorans are on time I am totally not ready. I had not even packed for my self yet. I go up to the entrance and meet them and invite them to lunch. Melida had made a beans and rice dish called casamiento and there was plenty to go around. The trainees left and we ate a quick lunch before heading off to Monticristo.

I had been a little anxious about the trip. Forget the fact that we were taking 25 kids on an overnight trip in the wilderness. Alex Boy and I had not planned anything for us to do with them. We knew there would be a hike, and Alex found someone in the park to cook all of our meals for us, but other than that, we had nothing. As it turned out the park really had their act together. We arrived and immediately had a charla from park staff on the history of Monticristo and why it is important to protect the environment. From there we went through their museum about the park and then on to the 100 Year Garden. It was there we saw the Tree of Love. We had a great dinner and got settled into our cabins. Alex Boy brought speakers and someone found a broom stick and limbo just happened. It was amazing. I am not sure any of us have ever laughed so hard.  

The park staff came back to gather us around at about 8pm. We walked out to the middle of a huge field. Monticristo is a huge forested park in the middle of no where. We could see every star and hear every sound. It was amazing. The guides spoke about the importance of taking care of national treasures like Monticristo. Alex Boy and I spoke a bit about how awesome these experiences had been for us and how we hoped some of them would take something away from these experiences. Then the kids started. Not all of them spoke, but the ones that did had some powerful words to share. They talked about how they would not have had these experiences without us and how they wished were not leaving so soon. It was enough to move some to tears. I won't name names though. Oh and we introduced them to smores. Epic.

Tree of Love, go figure...
As this night was the first away from home with out their families for most of the kids, we gave them a 10:30 curfew. There were two cabins and two tents. Girls were put in the cabins and boys in the tents. Obviously. We were up the next morning by 6 and down to breakfast so we could begin the hike up to Trifinio, where El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala meet. Just after breakfast two of the more delicate kids in my youth group came up to me and said they were feeling too ill to do the hike. I opted to stay with them just to make sure everything was ok. In the end they admitted to faking it, which was disappointing, but as they say down here, asi es. 

By the time we got back to site, everyone was exhausted. It was a crazy weekend but totally worth it. I will miss these kids like crazy when I leave in just under two weeks. I just hope they have taken something away from these new experiences, I know I have.

1 comment:

  1. What is the tree of love? Need more info please.