12 July 2012

Santa Isabel.

After a brutally cold shower and a casual, delicious breakfast, the staff organized to discuss last-minute logistics before the students arrived. “The Bed Crew” - consisting of Sofia, Matt, Daniel, and myself - expanded to a group of 8 and raced to finish assembling beds for students participating in the “homestay” program, wherein students stay with locals for the duration of the program.

The students arrived and settled their things. Over lunch, we discussed necessary tips (pace yourself, assimilate with the culture, etc…) and turned them loose with only a requirement that the students be back by 7 for dinner (and staff be present for the subsequent staff meeting).

Festivities seemed to die down today, which was unsurprising given that last night’s party seemed to knock out the power for the entire city for most of the day. Daniel and I wandered around the town, spotting graffiti on the walls which referenced hip-hop and rapping. Eventually we came upon a group of people at the summit of one of the hills. They were celebrating la dia de Santa Isabel.

The people at this celebration looked incredible. Cowboy chaps, reverse-face masks, whips, musical instruments, beer, and an intricate dance resembling the symbolic passing of the sun from east to west (and the moon from west to east). All of it was choreographed perfectly, everyone played their part forming a cohesive circle. Later in the town plaza we saw much more: hundreds of people dressed in colorful costumes, playfully brandishing whips and drinking beer.

Here at the plaza, people walked around selling treats to on-lookers. I bought some dough balls which seemed reminiscent of doughnut holes, but these tasted more like they were based on some egg recipe.

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