On Tuesday, we learned more about the feeding program that Mission Guatemala sponsors to provide nutritious lunches for students in local schools. We had the opportunity to observe firsthand how the program operates in two of the schools: Nueva Esperanza and Panimatcalam. We went with the Mission Guatemala staff to the market where they buy all of the food that goes into the meals, then went to the schools where local mothers were at work preparing the food. After observing the feeding program, we were greeted by the kids at the school. They ran up and greeted us, immediately grabbing our hands and pulling us to the playground. We played soccer and “Pato, Pato, Ganso” (or duck, duck, goose). At Panimatcalam, the mothers showed us how to make the tortillas that would later be fed to the kids. They were so grateful to Mission Guatemala for providing them with this program that the kids love so much.
On Tuesday afternoon, we went into downtown Panajachel. We took the obligatory group photo overlooking Lake Atitlán with volcanoes in the background. Then our group split up to explore the city’s shops, museum, and gorgeous views. The shops resembled the markets we had seen on Monday. However, it was not as big and the people were not as pushy with selling items. The shops were bright and colorful. There were permanent selling stations with garage door style doors that closed off the shops in the evening. While some people walked through the streets of Panajachel, others went to the museum. The museum was two separate displays. One was set up traditionally with many artifacts behind glass with descriptive plaques and a topographical map of the Lake Atitlán area. The Mayan artifacts were found in Lake Atitlán at the site of an ancient Mayan city, which is now under water. The second portion of the museum was in a basement and was set up to feel like you were at the underwater site complete with an image of a scuba diver on the ceiling and other underwater images of the original site.
Wednesday night we went to Jose Pingüinos for a cultural dinner. The owner, Miguel, told us stories about Mayan history and culture, explaining their traditional instruments and dress. He had his daughter demonstrate how she put on her headdress, and we sat in awe as she wrapped a twenty meter long belt around her head in less than two minutes. Students and faculty got to practice making tortillas and playing different instruments throughout the evening. We were served a traditional wedding dish for dinner with chicken, rice, and vegetables. Most people tried the traditional drink of horchata, which was a sweet, rice milk drink. After the cultural dinner experience, we all loaded into Tuk Tuks for an adventurous ride back to the River House. We experienced a very fast and rough ride on the way back, including Tuk Tuk races and “flying” over speed bumps.
Written by: Kaytlin Eastes, Linda Hocking-Schweickart, and Nicolette Juncker