Saturday, July 16th was an emotional, festive, and memorable day and the highlight of our time in San Pedro. Again this year we had a celebration party for all the Beca students and their families - we pick up the tab and the Cooperativa teachers plan the menu and do the shopping, cooking, and serving led by Lorenzo's wife, Andréa. Last year there were more than 60 people in attendance and we held the dinner at the Cooperativa school. This year the guest list had grown to more than 120 so we moved the event to a large, wonderful venue just outside of town on the lake.
The families arrived on foot but for time's sake we chose to ride in a colectivo pickup; here's the view from ours and a group of Coop teachers making the scene.
A view of the large palapa (palm roofed) structure from the lake.
Friends chatting and kids cavorting as the group assembled.
Led by 2 of the fathers, the kids prepared a cultural presentation for our viewing and listening pleasure. First up was a cultural song with parts for the girls and the boys separately and together; the girls are wearing their school uniform skirts with their most festive blouses; the boys are wearing the traditional male attire in the village, usually only seen on older men except for special occasions.
Next was a beautiful traditional dance depicting the trading of goods in the market.
That was followed by a detailed and well-rehearsed play showing the traditions of courtship and marriage in San Pedro, complete with grilling the young couple, lots of prayers, exchanges of food, and circuits of apologies at the request of the elders by the couple for causing so much trouble. Because the play was conducted in Tz'utujil, Mynor explained the process to us ahead of time. Occasionally the audience roared with laughter and we laughed along. Apparently the funniest bits were the "groom" answering in less than enthusiastic terms.
The final performance was another traditional dance.
Mynor spoke in Tz'utujil about the conception and history of the Beca Project
and Lorenzo presented me with a beautiful hand painted plaque in recognition of the impact of the Beca Project in San Pedro. It instantly became one of my most prized possessions.
Time for lunch!! The families had been asked to bring their own tortillas and plates or bowls. The Cooperativa staff served rice with chicken and vegetables and a savory pepián sauce.
After lunch, we posed for photos by the lake. Here's Lorenzo, Mynor, Andrea, me, and Mike.
This is the whole group of 22 Beca students with Mike, me, and Mynor in the back - another of my treasures.
As families left we received final thanks and hugs and kisses from nearly every person there; I'm practically counting the days already till I can return and be with these wonderful friends again.
One more scene of the lake - workers with hoes and machetes walking home along the shore.
Back at our little apartment we packed quickly, took one more look at the lake from the balcony,
and said goodbye to the resident toad as we left for the dock and the next part of our 2011 Central America adventure. Happy trails!
We headed first to the highlands of Guatemala where we spent a few nights in Antigua before moving on to Lake Atitlán to enjoy the scenery, renew friendships at the Cooperativa Spanish School, and celebrate with our Beca Project students and their families. Then we flew to the island of Roatán, Honduras for beaches, snorkeling, diving, and flyfishing. HAPPY TRAILS!