We decided that it was time to take this family classroom on the road. We picked up the kids from school on Friday and headed out to a small colonial town called Valladolid, a charming, quiet, tranquilo little town. Our hotel was right in el centro, overlooking the town square and main cathedral. We went up on the rooftop to watch the stars and to see the beautiful church lit up at night. At the crack of dawn, we had breakfast, and headed to nearby Chichen Itza. Many of our friends have warned us that this is an overly touristy Mayan ruin – some have suggested to skip this so-called wonder of the world in lieu of the less discovered archeological sites of the Yucatan like Uxmal and Ek Balam. I’m glad we didn’t. We arrived early, beating most of the tourist buses and vendors. We had a private guide, a Mayan man whose family has lived in the pueblo surrounding this highly significant civilization for centuries. We learned about Mayan calendars, astronomy, civilization movement, sports, religion and culture.
I leave you with a very famous photo – one you have seen many times in your world history and civilization textbooks.
And this one is just the beginning in our family classroom.
In other news:
Kids – good, check (well, Jacqueline threw up an entire orange and lemon ice cream cone in her carseat on the way home from Chichen and Rachel came home from school with a fever and chills today, but no pasa nada). Adjustment is going very well. More friends, more understanding, easier drop offs at school. No less homework though – man is it time consuming to help them as we are essentially learning alongside (ok thank you God, that was a good one on your part).
Language – good, check. Kids are starting to speak to Yesenia in a little bit of Spanish. They are also responding with ease to strangers when they are asked their name, age, school, etc. I feel like I am speaking a lot more easily now and feel good about where things are at. Still working hard at this, both of us. Our Spanish instructor is good but she is starting to crack the whip on us. Our homework is also ramping up. I practice constantly with Yesenia and she is a gem at teaching me and correcting my grammar. I am gradually reducing the number of idiotic things that come out of my mouth.
Culture and Religion – good, check. The road trip to Chichen Itza, Valladolid , an ancient convent in Izamal (visited by the Pope in 93), a cenote, and several very small pueblos this weekend proved to be a great learning adventure. Also learning more about the Catholic church and its traditions. The Mayan culture and religious beliefs are more known to us now. I got to teach the kids about limestone geology, caverns and marine sedimentary environments while floating and looking up at a 75 foot cenote wall (closet geoscientist, always). While driving, Kary taught the kids about how plastic bottles are made (oil and gas engineering) and how they can hurt the environment , landfill issues, etc. They actually listened and maybe they learned something. Jacqueline looked at my Mayan book in the car, and then proceeded to recognize one of the temples. She is singing in some language other than English and it sounds a little like Spanish (let it go). Rachel is trying to understand why the Mayans and the Catholics seem to worship idols (ok that is a big conversation and somewhat complicated). They are witnessing thousands of years of civilization right in front of their eyes. What school in Calgary would do this right now?
House and Home– good, check. We are grateful that we can afford Yesenia and that it helps her family in the pueblo. She is like family to us now. She came to church with us on Sunday for the first time. She is going home with some clothing donations and she is grateful and looking forward to taking them to her family and neighbors.
Ministry partners – good, check. Had long meeting with Gary and Joanne this week and feel much more connected now, a little more organized. Much planning for our two events. Good debrief from August trips. Positive movement with partners. Learning more about their focuses and needs.
Fundraising efforts – good, check, but lots ahead to prepare for Fiesta Zapatos (me), SalsaFest (Joanne). Hope you can come to one or both and bring friends and family. I am so grateful for John Fluevog personally, and of his staff and Calgary store. This whole connection via shoes is quite the miracle in action. I made connections this weekend with a small shoe workshop in Valladolid, could be another potential avenue in the future. Fluevog is thinking about sending down a short term Aid team in 2015. This would be huge for us.
Trip home plans – good , check. Flight booked Nov 3-12 and working on setting my plans for fund development and personal visits, also with RPC and our small group. If anyone has connections that I could meet with please get in touch. We really need help to connect with potential donors.
Local church home – good, in progress . Liked the Presbyterian church we went to last week. We went to church at C-Quest in Progreso with one of our pastors (Pastor Miguel) and about 70 people from his congregation. Was a great experience for all of these families and they had a mini-retreat right at our base. I can’t believe what happens when you say ‘potluck’ here. No one runs to the grocery store for the pre-fab veggie tray. We’re talking full-on roasted pulled-chicken, homemade tacos, fish empanadas and dulces. Delicioso. These families have very little in terms of money and yet they have so much to give. Makes you think.