Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Ahh I have been dreading this post for quite some time now.. the FOURTEEN DAY catch up for all of you. But I shall hunker down, skip over some unimportant facts, and let everyone in on what I´ve been doing for most of the month of October. Today, I really experienced the South American culture. AKA, I didn´t have to go to my afternoon classes because there was a soccer game on tv! There are two major events that I will update you on, for the rest is mundane, daytoday bull :) Last weekend (the 3rd-5th) I went on a spiritual retreat with my school. They´re set up for bonding experiences, to make the class tighter and more friendlier as a whole. It was definitely quite an experience for me. First off, I have to mention that it is DIFFICULT to stay awake when overtired and trying to understand another language. We spent a lot of time in a chapel, discussings things, or having something preached and I could barely even keep my eyes forced open. The pastors, or the youth group that was hosting the retreat were all really young; the oldest had to be no older than 24. And yet, they were all PASSIONATELY into their religion and preaching what they believed. Saturday night was the intense, peak of the weekend. Everyone croweded into the chapel, where it was lit with candles and a couple people playing guitar and singing some chill youth groupy songs. They started everyone praying (at least the most part, since a few of us were more observing). The guy up front was talking about accepting Jesus etc.. as well as the music playing, and the soft undertones of everyone mumbling their prayers to themselves. Then another pastor (I really don´t know what word to use) got up and was talking even louder over all the noise, talking about the Holy Spirit, letting it in etc and... speaking in tongues. It was all very stressful, even for a spectator, so I can´t imagine someone actually standing there, eyes closed, fully body mind and spirit into it. Then the youth crew started coming around, praying for people one by one, where the student would then "pass out from spiritual exhaustion" and they would be... passed out of sorts for a few minutes. There was a lot of crying among other emotions, and the whole situation was quite overwhelming. Even Maija and I, who were clearly not getting involved, were prayed for that night. The next morning, Sunday was a full day of church singing, and a little more speaking in tongues and passing out thrown in there. We ended the day with a bunch of hugs, which I loved. The whole weekend was a VERY interesting experience, and I was really glad that I got to be there, with all of my classmates.. Even if I wasn´t spiritually involved, I still got to bond with kids that I go to school with. Stuff happened during the week, which I can´t fully remember, and then it was the weekend again, and time for a Rotary trip to the town of Concepción for an orchid festival. All of the exchange students from Santa Cruz, as well as Ethan from Sucre (told you I´d give you a shout out) hopped on a bus, for a five hour ride through traffic hell in 40º+ weather. We stopped at a lagoon to go swimming, and saw some buffalo on the way there. Stopped for lunch in a little pueblo called San Xavier, where we checked out an AMAZING church, one of seven I think, and part of a Jesuit Mission circuit you can go on to check out all the churches. We were then back on the road to Concepción. It´s a quiet, dusty little town that we rolled into just in time for dinner. Saturday was quite the day. We drove for quite some time to a TINY little village in the middle of nowhere for lunch, and some traditional music and dance. We saw a couple orchids wrapped around rocks on the tables! We started to hike down the road, where we saw a few more tables full of purple orchids. Then it was time to see the orchids in their natural habitat... it was a hike in the straight on heat and sun for almost 2 hours. I was dying , and by the time we got to the bus I realized that no hat and lack of copious amounts of water hadn´t been a good idea. I could tell that my body was not going to enjoy more walking, so I camped out in the bus while some of the rest of the group hiked the remaining 20 mins or so to the orchids. Afterwards, everyone being as dirty as humanly possible, we hoped to go back to the hotel to rinse the 3" of sweat and dust from our pores, but instead we stoped in another small pueblo, for some traditional food, drinks and dancing. When we finally got back to the hotel and showered, we were then off to check out the rest of the festival in Concepción, with the booths they had set up in the town plaza. It was a pretty quiet night. Sunday was an early start to the day, to hit up the church, museums etc of the town. We didn´t too much, as we had a 5+ hour bus ride back home, at the hottest point in the day (with at least 40º weather). Getting home was actually a relief, a comfy bed, familar settings etc.. and the family was pretty stoked to see me come home. I have to let you know that I don´t think the blogs will be coming as frequently, since I´ve been on the computer less and less.. But I will try and keep you updated as often as possible (I´ll try for once a week, since this blog was pretty painful). Keep in touch!