We set the alarm for 7 a.m. so that we could say goodbye to the girls before they went to school. Yasmin came in several minutes after the alarm and told us to "llevantase," or get up. It turned out that she and Yoselin wanted us to walk them to school. We got up and dressed quickly. On the way we stopped to say good morning to their Abuelo (grandpa) at his juice stand. As we approached the school the girls were a bit embarrassed and awkward. Yasmin gave us hugs and we tried to keep from embarrassing them in front of their peers. We laughed thinking how different it was from when Yoselin proudly showed us off to her kindergarten in years past.
We stopped in at Abuelo's juice stand on our way back to the house. He prepared us two large glasses of fresh orange juice or 10 quetzales. We chatted with him for a while and then walked back to the house. Humberto then brought Paola to school. We took showers and then had cereal for breakfast. It was report card day and Humberto returned to the house with Paola, Yoselin, and Yasmin's report cards. Vanesa continued painting her wood carving.
Today was Monday and we hoped to do some investigation into possible schools for Aracely to attend once she's old enough to start kindergarten in the fall. We had previously done some research on Atitlan Multicultural Academy (AMA). We talked to the founder, J.T. Way, on the telephone. We knew that we wouldn't be able to visit AMA's facilities on this visit, because they were in the process of moving into a new facility over the summer. I looked at their web site on Humberto's computer and it said that their new location would be in the Hotel Los Angeles. Humberto said that was nearby and we could take a walk over to see the building.
We got ready and Mukul, Craig, Humberto, Paulina, Eddy, Aracely, and I walked down Rancho Grande and then turned right on to Chini Maya. There was nobody here from AMA (J.T. was presently in Antigua) but we were able to take a look at the hotel and try to imagine how it could be adapted into a school campus. It had a nice view of the volcanoes and the lake. We went up to the rooftop terrace and it was very nice.
We walked down to the river which flows into the lake, and saw where the recent floods had washed out the bridge. There was a temporary bridge in place in the meanwhile as people cleaned up the rocky washed out flood plain. Humberto pointed out that one ex-pat's entire shipping container full of possessions wound up in the river.
We continued a little further down a dirt road to the Robert Muller LIFE School. We met Leila the secretary and George the director. We got to look into the kindergarten classroom, library, and computer lab. It was definitely a different experience seeing a place that was all set up vs using our imagination at Hotel Los Angeles. Aracely seemed to be inspired by the materials and the space, and she wandered around with interest.She sat at a computer and her feet didn't touch the ground from the chair. She seemed like she was turning into a big girl - ready to head off to school. We got a lot of information about the school from George. The little rural schoolhouse feel of it really made me miss teaching. I started to daydream about coming down to Panajachel and teaching local kids...oh, that's right, we're here about Aracely. I got carried away.
Then we walked along the lakefront and went into the Porto del Lago Hotel so that Humberto could speak to a colleague named Nicolas. We met Nicolas at the tourist desk at the hotel, and we went outside to see the pool area. As we were getting ready to go Eddy got comfortable in a chair and didn't want to leave. He crossed his arms and bent his knees and glared up at us. That is so against his nature that it was very comical, and we took a photo. We walked back to the house and I sang Rock a Bye Baby to Eddy to try to quiet him along the way.
Paulina's sister Estela met us in Humberto's office; she had come over to help Paulina prepare lunch. I looked up J.T. Way's phone number and gave him a call to talk about the possibility of sending Aracely to kindergarten at AMA. He was very helpful and we had a nice conversation. At about this time, the kids' cousins Laisa, Yesmy, and Loren (Estela's children) appeared. They all remembered us from previous visits and greeted us with big smiles. We found out a little later on that today was actually Laisa's birthday. Yoselin, Yasmin, and POaola arrived home from school. Vanesa was dressed in her school uniform and would be going to school in a little while.
Soon Paulina's other sister Olga showed up with her children Pamela, toddler Isidro (previously known by the nickname Angel), and infant Allison Margarita. Paola immediately took to little Allison Margarita, and helped to feed her and played with her throughout the course of the visit. Isidro wasn't as terrified of us as he had been when we last saw him at Eddy's christening, and he even used hand gestures to communicate with me.
The girls played ball in the alleyway. Humberto brought the dining table and chairs outside, and also set up some resin tables and chairs for the kids. The women grilled chicken over charcoal. Paulina's father arrived, and he and Mukul sat together and chatted. The girls took turns using the old camera. Humberto's mother (Abuelita) came over. It was nice to get so many people from both sides of teh family together for a nice meal/
The women had made Mukul a very nice salad with homemade dressing. The rest of us ate grilled chicken, rice, and fresh guacamole. It started to sprinkle rain while we were eating. I held Baby Allison Margarita and she was very mellow. After eating, we all went inside. Only then did it start to pour.
We played in the girls' room with all of the girls and Eddy. They would jump on the bed and then try to freeze. We had a lot of laughs. Aracely's tooth still hurt but was less swollen today. Eddy walked around wearing my gigantic flip flops. Cousin Junior came over and the kids played Jenga at the dining room table. Then they built with the blocks and used them as dominoes.
The guests all headed home, and we congregated at the dining table and enjoyed bread and tea. Aracely wanted me to draw a Winnie the Pooh in her notebook. I copied one from their blanket. "Winnie Pooh!"she squealed. Eddy played with the trucks we had brought him. Mukul drew pictures for the girls in their notebooks.
For dinner we had pupusas - toasted tortillas with cabbage and cheese with a dollop of salsa. Humberto and the family presented Mukul with a copy of the Popol Vuh (the Mayan "bible"). Rocio and Juana came over and presented us and Mukul with some woven placemats and coasters from San Antonio Palopo. The family said some very sweet things to us in Spanish. We talked about the schools that we had visited today and Vanesa and Paola read some of the paperwork that we had brought home from the LIFE School. Humberto and Paulina announced that they had decided on AMA for Aracely, for a variety of reasons. Though the LIFE School was lovely, it didn't go all the way to high school. It also prepares kids for higher education within Guatemala, but not necessarily international collegiate level. AMA has students who go on to college in the U.S., and it would be nice to have that opportunity for Aracely in the future, should she want to pursue it.
We said our goodbyes to Juana and Rocio, and they headed home. We said our goodnights and goodbyes to the kids. We would be leaving very early in the morning, and probably wouldn't even get to see them. Saying goodbye is always difficult, especially since it would probably be a year before we were able to return. We enjoy our time there so much, and the kids are growing up way too fast. We went to bed at around 10:30.