Update from Neil Hamilton

We left the hotel a little after 8AM this morning for another enjoyable ride to the village which involved tactical planning for the day and digital mad libs. Upon arrival we were greeted with the welcoming ceremony we were expecting yesterday. Numerous members of the village with big smiles, greetings, then a multi-guitar-backed welcoming song. From there, up to the community center where Bill gave probably the most powerful devotional I have ever witnessed. Upon completion I truly believe everyone in the room, team members and villagers alike were in complete awe. Everyone was like WOW.

After that we hit the trail and headed into the fields. The trail was rather technical with lots of ups and downs and quite steep in places. Today we were helping prepare a jalapeño pepper field for planting. We cut holes through plastic in lined rows where the pepper seeds/starter plants (one or the other I assume, I forgot to ask) will be planted at a later date. The field was amazing. Terraced rows on a very steep slope surrounded by some sort of tall plant that was planted specifically to act as a wind break. The plot was like a little garden oasis with breath taking views in every direction. The San Jose residents that accompanied us were awesome in assisting with our assigned tasks to ensure we were doing the work correctly. After we had finished our time in the field it was back up the steep hill to go back down the steep hill back to the village for lunch. We ate lunch at the house of Modesto and his wonderful family. We were introduced to Modesto’s wife, new born baby, young son and teenage daughter. They were the most gracious of hosts. The meal was tasty and hit the spot. Seasoned chicken, red beans and rice, mashed potatoes with some kind of cheese (sounds weird, but tasted great) and fried plantains. After lunch Modesto told us his history and how he came to be in the village of San Jose. It was quite interesting and so nice of him to share this with us. After lunch we headed back to the community center for an afternoon of cultural exchange. On today’s agenda we were making shaker maracas out of paper plates folded in half and stapled together with beads inside to be used in a belated New Year’s celebration. For this project we brought paper plates, beads, pen markers, staples/staplers and stickers. We gave a short demonstration of what we were doing and then let the kids go nuts. They loved it. Each child was given a plate to do their artwork and then the plates were folded in half, filled with beads and stapled together. Wa La! Instant New Year’s shaker maraca! Once each child had made a maraca shaker or two it was time for the celebration — which also involved those party horn blower things that you blow into and they make noise and the rolled up paper part unrolls (I’m sure they have a name, but I don’t know what it might be….). We counted down from ten in Espanol (Spanish) loudly then yelled Feliz Ano Nuevo!! It was amazing. The whole room went crazy. Kids, parents and team members alike. In other words it was “a hoot”. I don’t think anyone on the team wanted to leave, but it was time to call it a day and head back to the hotel. An incredible day in the village to say the least.

Neil Hamilton

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