We woke up and showered. My shower was a mixture of waves of hot and cold water. We went to breakfast where we had eggs with peppers in it and bread and piña colada juice.
We got in the bus dressed in our Sunday best for church. When we arrived at San Rafael parish in Tocogan we stood outside and shook hands with the wedding party. We greeted each other the entire way. When we walked into the church, the majority of us had to duck under the banner. Then we were told to sit in the very front row, on the right side of the church.
The music they had playing was accompanied by a band; guitarist, drummer, keyboardist, a lead singer and two back ups. The lady singing put a lot of feeling into the words. It was the expressions of her face and the sounds of her voice that gave it away.
When the wedding family entered they sat in a row of chairs further in front than where we were seated, but in the center of the podium. The men had blue ponchos, white pants and sandals. The women had their hair wrapped in black cloth and were wearing dark blue dresses.
The pastor told his congregation about us, Blanca and the project. He had Rene come up to translate from Spanish to English. He looked terrified. After both speeches, we all went up and were introduced separately. Janel came up and gave her message to the wedding party.
A live chicken was given to the wedding couple. We went up to sing our song in front of everyone. It was just our voices and clapping. We tried to get them to repeat the line back to us, but we did the lines twice. After, we gave the couple our gift to them. The couple knelt on the floor covered in flower petals, signed the wedding license and were told to hug. It was at this point where we left. Many people waved as we left. Outside a car was covered in a ribbon.
We went to Sebastian’s house to see his projects. From his own house we could see his projects. He had been building huts made from reeds and seed bags. They were similar to the huts that his ancestors lived in. He had them rented out already and his plan is to expand them into other villages. It is a bed and breakfast and they give adventure tours as well.
Then went back to the hotel for lunch. They served rice with ceviche (with shrimp) soup and plantain chips. And Oka cake for dessert. I am told you can put the rice in the soup, or put the soup on the rice, there are no rules. So I scooped up some rice and put some of the ceviche on my fork and ate it like that. I enjoyed the cold soup. The oka reminded me of some kind of bread my mom used to make, but I am not exactly sure which; maybe warm banana bread, or chocolate zucchini bread.
We had about a half an hour to rest before we were going to Peguche Cascade. It was a short drive to the falls. Amber wore her raincoat. I should have put on my poncho. We walked up the hill, people were selling spray everywhere. People were selling food that smelled delicious too. We started walking toward the falls, people were spraying people, and getting them with ink and water. I got sprayed in the ear. We sprayed people who sprayed us, it was all in good fun. The rock walkway to the falls was slippery and the group was held up. Up ahead people were asking a local about what was going on ahead of us.
He suggested that we take a different route and he showed us the way. We stopped at the fertility tree. He told us that couples come to the fertility tree if they are having a difficult time conceiving. They pray under the tree and write their names in it. But he told us that he has six children and that he comes to the tree to pray for the strength to be a good father. As we walked by I touched the tree.
The guide helped Muriel up the path. There were very steep steps, I was walking behind Ken who seemed to be having a difficult time. We stopped part way up, Amber asked why we stopped because she needed the momentum to make the stairs. I told her I was being respectful. At one point during the climb I stuck out my hands because I was afraid that he would fall backward. He started up again. I watched his feet. When we got the view point I watched him place his foot on a spot where an old board was missing and then take the rest to the top. I asked him if he was doing okay, giving him a thumbs up thumbs down motion. I can’t say I wasn’t worried. After about a minute or two he said, “It isn’t that I am out of shape, it is the altitude.”
When Muriel made it to the view point, we all cheered. We took group photos, I didn’t enjoy being crowded. Marcy accidentally dropped Muriel’s camera. The lenses popped off, Mary Kathryn tried to put it back together, but she wasn’t successful. Muriel told her not to worry. I got down from the platform and watched Ken come down those stairs. I made motions of asking if he needed a hand down that last sketchy step. He put his hand on my shoulder and I put my other hand on his waist. Rene, Ken and I took pictures in another area. The guide took the pictures. When people where leaving the viewing area I ran back over there to give Muriel a hand even though she had a hand on the other side. Ken helped everyone up a gigantic step on the path and we continued on down the hill. I got sprayed in the ear and Amber got inked in the face. She laughed because she was part of the community. When we got back to the bus we went to Marilyn’s house.
The bus stopped outside her house and, as someone was about to exit the bus, a car zoomed by. She thanked them for not running her over. So as we exited we made sure to check for traffic. When we went in, we were greeted by Isabel. The house was amazing. There was what I can only describe as a terrarium outside as the house wrapped around it. It was beautiful to view from the dining room. We all moved ourselves around the table for cornbread and coffee. Marilyn’s husband Glenn came out to join us. As a group we chatted about the day, my book, and Glenn changing his mind from tea to chocolate. We enjoyed Glenn’s company and I am sure he enjoyed ours. I was given a second piece of cornbread and ate it too. I had a great time, I also shared pictures of us sleeping at the airport in Bismarck with everyone.
We came back to the hotel for dinner. It was hominy covered in cheese or what reminded me of street corn spices, potato soup and peaches. Karla got her suitcase today! I crashed early that night, as did Muriel. They exhausted us and we were out by 9pm.
Lori: Enjoys the church service and the Evangelical wedding was unusual, with the children running in and out and getting up front during the ceremony.
Luis: Did his good deed getting Karla’s suitcase.
Blanca: She enjoys seeing us play like children with the spray. And she is thankful that we shared more than just work.
Jan: Was surprised that they gave chickens as gifts during the wedding.
Marcy: Is always moved by music, especially in the church service.
Ken: Has great faith for the bus driver, getting around small corners and getting us where we need to go.
Meghan: Was impressed when it was suggested we go a different route to the falls. One that was less crowded and slippery.
Curtis: What stuck in his mind was the girl singing in church and doing part of the worship.
Rene: Many things are similar to Puerto Rico, and he was impressed that the community could share this holiday like a game and no one got angry.
Karla: Was impressed by praise service in church and Sebastian’s project.
Muriel: Was impressed with the wedding and how the church service was full.
Lindy: She was impressed by the flower girl who went through her grandfather’s bible and also that the groom had a Bible.
Amber: Noticed small details like women aren’t afraid to breastfeed in public, and how getting sprayed made her feel like part of the community.
Janel: She felt like we were intruding on the weding and church service and hopes there was no offense. She was also impressed by Sebastian’s eco-friendly buildings.