Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Second day at Baja

The second day in Baja seemed to go faster than the first one. At least for me.
It seems that a clear theme has emerged for this trip: "let's go with the flow"
After the surf lesson on the ground we had plenty of time to chill down until it was time for lunch. We are still adjusting to the rhythm of the place and learning effective ways to live together and take care of this beautiful site. Water and energy are the main issues. Obviously there it no running water and electricity is provided by batteries that are charged from solar panels. The crew brought plenty of big water bottles that's good for drinking. And the sink have several water tanks to use for washing dishes and showering. That's why it is very important to conserve both water and electricity.
After lunch we took the vans and drove about 20-30 minutes to a close by town to meet some children. Karen, the main organizer of this trip, had a couple of connection with orphanages in the area. But communication with them have been somehow difficult. So we ended up in one of the orphanages just to find out that we were supposed to be there on Wednesday. One our way there an old lady waved at us very vigorously, something that we took as a sign of kindness from one of them locals. But in fact she ended up being our connection to our other destination. We followed her for a couple of miles to the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood. There we met a group of children, and a few adults, at local church (or temple). We were not very clear on what was suppose to happen or what to do there but we went with the flow. I started out with some circle games and songs for us to mingle with the local children. After then they got divided into age groups and they went to their respective lessons. I learned from of of the kids that these were bible lessons and they met one a week, usually on Mondays but this week they changed it to Tuesday to meet us. Out 8th graders helped around in anyway they could: holding signs for the teachers, serving milk to the children, distributing presents, etc. The afternoon ending up wit the olders kids from the church, some teacher and the boys from CLWS playing soccer.
On our way back to or site Mike, one of the drivers, bought ice-cream for all of us! What a treat!
Back at camp we discover that the tide was a little high and conditions were not the bes for surfing. But still there was a group of children (and Jeanie and I) who have not been to the water yet.
I must confess that after just doing the challenging surf training on the ground I was pretty discouraged to try them out on the sea. I could barely do them on the ground! Surfing is a combination of many skills but balance and power (strength + speed) are two of the most important ones. I was able to start having a sense of balance with the exercises on the ground. Quiet poor balance but some sense of it nontheless. When it came to strength the whole force of my 34 years, my 230 lbs and lack of exercise combined showed me that I was up for a hard task. I persisted in trying the exercises on the ground but in my mind I had already decided that on this trip I was going to enjoy surfing from the expectator role. But when we came back from playing with the children at the church I had a little more energy and a different mindset. I always get re-charged with I work or play with children. (That's why I love being a teacher!) So I decided to join the group of students that wanted to go in the water. I put on my wet suit and took a couple of pictures for this rare occasion. I was glad that Jeanie decided to join us, too.
Roger, the main surf instructor, told me to get a surf board. He told me to try that out because since I am very tall I could still use that as a boogie board. A couple of the students had surf boards also but the majority of them just had boogie boards. We were guided Santiago, a very skillful (and young!) surfer who is the son of the other surf instructor. It was a tremendous challenge for me just to stay on the board! Not to mention that I had to paddle, follow the group, wait for the right wave, turn, paddle more, etc.! I was abl to (almost) catch a couple of wave but I definitely manage to have fun in spite of all my struggles. I also experienced the power o the ocean! What a force! I love to be in water (in MN that means my bathtub or the pool at YWCA) but dealing with the ocean is not an easy task. Both physically and mentally. At least for me. I took a short break to change the surf board for a boogie and I went back in to enjoy the ocean once again for a few more minutes. I was little less nervous and just a little more confident so I was able to enjoy it a little more. I am sure that I was quite a funny (or pathetic?) and I served as entertainment for those on the shore. When we were coming out I was quite amused at the fact that a couple of students and I were stuck on the rocky shore. Unable to get up and pushed against that rock by a pretty strong set of waves.

A great dinner (lasagna!) and bonfire followed our afternoon ocean adventure. But those were pretty special, too. (Well, what isn't special when you are on a trip with an amazing group of kids, a skillfull and well prepared crew on a beautiful site by the Pacific ocean) I'll try to describe and honor those moments later.

Now it's time to get some rest. I can feel the force of the ocean down to my bones! I am tired but happy and we still have one whole week ahead!

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