Vandy Spring Breakers Stay Busy in Guatemala

From catching aquarium fish barehanded to bartering in a local market, the third day of our Guatemalan adventure was filled with exciting new experiences.  The gang (not Tuktuks, Tyler) got off to somewhat of a sluggish start to the day as a couple people fell to Montezuma's revenge and the rest of us battled fatigue from hard work and play in the local village.  Upon arrival, David and Drew took a preemptive break at the neighborhood tienda while everyone else began work.

Once well rested, they caught up with the rest of the team to give a presentation to the local school PTA.  After playing with kids as we waited for our turn, Tyler, Alex, Ali, and Amanda outlined the logistics and long-term sustainable benefits of the community trash initiative.  Their Spanish was impeccable and the crowd was impressed by both their eloquence and their height.  David's photo slide show and smooth transitions, were equally impressive (Watch the presentation at the end of this post!).

 For the remainder of the morning, the gang taught third and sixth grade English classes before heading back to the hostel for lunch. Following lunch, Hudson, Amanda, Streeter, and Lia went to Pana (a nearby town situated on the lake, popular to backpackers and tourists) to meet with Mayan Traditions to pick out items to be sold in the Vanderbilt Bookstore in a fair trade initiative.  (Though Drew was eager to help, the girls decided that due to his lack of fashion sense it would be better if he sat this one out.)  At the hostel, the rest of the gang came to the realization that it was our last day before the other Manna group arrived and lamented that the week was moving too fast.  We then headed down to Pana in the back of a pick up truck and enjoyed the breathtaking views, fresh air, and John's heroic photo-shoot.   

David, Drew, Kat, Leigh, and Allie walked through the streets for an afternoon filled with shopping. The men and women reversed roles as David and Drew ravaged the shopping, buying belts, shirts, and baby shoes as the girls walked along and assisted with fashion advice.  With Waites doing the talking and Drew providing the silent but strong intimidation, the pair made quite a formidable bartering duo and made bargain after bargain.  Following the extensive shopping spree, the group reunited and relaxed at a local restaurant to discuss the cultural differences of poverty, the difficulties of community development, and the complications of defining happiness.  Afterwards, a friend of Hudson and Kat's offered to give us salsa-dancing lessons.  Despite extreme whiteness and stiff hips, the guys managed to keep up and the girls managed to remain patient.  Drew was voted Most Improved Dancer and had many convinced that he was actually of Latin descent.

After working up quite an appetite, the gang headed to a local steakhouse to have our first Guatemalan restaurant experience.  It turned out to be quite interesting.  Following our meal of burritos, pizza, and chicken cordon bleu (where was that for the scavenger hunt?) another group of students from the University of Vermont gathered around a fish tank where one girl was preparing to catch a large fish from the aquarium with her hands.  Our interest was obviously piqued but as we watched her melodramatic attempt, we decided that it was time to show Vermont how we do it down South.  Two minutes later, Streeter was standing victoriously over the tank with fish in hand, smiling proudly at the crowd as the restaurant waiters laughed at our antics. 

Tired from the day's activities, the whole group packed into another truck and began the ascent back to our hostel, loudly singing in merriment.  However, during the second verse of Justin Bieber's hit "Baby," our truck rolled to a stop.  Apparently the ancient truck couldn't quite handle the incline and we had to get out and push until it could get started again.  Despite the inconvenience, the A-Team spirits couldn't be dampened and soon were playing Guatemalan card games on the hostel balcony.  Tomorrow, the two Manna groups will be united and the outcome is sure to be epic.  Whether or not Guatemala is prepared for such a combination remains unknown.

Check out our trashcan project via David's awesome presentation: