Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Saturday, January 25

Today I woke up early and went for a run along the highway in Salto de Laja. I didn’t used to understand why my mom liked running so much while we were on vacations but now I realize that it’s the best way to really get to know a place. I had a great time exploring until this giant scary black bee started chasing me and I had to run into a fancy restaurant while I was all sweaty and gross just to get away from the stupid bee. Anyway, I got home and took a quick (cold) shower and got ready to leave. We drove a few minutes over to this random spot in the road, and then Maxi, Eric, Tata, and I got out. Apparently this town of Yumbel is also famous for a catholic tradition called la manda.
People believe that if they come to Yumbel every year and walk about 8 kilometers up a hill to the church of San Sebastian, God will grant them good fortune and happiness. There are also more specific mandas—you can literally ask God to do something specific (like cure your mom of cancer) in return for you walking up the hill every year.
There are actually a lot of stories of the wishes coming true. I personally think it’s a little weird to believe in something so specifically give and receive like a business transaction, but I like the walk every year for good faith idea. Anyway I walked for about an hour and a half up the hill with them while Nancy, the 2 grandmothers, Monse, and Laurie followed us in the car. In town, they parked the car and met us and we went into the church. They were in the middle of mass, so we sat down and listened for the last few minutes. After mass, we walked around the town a little while and ate popsicles together. Then we drove over to this camp ground by the side of Rio Claro. We parked by the side of the river and set out a picnic table and lunch. We ate a quick lunch and then Maxi, Monse, Laurie, Eric and I went to wade in the river.
It was only about knee high, so I thought I would be fine in shorts and a tank top. I wasn’t wet at all until the giant splash fight we had. We walked back to the beach and dragged Nancy in too to participate in the soaking. By the time we finished walking around through the river I was absolutely soaked and absolutely sun burnt. We all got out and played escoba (a card game) for a while before Nancy and I decided we were freezing cold. Nancy put on Laurie’s clothes, and I put on Monse’s. We looked really horrible but at least we were warm as we were driving home. We got back to the cabana, put on normal clothes, and walked down to the waterfall.
This time we walked all the way down to stand right in front of it and take pictures where the ground is slippery with mud and the mist from the waterfall drenches you if you stand there too long.
On the way back, we walked past all the artisan shops and admired the knick knacks. When we got home, Nancy barbecued while we all played cards together for a while and hung out and talked and had a really great time. We stayed up late talking and drinking mate again.

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