I arrived to the town in full swing of celebrating the patron saint San Diego. This finished and a few days later we began celebrating Purisima which is the conception of Mary and first communion. Again there were dawn masses, bell ringing, and fireworks. This all culminated with a huge celebration on the last night. The fire works were amazing and rather dangerous. These celebration are very important and although we may struggle with them, they bring a comforting rhythm to the life of our community.
We are now about to start the celebration of the birth of Jesus followed by the New year. I don't think they have the equivalent Feb Fast, but I am about ready for an equivalent for church celebrations.
Casa Si A La Vida goes with the flow of the community celebrations as does the schools. There is an unspoken rule that the celebrations of the Catholic Church or the government over rule obligations to attend school or work. That being said, we finished the year really positively. I am really encouraged that the numbers of students in the primary section have remained constant. The secondary school group is a little lower, but we will investigate that further next year. It was also great for me to see a movement in the way the classes were being conducted and the expectations of behaviour in the Casa slowly being adopted by the kids. They are tricky kids to work with as a group, but individually they each have 'something'. The Casa is now closed for two months, however we have regular visitors to our house to play Uno, visit the kittens or make pulseras ( woven bracelets). This is a really important time to work on the individual relationships with the kids as a foundation for the developing a more functional group. The SALV staff have a months annual leave and then back into planning and workshops.
Mart continues to work on developing the farm and we have our second group of chickens being raised. The response to the last group was great with people eager to keep buying. The money from the Christmas cards will go towards continuing this revenue raising activity and to to the purchase of a small herd of cows. He hopes to buy these in the New Year. He also had our first sheep slaughtered and we will sell that meet to raise some funds.
We have had a lovely time with our son and three friends visiting. We spent time at a waterhole, found petroglyphs in the forest and dodged fireworks at the Purisima celebration. They also managed to climb Concepcion, the live and largest of the the two volcanos. I am not sure they have convinced Mart and I to put that on our bucket list.
We enter into a different rhythm here for Christmas. I must say I am not missing trying to find a car park at Westfield! But I do miss friends and the christmas gatherings. We will celebrate here with our son and daughter and enjoy trying to work out how to cook a leg of lamb on a four burner camping stove....I do have some mint, yogurt and lemon to cover any cooking disasters.
Enjoy your Christmas, hug those close to you and embrace those not so close to you. And be gentle on yourself when you are looking back over the year that has been.
With much love Margaret ( and Mart)