Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I´ve got some catching up to do!
I´ll have to start back on last Thursday, September 14th--the day before Independance Day. We went on Probigua´s bibliobus to an area outside of Antigua, approximately 10 kms away from the school. The plan was to run back to Antigua with a lit torch to symbolize Guatemala´s independance. At first I wasn´t sure if I wanted to run or not, because technically, I don´t run. But the excitement of the day got the better of me and I started running with the group. We left from a large school compound called Instituto de Pedro Molina where men and women live and study to become teachers. Probigua has an affiliation with this school as well as many libraries in the area. Probigua´s director, Rigoberto Zamora, is a popular figure at the school. So we were enthusiastically sent off with Rigoberto in the lead with the torch. It was very touching to see the large group of students cheering us on.
The run started on a downhill, which is always a good thing, and I ran and took pictures at the same time. There were buses and trucks full of people waving flags, cheering on the runners, and... throwing water at us. Yes, this wasn´t just a run. It was run and dodge the hundreds of people trying to pelt you with water balloons, bags of water, dishes of water, and hoses.
I got around the first of what I was calling ¨water hazards¨ by being a coward. I got back on the bus and drove through the group of water demons, then got back out to run again. The second group I begged in Spanish--No agua, por favor! and it worked. They must have felt sorry for me or I wasn´t a very interesting target. At one point, someone did peg me, so I finally got into it. The next time I passed a group of kids with water ballons and buckets, I picked up my speed a bit, ran past and stuck out my tongue at them. If I´m going to get hit with water, I want to make it worth everyone´s while. I think the kids got a special kick out of pelting the gringos, especially the gringa dragging her ass up the road. We also got plenty of encouragement. There were families lining the roadside, sitting on blankets, cheering on the runners. Folks waved and yelled and clapped for us. It was a great experience. It was very moving also. I could equate it to how we celebrate our own independance with our own traditions and the events we have that create our national pride. I feel especially privileged to have been included in this crazy and touching national event.

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