Friday, August 12, 2011

Monday, August 8th

After breakfast, we lugged all our gear down to the dock, hopped on a boat, and headed to Santa Cruz. We hiked up the steep path to our cute little casas, dumped our stuff off, and set off on a 20 minute trail to Casa del Mundo, where we ate a wonderful lunch with an amazing view of the lake.
The two lower terraces of this hotel/restaurant are under water because the water level of the lake has risen so much in the past couple of years, real evidence of global warming.

We boarded a boat at Casa del Mundo in the crazy afternoon wild waters and crashed our way through the waves on a 45 minute ride to Santiago. I was at the front of the boat, which takes the hardest beating, so for much of the ride I stood and held onto the front bench, with knees bent and absorbing the shocks of the waves. It was a great little workout and a total blast! I think that may have been the funnest boat ride I’ve ever been on! In Santiago we followed a local boy (who we paid) up the steepest roads I’ve ever seen, to the house where Saint Simon is residing this year. This wooden carving of a Mexican man stands about 3 feet tall in the center of a small room of these people’s house that has been dedicated to hosting this saint for an entire year. It is a huge honor to house him, and they pretty much give up their job for the whole year so that they can sit by him as people come to their home to do their little ritual ceremony for him. People come to ask for some particular good fortune to happen in their lives. He is adorned with many neck ties and a couple black felt “cowboy” style hats. The room he is in is filled with an array of gaudy statues, paintings, and other little items. People bring him offerings of cigars, alcohol, and money. It was just plain bizarre! I would have taken a couple pictures, but I would have had to pay for it so I resisted the temptation. We killed an hour in the street of Santiago and then headed back on calmer waters to our hillside hotel in Santa Cruz. Some of us took advantage of happy hour and drank basil mojitos on the canopied deck that sits right on the lake before walking the 10 minute trail to dinner.
Dinner was gourmet 6 course event, prepared by a sweet Austrian woman and served by two adorable local assistants. She would come out as each new course was served and explain in brief detail what was special about it and what it was made with. The only light in the cozy little space that was the inside of this restaurant was the candles on our table. We could see lightning in the far distance across the lake all around the volcanoes. It was the most elegant meal I’ve ever had. On the walk back, I climbed a tree and startled the last few people in our group when they passed by : )
(Karma would get me the next day!) : (

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