Hike to waterfall in Chichel w/ LHI honor students (grades of 75% or higher) –
Once we got out of town, much of the trail was muddy and steep, but had beautiful views. In a fairly steady rainfall, but not a complete downpour, we crossed through several gates, a good size creek, two cows, a horse, a couple more small creeks, and found ourselves in a park with small palapa-style tables next to a beautiful waterfall and river. A man was even cutting the grass when we got there…with a machete! The only other kid-oriented NGO group in the area showed up at the same time too – a fairly big coincidence it turns out. There was even a three-stall dressing area. Several of us teachers and adults in the other group went swimming in the river after the rocks at the waterfall. The kids didn’t swim…people here don’t usually learn to swim because they don’t really have many bodies of water to swim in, so it’s just not something they do.
After a refreshing dip, we hiked a short ways out into the “aldea” called Chichel and got onto a smallish sized old school bus which drove us back to Chajul. The hike took two hours. The bus ride back took about 45 minutes and went on roads that no bus driver in any school district in the US would attempt.
Ixil language lesson – After a scrumptious lunch by Elma at LHI, we had a beginners’ lesson in the Ixil language from Adilma. She recently became a teacher and this was her first teaching experience – talk about intimidating! Anyhow, she did a fantastic job, and has some natural teaching skills, and we are all now completely fluent in Ixil – NOT! The difference between four of their letters is almost indistinguishable, and there are several pairs of letters that are exactly alike except for one has a stronger delivery, more curt and with a bit more force. It is an unbelievably complex sounding language with about eight minutely different ways to say what we would consider to just be “sh” and “ch”. It only started being translated into a written form about 5 years ago, so very few people know how to read Ixil, but they are teaching it in school along with Spanish now.