The following days at this world centre were absolutely filled with structure. Even though I wanted to write my blog and record everything, at the same time I didn’t want to miss a thing!
Days began with a bell being rung at 7:00, although I was alway up before it, the first morning I checked the time, 6:25. I groggily snatched my housecoat and flip flops and with camera in hand marched to the back of the property near the campfire ring with benches and climbed up. Looking towards the brightening horizon, I vaguely saw my goal; Popcatapetl, the smoking volcano. In 1997 it was fully visible from this location, 10 years ago was still visible and both those times I climbed up onto the 3 foot high mortared volcanic stone wall and shuffled sideways along it to get a perfect view. This wall was the boundary for a bamboo patch, but I was about 25 pounds lighter then, That’s why I opted for the two tiered circular bench surrounding the campfire pit. On this day I was having a hard time finding Popo, but there it was, half obscured by palm trees and the left side was no longer visible. As part of the Our Cabana challenge, you have to leave the property and walk to the right until you see Popo in full glory. Popo is only visible in the morning most days and the best time for viewing is between 6:30 – 7:00 a.m. After that the sun rising seems to illuminate the haze and it becomes lost to view. There is a lovely legend about this smoking volcano and you can find it here.
Each dorm has a different name of a flower and these groups work together in patrols accomplishing kapers – duties including setting tables before meals, choosing songs and readings for colours, graces for meals and reporting on the days events for social media, aka Facebook. As they say, many hands makes work light and so it was.
After the wake up bell is rung there is a type of ordered frenzy to get ready, with only two showers per dorm of 8 or 10 if there are additional people assigned to the beds against the wall, it just all works out. The elevation isn’t as high as Mexico City but none the less it is much higher than most of our homes which are not more than 1,000 feet above sea level. I REALLY feel it and the odd light headed feeling comes and goes. I carried everything with me, camera, dorm keys, Kleenex, water bottle, cell phone as a watch, lip balm (it’s dry here) all the essentials because it is just tiring to keep going back to the dorm because I forgot something!
So we have the bell, get ready, 5 minute warning bell for colours, head to breakfast, 1st session 9:30 or 10:00 depending on the day, lunch at 1:30, 2nd session at 4:00- 6:00 dinner at 6:30 and another session at 8:00 finished for the day at 9:00 ish. In between sessions can be nap time, craft house, swim, or just chat with the participants to discuss issues or just have a good ole chin wag. Fun people!
Sessions included team building, introductions to the various activities for World Thinking Day Celebration, International Festival, Service Project and Campfire. All the activities are designed to have fun while learning. We sure did laugh! The British Guiders performed a unique version of Cinderella that had us all laughing to tears! The various groups from Mexico performed musical selections, singing and dancing. Our group performed the song “My Paddle” along with actions and involved the audience in a round.
You can find some of the on Our Cabana Facebook Page.
The service project involved a round robin entertaining the participants and having the local orphanage children come to play and have fun. Some of those activities were skipping, singing, making s’mores, crafts, ballon animals, making chia pets. The kids were wild and it was interesting to see the attempts at jostling to be first in line and competition at winning. The staff was impressive at keeping order.
I had wanted to go to Tepotzatlan and the staff arranged for a taxi to come and collect me. The 45 minute drive up into the hills was picturesque, the sky was an azure blue and actually clear! I got excited when I saw POPO fairly clearly for a time but the pictures don’t do it justice. We wound our way up and up and my attempt at speaking the language wasn’t very good as he would speak to me in sentences and I had no idea what he was saying. No comprendo.
He dropped me off and I set out walking through the market where families were together and couples hanging on to each other slowly walking along the cobble stone streets. It was so beautiful to see the lack of hurrying along as I was walking a steady clip looking for the Church and monastery.
I had been here 20 years ago and the churchyard was missing a few trees if memory serves me right, but the walls under the remaining trees had families perching on them and I saw an older couple with the husbands head resting in his wife’s lap. There were vendors here and there and the nuns were selling religious paraphernalia. I went into the monastery and viewed the walls then went into the book store. I always wear my Guide uniform if I go out alone and while I was in the bookstore a man said “you are a Scout.” I said I was a Girl Guide, I am from Canada. He said “oh I love Canada, my daughter is living there, in British Colombia.” He explained he had surgery and could not see here this past year but his doctor gave him permission to fly this summer. He is looking forward to see her in Canada.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Tepotzatlan and approached a cab driver who was parked near the traffic police. I showed him the address of Our Cabana and we arrived in about 30 minutes, he took a faster route back.
Later that afternoon there was a pool party with dance music blasting, it was a lot of fun watching the adults play, the kids were gone.
One of the Mexico groups had come by bus, taking 11-12 hrs one way to arrive. They left Our Cabana at 10:00 a.m. Sunday Feb 19 as the girls had school exams the next day. They had lots of time to study on the way home.
Another group flew in from their hometown in Mexico bringing their own camping gear, tents and sleeping bags. It was quite chilly on Saturday evening but the girls giggled despite the cool weather.
Later, after dinner we were summoned to Mixcocalli activity room for a pleasant surprise. The staff were all there with a farewell surprise. They had put together a video of our time there and laughs and tears ensued. It was hard to leave….. but, we had to go to bed on our last full day….