As we've been blogging about all week, Guatemalan Independence Day is tomorrow. Guatemala has been celebrating all week, and today's celebration was a run called "La Torcha" (the torch). Groups all across the country celebrate liberty by running in groups, led by a person bearing a torch. Churches, schools, civic groups, groups of friends, people of all ages and social classes all participate in torchas. The distance and route are chosen by each individual group. This evening, Casa Shalom ran a torcha from San Lucas to back to the orphanage - a nearly 10-mile run! We decorated the vechiles, laced up tennis shoes, and took off from a central point in San Lucas. The babies even got to participate - they ran for a block and then were loaded in a van to follow the rest of the group - even baby Tony, the youngest child at Casa Shalom, participated! To make a 10-mile run even more interesting, a big part of the torcha tradition is bystanders lining the route, throwing water on the runners. Everyone gets pretty soaked, but being that I was the ONLY non-Guatemalan (and a very obvious non-Guatemalan at that) participating as far as I could tell, I was a prime target for the water-throwers. By the time we arrived, I looked like I'd jumped in a swimming pool, thanks to countless water balloons and buckets of water hurled in "the gringa's" direction! I'm proud to say that I finished the run and kept up with the kids. What a interesting, albeit tiring, experience! ~ Jessica
Photos below: 1-Director Jorge Mario and Alfonso decorate the van with the Guatemalan flag and balloons 2- Elias, Martin and Spike rest and hydrate in preparation for the run - yes, Spike ran the 10 miles 3- Jorge Mario and some the kids pose with the decorated van 4- the lighting of the torcha 5 - Jessica talking with Edwin and entertaining baby Tony before the run 6 - Elias and Spike taking a break during the run 7 - Kevin and Flora about mile four 8 - Vinicio showing that he's not tired 9 - Juan and little Alex are happy to be done running 10 - Jessica and her running partner, Flora 11 - Sarai eats a well-earned sandwhich after the race.