This was our day of rest as a team. We started out with blissful sleeping in. Breakfast was 8:30. An hour
and a half later than usual! We enjoyed the wonderful food from Maria Jose together and then crammed onto
the colorful bus with purple tassels decorating the interior. We climbed up a mountain to the Iximche
(pronounced Ish-EEm-Chay) ruins. They are Mayan ruins from the 1400s. Apparently, the area was home to
around 400 people. It was protected by a moat around the compound, and the “commoners”, around 40,000 in number, lived outside. Inside, there were four identical set ups for family groups including a moon temple and a sun temple, a wind temple, and a ball court. The ball court was used to play a game with a 6 pound ball which could only be hit with the thigh or the knee. The games were used to decide boundary disputes and even love triangles. Sometimes, the loser lost his life. The fourth family set up was being used by modern day Mayans who perform rituals each day. The guide told us that the Mayan calendar is 260 days and that every 20 days the cycle resets. Each day is assigned to a different god, and they will offer sacrifices to the god of the rain, for instance on the day devoted to that god. Today was the new years day on the calendar, and there were
many people there celebrating. There were musicians, and colorfully dressed, men and women smoking enormous cigars, and they were throwing sugar, candles, and alcohol into the fire. It was quite the experience! We even saw one altar being built with a large slice of birthday cake in the center.
After eating a delicious sack lunch on the bus, we arrived in the city of Antigua. The group split into
several different groups, and we took in the sites of Antigua. Our family headed to the Chocolate
Museum and learned about the production process and the history of chocolate. Since cacoa beans were used
as currency, there was even a chart showing how many beans were needed to purchase a chicken, for example.
We sampled “mayan hot chocolate” which was a table top project. The waiter brought out clay dishes containing chocolate, honey, powdered cayenne pepper, and hot milk along with a jug and a wooden spoon. We got to combine the ingredients and then poor the mixture back and forth from the jug to the mug to mix it. Delicioso!
After the museum, we took in a few shops and then met up with the rest of the group in the main square to
head to dinner. The dinner is at a beautiful restaurant with so many plants and birds in the outdoor seating
area. We all enjoyed the wonderful garlic bread appetizer and chocolate truffles for dessert. It was the perfect
end to a long day of both refreshment and tourism. We are looking forward to church tomorrow morning and our third day of clinic. Please continue to pray for our physical strength and emotional strength to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the people we meet. We are feeling so blessed to be representing our people back home
and our Savior in this beautiful country. – Dan, Laurie, Alex and Sophia