Monday, January 14, 2013

Feliz Navidad!

First and foremost, I want to thank the readers who donated money to help us buy our leukemia kids their Christmas presents from ¨Papa Noel¨! Since I want you to see the smiles on their faces when they opened their presents, I have posted the pictures from that happy day.
Trying to hold on to all of his presents at once

Our jugadores de futbol

Teddy Bear hug

Cars and Man-dolls (aka action figures)

Smile :)

Group shot

My soccer players again
Every year at Christmas when I´m away from home, I get terribly homesick. For the last two years I have had to work during Christmas, so I had become accustomed to working my 12 hour night shifts and sleeping through the holiday. However, this year was different because I was awake and didn´t miss Christmas, and it was one I will never forget. As homesick and emo as I was during the days leading up to Dec. 25, I actually enjoyed this Christmas and found the spirit of the season with my leukemia kids and fellow volunteers.

On Christmas Eve, I went to my hospital and spent time drawing Papa Noel with my kids and watching Christmas movies. In the afternoon, our organization, Maximo Nivel, was hosting a big Christmas dinner for their 3 orphanages. We spent the afternoon at the orphanage with these kids setting up for the dinner and decorating, and, of course, preparing/cooking the grand dinner.

Santa getting ready at the orphange

¨Papa Noel¨handing out presents at the orphanage

That night, a couple friends and I went out to dinner, overlooking the incredibly crowded Plaza de Armas. Christmas in Cusco is a huge fiesta. Local Peruvians from out of town flock to the Plaza. It´s a very interesting Christmas tradition: the impoverished locals from the hills come into town and set up their markets selling anything and everything they can on the 24th and the 25th, and at night they sleep on the sidewalk bundled up together. For many here, Christmas is the time when they can make the most money, and take what they earn back up to their small villages in the hills to get by for they next few months.

By midnight, the Christmas market was cleared away, and everyone returned to shoot off fireworks. It was really pretty, but it also felt like, what I can only imagine to be, a war zone. Firecrackers rocketing up pretty close, or spinning on the ground, and all coming from every direction. We hurried home and shot off a couple fireworks from our roof. Merry Christmas!

On Christmas day, I woke up early to go to one of the many Catholic churches to attend Christmas mass. I didn´t understand much, as it was naturally in Spanish, but I totally missed the memo about bringing a baby Jesus to mass and getting it blessed by the priest. By the time I figured holy communion was about to happen, every family lined up to get their baby Jesuses blessed. It took forever. Then I went to my hospital and visited my kids for a couple hours. The rest of the day was spent with my lovely house mates, eating, drinking, and watching Christmas movies. We saved the best for last: It´s a Wonderful Life.


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