We spent four hours on a windy road through the mountains before arriving in Jalapa de Marques on Monday, then split into two groups, each of which was put up in a "house" within the town. In my case, that meant a large concrete storage shed with three beds, a poster of Marilyn Monroe, a sack of baseballs and a half dozen logs/chairs. Turning three beds into nine turned into a NASA-esque team-building exercise, but by putting a few people on mattress pads and me on a hammock, we managed to find a spot for everyone.
Granted, one of the cots had a rusty spring jabbing into the air in a jaunty sort of salute, and another had, until very recently, been hosting an enormous roach; and my hammock, due to old age, exhibited a peculiar reverse curve, meaning that a thin strip directly beneath my spine was taut, while the sides sloped flabbily downward. But nobody was sleeping on the floor. Our group, in general, is fairly relaxed and many of us have had worse accomodations, but there was a general consensus that it would have been nice to have some preparation, a basic, "Hey, have you ever seen a movie about POWs and examined their sleeping accomodations?" Something along those lines.
Nonetheless, we had a lovely time in Jalapa de Marques. On Tuesday we visited the lake that marks where the town used to stand before the government decide it would benefit the common good to replace the area with a manmade lake. We took a boat out to the town's church, the only landmark high enough to rise above the water level, even this early in the rainy season.
The church was built in the 1500s and was flooded about fifty years ago. We were actually able to climb on top of the church and a few of us dove into the water and swam through the windows. The water was cloudy and green and full of debris, but it was cool and calm, and the interior of the church was incredible. (This picture shows the church with the water level much lower.)
I, alas, inhaled a snort of water when I dove in, and returned to town with an ear ache. Fortunately for me, our house mothers had some hydrogen peroxide, and they offered helpful advice while I tried to treat myself. Eventually, the abuelita (discouraged by my inefficient attempts to cure myself) ordered me to jump and started smacking my head to try to dislodge the water. I'm not sure how effective her efforts were, but at the very least my roommates were amused.