At our school, Noche de Luces (Night of Lights) is the event of the year. All teachers are required to work at one post or another, and kids and teachers alike talk about how fun the thing is months in advance. Last Wednesday, I finally got to experience it.
Annette and Joel and I arrived just after the doors were opened at 4pm and wandered around before the crowds arrived. After we'd spent the previous Saturday in one of the poorest communities in the city, Annette commented to me, "It's hard not to see this as a huge waste of money. But if you don't think about that, it's really pretty fun." I think that sums it up well. She's right; this event truly is a big deal. My jaw kept dropping as we walked about.
Our entire basketball/volleyball/four-square court area and the small soccer field were covered with plastic tables and chairs. There was a stage set up on the east end of the courts and a band was preparing to play. Ringing the small soccer field was a food court comprised of probably 15 venues. There were plenty of restaurant chains represented, but I think the most popular booth (among teachers, at least) was the Jewish Community’s tent serving up tasty falafel. But there were also 2 sushi restaurants, Chinese food, Pollo Campero (Guatemala’s version of KFC), Subway, 2 coffee shops, a sandwich place, burgers, Korean food, and several other options.
Meandering away from the food court, though, we came to the carnival. Oh. My. Goodness.
First of all, we saw that our gazebo had been turned into a princess palace. Women dressed as the Disney princesses welcomed small girls in to put on princess dresses, have their hair and nails done, and get their pictures taken.
Also in the carnival, we saw giant bouncy structures, actual carnival rides for small children, an inflatable bike-maze (I cannot explain it any other way), one of those bungee-bounce things, a rock climbing wall, those bubble-ball things (see picture) and…a zipline.
Around every corner it seemed like there was another attraction.
|Bike maze thing|
|The bubble-ball things|
|And a zipline.|
In the auditorium, various artists performed songs and dances until 6pm.
We got some food (mmm…falafel) and enjoyed the live music outside. We greeted students right and left and mingled with other teachers.
At 7:30pm, the fireworks started. I was behind the beverage counter selling drinks by that point, but I still had a pretty good view.
Our school definitely put on a good show. The event was once again a success…and a great way to start off our winter break!