Christmas morning we gathered all the young men and boys in the village.  I had gathered baseball things from the St. Johns Church fair for the boys, and we used to opportunity to encourage them to organize a baseball clinic for the younger kids.  We then gave the small gloves and bats to the older boys.  Given the male dominated drunken scene on Christmas eve that began with a cock-fight in the afternoon, it was a good opportunity to reflect with the boys how they want to spend their free time.  Before we actually gave the bag of baseball things, they had come to the conclusion themselves that taking sports more seriously could encourage the young kids to stay away from alcohol and violence, and also elected a small group of older youths to become leaders and run the baseball clinic.

Later in the day we met with the young girls and also used the opportunity to talk a little about family planning and education.  It was a smaller group than the boys, and they already had elected three leaders and begun a project planting pipian and vegetables.  Earlier in the day they took advantage of the cock fight to make some money selling tacos and repochetas.  Our gift to them was a full size volleyball net and new soccer ball with a good pump.

Unpacking the gifts for the nursery school with the help of Ninoska, a friendly four-year-old neighbor of Melaña.  Several of the mothers and the girls looked on. Some big bouncy balls and an abacus with little plastic bears to learn basic math seemed to be the most immediately popular.

The big Christmas day tradition for the kids is walking to the river, where there is a giant swimming hole.  We gathered chigüines, frisbees, and soccer balls and set off for the forty minute walk.  The best game of the day was climbing up onto the fallen tree (on the right side of the picture) and jumping off while trying to catch the frisbee.

The swimming hole was the largest and most beautiful I’ve been to here.  It was large and deep enough to really swim laps.  La Arinconada is lucky to have several accessible paths to this river and another little stream.  Many villagers use the rivers not just for pleasure but also to bathe and wash clothes.  It was a peaceful and beautiful way to spend Christmas day.

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