November 18, 2011

Never Again - A Field Trip to San Vicente Hot Springs

After a highly eventful 8th grade trip during my first year in Colombia, followed by a calm, enjoyable trip the second year, I wasn't really sure where this year's field trip would fall in the spectrum.   This 8th grade class is full of pretty good students with some fun personalities, but also a lot of immaturity from both males and females.  The weeks leading up to the trip were busy and rainy, thus leaving me without much sleep and our team without much confidence in the road conditions for the five hour bus ride from Cali to San Vicente.

However, arrive we did and the students jumped right into their activity groups for a variety of things including canopy (zip line), rappel, hikes, an activity with the counselor, hot springs time and spa activities like sand peeling, mud facials and massages. Not a bad way to spend three days outside of school! 

My favorite activity, the longer (45 minutes one way) hike to a waterfall, started great as our students enjoyed the usual fun of hiking around in the mud, getting stuck every now and then, and in general just enjoying the outdoors. However, after making it to the waterfall and spending some time in the water, our return hike was quickly spoiled by rain, hail, and students getting themselves way too stuck in the mud. At some points along the trail we could barely go 2-3 minutes without having to stop to help someone get his or her boot unstuck from the mud.  And then a girl lost her entire shoe in the mud and so another chaperone, Rob, had to carry her piggy back for the rest of the hike. With rain beating down from above, we arrived back to San Vicente soaked, chilled and hungry for a late lunch. After emerging from the trail head I walked down to my cabin and paused to turn to Rob and say, "Never again."

I will not be found on any long hikes with 20 students in boots during the rainy season of Colombia at any point in the near or distant future. Thankyouverymuch.

That night each group performed a student-created dance to the song "Party Rock", which the students really got into and did a great job with. Watching awkward teenagers dance is basically one of my favorite parts of being a teacher. :) The night finished with a bonfire where we taught our students how to make delicious smores. Yum! 

On the way back to Cali I reflected a bit on the trip and all the rain, and how some of the activities my students wanted to do were rained out, etc. I also thought about how the trip made me feel un-organized and un-prepared for all the rain, despite planning for weeks. I realized that in the end, the trip probably needs to happen during Colombia's dry season, and it probably needs to happen with more chaperones who have been to the location before. As one of just four (out of eleven) adults on the trip who had been to San Vicente before, I found it challenging to always be the person that students and other chaperones alike were always coming up to in order to ask questions or clarify what's happening next. At times I didn't get two bites into a meal that I usually sat down to after everyone else before being interrupted by a question.  Hopefully both of these things get better next year :)

As for me, I got a ride home from our drop-off point with a student and his mom. On the way to my apartment my student took the time to tell me how much fun he had on the trip, say thank you for making time for him and some others to do the rappel activity that morning (since it was previously cancelled due to rain), and to tell me how much fun he had on the trip talking to new people in his group and breaking out of his comfort zone during the dancing the night before. Hearing him say these things, completely un-prompted, made me so happy. I realized then that while the rain and general craziness of the field trip might have been frustrating, my students are adaptable to change and at the end of day, they just enjoyed spending time together outside of school.

And really...isn't that the point to begin with??

And finish with a few pictures:

Welcome to San Vicente hot springs

Students enjoying some free time (there was a lot of it with the rain!) in the main hot spring pool. 

Getting rid of the chill from the rain with sand peeling (buried in hot sand then having it massaged off of you...cooler than it sounds!). 

Around the hot springs. 

Male chaperones. 

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