Yesterday we headed out to go to Barva (founded in 1613) which is about 5km away. There is a lovely old church there built in 1867 and we wandered around the park and inside the church. Very pretty.
But our best find was the Museo de Cultura Popular just on the outside of town. This is run by the university and has educational programs about traditional house manufacturing, cooking, mask making, and life in the 1800s and early 1900s. We were invited to join a group of adults who were having a tour but then one of the people working there realized we weren’t understanding much as it was all in rapid Spanish and we had a private tour (in English).

The people in the big group started introducing themselves and it turns out they were teachers/directors from one school. I said I was also a teacher and suddenly we were all great friends.

As we were finishing the tour and getting ready to leave, one of the teachers ran over and asked if we could stay a little while as they were putting on a surprise party for the director of the school and would be using puppets. Until it started they brought out traditional games for us to try including stilts and hoops to roll. Then the music started and a group of people dressed up in big masks and huge puppet-types of things that they wore but were about 10 feet tall came out. Everyone was dancing and clapping and the puppets bobbed and swayed and did silly things to make viewers laugh. They even got Mark to dance with them and he did a nice job!

The little ones were a bit nervous as the puppets have rather dramatic faces (one of them was of a past president we were told but it was unclear if this was because he was revered or disliked!).
I chatted with one of the teachers and it turns out she is the director of a special education school here and so I shared that my mother is a special education director as well and would be visiting next month. Soon numbers and names were being exchanged and we have plans to visit with each other. It will be great to perhaps see and talk to teachers here and find out more about the educational system from an inside perspective.

We have seen many schools both state-run and private. They are very visible and active and seem to be a much more central and vibrant part of the towns with parents and children coming and going constantly. Certainly a huge part of the community from what we can tell so far.

Mark is cooking up a pasta dish of fresh squid and mushrooms and we have a delicious loaf of French bread. There are lots of small bakeries here and baguettes are very popular. The amazing aroma drew us in and we have not been disappointed. Just as good as a French boulangerie and heck the coffee is grown right around us so certainly fresh!