December 6th was an exciting day for the Chicas Dinamicas at Los Nogales and their mothers! We went on a well deserved rock-climbing trip with Escalando Esperanzas, an organization that teaches important life values through rock-climbing and other activities. Carly and I invited the mothers of the Chicas Dinamicas as a way of allowing them to see the values that GSW teaches and also as a way for the girls to see their mothers as strong and adventurous, rock-climbing women! The trip was a blast and the sunny weather added to the natural beauty of the rock and the mountains that Pachamama (mother earth) provided us. As the bus reached the point where we would have to continue on foot, several audible gasps came from the girls. Some clasped their mouths, nervously giggling while others proclaimed that “it didn’t look that big.” But as we neared the rock I heard nervous whispers of “it looked a lot smaller from the road!”
We arrived at the rock to find 4 climbing professionals waiting to teach us to conquer our fears! After a brief explanation of form and safety regulations, the first group of 3 girls were requested. To my surprise, 5 hands shot up in the air almost immediately. These girls were fearless and eager to demonstrate their skills! As they secured their harnesses and prepared for the climb, cheers of support could be heard from the crowd. Rock-climbing may seem to be an individual sport, but as we learned, it is certainly a team-building activity. You cannot reach the top without the physical and mental support of your teammates.
One of the highlights of the trip was when one of the younger girls, Mylinda, made it about half way up the rock before freezing. She wanted to come back down, but was too afraid to lean back into her harness and be lowered to the ground. One of the older girls, Paola, was nearly at the top when she noticed how frightened her one of her friends was. She lowered herself to an equal level and explained to Mylinda that she shouldn’t be afraid and that they were going to go down together. Paola wrapped her legs around Mylinda and showed her the proper technique to lower herself. They went down a few steps together before Mylinda felt comfortable enough to make it alone. It was exciting that Paola did this without even being prompted. She saw a friend in need and immediately jumped into action.
The day was not only filled with exciting rock-climbing adventures, the girls also had a dynamic first aid course, played some volleyball and frisbee, and participated in exciting relays that included face painting! The girls were split into teams and given the task to paint each others faces before exploring the area while tied together in search of hidden harnesses and helmets. While most of the girls painted their teammates with flowers or different animals, my team, while giggling very sneakily, asked me “Profe, quieres un bigote?” I knew that word… bigote… but at the moment I could not remember its meaning. Only after a thick green mustache had been drawn on my face to the amusement of the girls, did it come back to me. I couldn’t be the only one with a mustache so I convinced them to go draw mustaches on their mothers and Senora Hilda (one of the school administrators). The laughter was contagious.
We returned to the bus at the end of the day in a surprise sprint. While Carly and I, along with the mothers and Senora Hilda, were exhausted from the hot sun and the day’s activities, somehow the girls were still filled with energy! The bus ride home consisted of dancing and singing Feliz Navidad and other Christmas carols. Needless to say, the day was certainly a learning experience that took place in the most fun and hilarious way! And I think we definitely have some potential pro climbers on our hands 🙂