We had the opportunity to have dinner on Tuesday night at the Cafe de los Mimos, a project of the School of Comedy and Mime (website in Spanish). The school provides opportunity to homeless children in the Granada area, teaching them acting and circus-style performance.

The performance we saw was similar in style to Cirque du Solei with beginning skill. There was contortion, juggling, stilts, tricks of strength and wonderful acting with facial expression.

After the play, we heard a band perform. There was a lot of dancing. Music and dance are a big part of the culture here. As we saw in El Limon, even young children learn the basic steps and moves of several dances. There were very few wallflowers at the cafe. And there were professional dancers from Costa Rica who had come from a performance still wearing face makeup.

The show was a great end to a day exploring an amazing city. Our guides, Lucy and Aldo, have gone out of their way to make sure we learn about the country by visiting service groups as often as possible. For many of us, that way of exploring communities may become standard practice.

The band at Cafe de los Mimos.

The band at Cafe de los Mimos.

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Ashonte was raised by a military family originally from Louisiana and in high school she participated in JROTC. You could probably guess that much about her background if you listen to her talk for even a few minutes.

“Miss Lucy,” “Dr. Ellis,” “yes ma’am” and “no sir” are her default responses. She’s hard-wired to speak formally, and many of us still aren’t used to hearing it.

She’s the youngest in our group at 18-years-old, so she’s been taught to use a courtesy title for each of us. She’s outgoing and well-traveled. She likes to sing and spent our first day in Granada reading The Great Gatsby.

Ashonte likes to stay active and is quick to trust. At the waterfall near El Limon the non-swimmer agreed to climb on to a piece of driftwood that served as a makeshift raft. Meghan, Laura, Sam and Jenna surrounded the raft to keep her safe as they pushed her out to and underneath the waterfall. She smiled and laughed the entire time.

The biology major who lives in Topeka plans to become a veterinarian. Her mom, who is studying human services, wanted to go on the trip but encouraged Ashonte to go in her place. She took careful notes on the history presentations to share with her mom when we get back to Topeka.

Ashante jams

Ashante sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” at Quaker House.

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Deanna is a mother of five so she comes by the title “the mom” quite honestly.

True to form, her carry-on bag rivals only Mary Poppins’ endless bag of necessities. She’s got stuff to make you go, stuff to make you stop going, stuff to relieve inflammation, drain your sinuses, stop a cough, wrap an injury and who knows what else.

When someone needed nail clippers and she realized she didn’t have any, she bought some. She is prepared for any situation and ready to share. She doesn’t even wait for you to ask, she just gives you what you need so you can decide what to do with it.

Deanna is a senior majoring in human services who lives between Ottawa and Williamsburg. Her son, Nathan (the second oldest of five), also is on the trip.

Deanna visits in El Limon.

Deanna visits in El Limon.

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