Saturday, April 23, 2011

Aflombras en Comayagua

23/4/11
Kristen says...

Happy Passover (last Thursday)
Happy Easter (tomorrow!)

Hope you are all enjoying Holy Week (or ignoring it, whatever your preference is...)

I am definitely enjoying having some time off...although I'm trying not to let my mind go to mush so I'm not a worthless teacher for the last month of school...I did that during our last long weekend, and I really felt it took me WAY too long to get back in the groove...

Anyway, yesterday we went to see one of the most famous Semana Santa (Holy Week) traditions in Honduras...the alfombras in Comayagua.

Now, these are not the rugs you would have in your house (quite the opposite, actually...these are WAY too messy...)

I actually had my 6th graders re-create these WAY back in September during our school's celebration of Dia de la Independencia (see the two little carpets right in front of the Cathedral?) but those were absolutely NOTHING like what we saw yesterday.

Comayagua is about an hour away from Teguc, but to get there means going through quite a bit of road construction (part of the expansion project for the Pan-American Highway...once it's done it will be really nice, but for now it's a big pain in the rear) on a heavily-trafficked road. Thanks to Hannah (her blog can be found here (and incidentally, has the cutest picture EVER of a baby with a passport) we didn't leave at 10:00 like we had originally planned, we left the city just a little after 6:00 AM.

Luckily we went with people who have people, and we had a driver. No parking hassle, no miles on the CR-V...life is good! (At one point the speed limit sign said 30 km/hr...I checked and the driver was going 130...needless to say we made good time).

PLUS, it's Semana Santa, which means no traffic!!! At all other times of the year driving in Teguc is like a constant game of bumper cars, but during Semana Santa the city is deserted and it's a great time to drive!

Anyway, we made it to Comayagua a little after 7, which was nice because we beat a lot of other people and we go to see the carpets as they were being made and before they were roped off...very up-close and personal.
Oh, did I mention the carpets were made out of (for the most part) wood shavings?!

Yep, the carpets were made out of colored pieces of sawdust, salt, and other ingredients from nature like pinecones, nuts, and larger woodshavings...they were all kinds of colors, ranging from the jewel tones above to neons (you'll see below.)

Some of them were purely religious and had images of Jesus, Mary, etc on them, and others honored people who had died, civic organizations, or even corporate sponsors. Most were "flat" but a few were 3-D.

The patterns were made using tools like cardboard stencils and butter knives, and everything was kept from flying away by squirted water.

Take a gander at some of the various carpets we saw below (and remember, if you want to see them larger all you have to do is click on the picture):







































































(There were very conveniently placed stepladders near many of the carpets that let us get some whole-carpet shots.)
























The whole point of the carpet-making process (which for at least one carpet was over 10 hours of work by a team of at least 8 people) was to provide cover for the ground on which the procession would walk.

Now, I am not a Catholic, nor do I speak Spanish, so I can't honestly explain exactly what the procession was for...but I'm sure you can look it up. From what I saw, it was a group of people dressed up and carrying what looked to me like parade floats that had various religious persons portrayed (by mannequins) on top of them.

Here's a video Chris shot of the beginning of the procession, and some pictures I took a bit later...
















Of course, after all that, the carpets looked a little different...



<-Before

After->
(notice the big paper sketch underneath...kind of cool!)

















Lots of little kids were collecting the sawdust...not sure what for...but I kind of wish we'd kept some!




















Of course, a trip to Comayagua is nothing without visiting the BEAUTIFUL colonial churches... we actually got to go up in one of them, and see how the old clock made the bells ring, which was really neat.

Here, I'm sure you are surprised, are some pictures:






<- Notice how the outline of the church is reflected on the concrete in front...




























I have many more (I'm sure you're not surprised!) which I will have Chris upload to Flikr at some point in the near future...








Happy Easter!
KF

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

¡Esta Lluviendo!

20/4/2011
Kristen says...
WHOO HOO!! :)


KF

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Oh, The Weather Outside is...

16/4/11
Kristen says...

Take a look at this screen grab I just took from my iGoogle page...
Current weather for Tegucigalpa = Smoke.

SMOKE?!

The first time I read that it immediately reminded me of this Family Guy "PSA" (and yes, Andy, I did steal this idea from you...thanks!)

For those of you who don't live here or haven't ever been here at this time of year, allow me to illustrate what "Smoke" weather is...












Besides the fact that the building is green and yellow instead of gray, do you notice the other major difference? Where did the mountains go?!

Here are some other "Smoke" pics for your "enjoyment":









Gross, huh?











Come on rainy season!!!
KF

More Firsts...Some Good, Some...Eh

16/4/11
Kristen says...

Well, I've been experiencing a few more Honduran firsts this week...actually, they're all just firsts, which is both good and bad, but they're happening to me in Honduras, so...

Anyway, semantics aside.

My first first was of the "eh" variety...

I ran out of gas on my way home Wednesday.

On Boulevard Morazan.

400 yards from the house.

200 yards from the gas station.

Awesome.

Believe it or not, I have never run out of gas before! I am usually very conscious about things like that, because I consider it very, VERY embarrassing to be that person on the side of the road, struggling to push the car up the hill to the gas station. (And, now I can say from personal experience, it is!) Except I didn't have to do any pushing, luckily.

Chris told me I needed to fill up the tank...and I agreed with him. I would, once he was in the car with me. In Honduras they don't let you fill up your own tank...it's all full service down here...which is nice, but intimidating. I'd rather have my husband deal with it...or at least have someone else in the car with me. (Which, as I'm writing it, sounds so silly...isn't it less safe to be outside your car filling up than inside where you can quickly start the engine and drive away, whether or not someone else is in the car with you?)

Silliness aside, that's how I feel, so I was waiting to have Chris in the car with me to fill up the tank. We were going to do it on the way home from yoga on Tuesday (another first...I'll get there in a minute..) but he was like, disgustingly sweaty, so we skipped it.

Mistake :)

I was taking another teacher home after school on Tuesday and had just started to turn the car onto the road to get to her road (follow that?) when the car starts to sputter, slow down, and then dies.

I'm thinking, oh crap and looking at the gas gauge, which still says I have about 1/10th of a tank left. She's instructing, "Pull over, turn on your hazards, get to the side!" because there is a car coming straight at us (honking all the way, like any good Honduran driver).

I hit the hazards, shut off the ignition, and then re-started the car. Magically, it restarts...so I quickly drive her up the hill and drop her off at her house, PRAYING I will make it to the nearest gas station, which isn't very near at all.

And I almost made it!

I had to go down about 6 hills and up about 7, and then got onto the Boulevard. I passed the road to our house, and could see the gas station when...cough, clank, die. And it would NOT restart this time.

So I called Chris. But he's on call this week and couldn't come help.

So, I had 2 choices. I could walk to the gas station (only 200 yards, but on a very busy road with no sidewalks, and I was by myself) or grab the older, friendly-looking taxi driver cleaning his car across the street.

I chose the taxi driver.

I locked the car and ran across the road with cell phone and wallet in hand, and in very unintelligible Spanish (I can never remember what I want to say in "emergency" situations) told him I was out of gas and asked if he could drive me to the gas station.

It took a minute, but he finally understood what I meant, and agreed to take me. So I got in the car and he drove me past my car to the gas station.

When we got there, he asked if I had a container for the gas, which of course I didn't. Luckily he had one. Then he went and got the gas, but I only had 40 lps with me and a full gallon cost 90 (just under $5.00), so he spotted me the 50 lps. When we got back to the car he asked if I had a funnel (which, of course, I didn't.) So he used one of the Diet Pepsi bottles in my car to make one...he had no cutting tool, so he used his tire iron to hit it until the plastic broke. He poured in the gas, then put away his tools and told me to get in and turn the car on, then he stood there with traffic whizzing by listening to my engine to make sure I was going to be ok.

I paid him back for the gas and gave him 100 lps as a thank you very much for being a great guy and not robbing or killing me...I don't think he expected that at all from the look on his face...sot hat made me feel good, but he had been really, really helpful.

Anyway, I drove the last 200 yds on that gallon of gas and got the tank filled, and that was the end of that adventure.
--

Another "first" is just beginning...it's Semana Santa (Holy Week) and I am off school (starting Thursday at 3:30) until Tuesday the 26th! I don't really have many plans for this break, but I hope to be productive...we'll see.

So far I've:
-eaten doughnuts with Chris
-had lunch with a teacher-friend and her baby boy (so cute!!)
-finished 2 books
-slept in once
-made beer bread (not too bad--Chris gave up alcohol for Lent (another first), so I guess this is his way of "cheating"?)
-blogged about running out of gas

What I need to do:
-check the 3 tests I gave on Thursday
-grade all the assignments I had due last week
-plan my lessons for the 3 days after the break which I will be missing to chaperon our Model UN team in La Ceiba
-and other stuff tbd
-oh yeah, relax and enjoy my break.

The only solid plans I have right now are to go see the alfombras (carpets) in Comayagua on Good Friday..other than that, I'm a free bird :)

Anyway, hope you are enjoying your week, Semana Santa or no...

KF

Monday, April 11, 2011

EXCITEMENT ABOUNDS!!!

4/11/11
Kristen says...

Guess what we (meaning Chris) just did...!!

You may remember me speaking of the Olympics a few times over the past year + (especially this memorable rant when I considered trying to join the Honduran national team...hahaha)

Well, about 5 minutes ago Chris and I put in our official request for Olympics tickets for the 2012 Games in LONDON!!!!!!!

Last time I was in London I looked like this:














(a little thinner, a little younger, a little bit shorter hair...and no, that's not Chris I'm canoodling with, that's my brother Daniel! He and my super-dad came to visit me over Thanksgiving when I was studying abroad in fall 2004...and we saw The Incredibles for an incredible 14£ price tag!!)

Chris has never been to London at all...poor guy!

Anyway, we officially put in our request for tickets for six events:
-Swimming (naturally, it was my #1/2 sport in high school)
-Tennis (Chris wants to see Wimbledon)
-Table Tennis
-Fencing
-Gymnastics (hopefully we get to see Iowa's own Shawn Johnson compete)
-Equestrian

I also wanted Athletics (Track and Field, my other #1/2 sport in high school), but they didn't start running until August 4, and I'm not sure where I'll be teaching then, and I don't want to have to miss too much school...

Anyway, keep your fingers crossed that we get selected for all those requests!!

Theoretically we should know if we are selected for tickets sometime within the next month or two (we hope)...the request phase ends on the 22nd of April, so hopefully they get their acts together quickly after that!!

I'M SO EXCITED!!!! :)

For one, I have ALWAYS wanted to go to the Olympics!!! What an amazing thing!!
And for two, I have been wishing I was back in London since I left in December 2004...I can't believe it's already been 6 1/2 years!! Too long!

We're probably going to go over a few days (maybe even a week) before the actual Olympics start so we can do some sight-seeing...I am REALLY excited to show Chris all the places I went when I was living there, and to revisit my old stomping grounds.

I think Chris is most excited about the beer. :)

Either way, it will be great!

We'll keep you updated on whether or not we get the tickets...

KF

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Motifs #6,7 and 8!



3/4/11
Kristen says...

Well, I've been doing a bit more hobby-stuff recently (a positive benefit of teaching things I am more interested in, and therefore know more about so I have to do less background research on to teach). Last time I posted about tatting, one of our commentors (is that a word?) suggested I try the "stumpy" bookmark motif (found here).

So I did! (I love it when people comment, and I really loved getting a suggestion...I will take any/all suggestions or comments anyone wants to give me!)

I can't say that stumpy was my favorite motif I've ever made, but it wasn't too bad. I think part of my problem is that my first time through I tried to make it longer, and it just didn't work for me...plus, I kind of started it late at night, and so I had to put it down the middle of one of the sides...so by the time I picked it up again a few days later, I ended up messing it up and having to start it all over.

So here's my "Stumpy" little bookmark:
The day after I finished it, I was invited by the art teacher at my school to participate in the school's art project in support of Japan...she had gotten out some Japanese ink and was teaching the students the art of Sumi-e (Japanese ink painting). Her plan is to have the students make images which are being attached to a scroll, which will all be given to our local Japanese embassy (we have quite a few Japanese students at Discovery).

As she was demonstrating the technique (unfortunately I don't have any images of my Sumi-e "skills" to show you, but you can Google it if you really want to see it...), one of the things she drew was a little gecko climbing a bamboo stalk...and it hit me how much the gecko's body and tail looked like my little stumpy...

So when I got home I looked at the little bookmark and tried to design my own stumpy gecko... here he is:
As ever, he didn't turn out quite how I wanted him to be. I think the head needs to be bigger, and he actually looks either pregnant or just extremely well-nourished...but overall, it could have been much worse! Basically, the changes I made were to enlarge and add beads to the top ring, add a tiny picot to the four 5-15-5 rings, and then use those small rings to add the arms (2 extra rings) and legs (3 extra rings).

And then I stuck him on the plant for a bit of "realism." :)

It's one of my first tries actually "designing" a motif...if you can call adding a few rings and making another ring larger designing...maybe it's more of a "gecko based on the pattern "stumpy" by Kersti" :)

Finally, I get the Be-Stitched newsletter each month, and I liked Nancy's medallion well enough to give it a go...as someone mentioned a few weeks ago, I do find myself thinking I might end up with "drawers full of doilies" as I have nobody to give these too, but I guess there are worse things to have too much of...hopefully someone will want them someday, a niece or someone...

Anyway...Nancy's medallion: I have all that new thread, so I thought I would use some of it, so I have this variegated yellow-white medallion...maybe I'll try to add another round to the outside and make it a real doily...
So that's what I've been doing lately on the tatting side of things...I also bought and read another copy (#3, I think) of James Michner's "Hawaii", my all-time favorite book (my other two copies are in the States...well, one is really my dad's copy that I kind of "borrowed" and never returned, and then I found a beautiful first-edition hard copy a few years ago and bought that too, and then I found another version down here for 20 lps...$1 is more than fair for my favorite book ever!! even if the book is a little worse for the wear...it was still very readable!)
I have also been doing some baking...which I will tell you about (and show you) in another post.

Hope you've had a great weekend! :)
KF