Posts Tagged ‘parade’


Mary: First week in Jaipur

August 8, 2011

Namaste everyone! What a wonderful weekend I’ve had (:

On Friday after school, Emily and I spent the afternoon on the roof top terrace of our home which we just discovered! It’s absolutely breath taking. You can see for miles in all directions. We sat on the ledge of the roof for hours, marveling at how green the landscape looked, despite the fact that we were in the middle of a city, and watching a pair of bright green parrots flitting back and forth between clothes lines strung up on other roof tops. We talked about what our life ambitions were, where we wanted to travel in India, and a lot about Emily’s adventures in Tanzania. The next morning, Emily, Sam, Jordan, and I went on a grand yoga adventure, waking up at 5:30 and heading out to Central Park, a surprisingly large park which is right in the middle of the city. We had no idea where the yoga was supposed to be, just that it was going to start around 6, so we wandered all around, finding these crazy giant stone statues, beautiful little domed temple structures with benches underneath to rest on, and a ton of people power walking, doing their own little yoga sessions, and just lounging around. We finally came to this little cluster of trees with giant green mats rolled out under them and a little stage with a microphone and big speakers up front. There were a few people stretching and an old man sitting on the stage (jumping around like a madman doing what we assumed to also be warm up moves of his own special sort) so we figured we had come to the right place. We sat down on the mats and did some stretches while more and more people kept coming until there was a group of about 40 or so gathered. Around 6:30, the man on stage started talking in rapid fire Hindi, welcoming everyone and starting off the opening prayers, which everyone but Emily, Sam, Jordan, and I knew by heart and joined in for (I did catch the last line though: “shanti shanti shanti” which means peace peace peace). It was a beautiful, poetic prayer that gave me goosebumps of happiness. I really hope that I can understand more of what they were saying as my Hindi gets better. The instructor led us in some extravagant breathing exercises for about 45 minutes which made me more relaxed than I have been since arriving in India. Then we moved on to simple stretching exercises for the next half hour. We didn’t end up doing any of the yoga poses I’ve done back in the states, like tree pose or downward facing dog or any of those, which made me realize that the idea of yoga is much broader than Americans typically think of it. Any form of breathing and stretching here is considered yoga and the specific poses that are so well known to American’s are just one branch of that. My favorite part of the morning came at the very end of the class though. The entire group got onto our hands and knees and out of the blue everyone started to yell as loud as they possibly could while sticking their tongues out. It was quite shocking at the time and I couldn’t help but start giggling. Then all of a sudden, everyone was laughing a loud and full bellied HAHAHA together! It was quite delightful and just made me laugh even more at how jolly everyone seemed. I definitely think these two exercises should be added to yoga classes in the states.

Afterwards, we all slowly meandered through the park, taking in the still cool weather and generally just marveling at the fact that we were actually in India. As we made our way back to the main road, we started to hear trumpets in the distance. When we walked out of the park gates, there was a stupendous parade going down the street! At the front were four or five elephants, with painted faces and ears and three or four people riding atop them in magnificent attire. Then came the marching band we heard, with men dressed in fantastic white uniforms with elaborate head dresses.  Next were six groups of three men each carrying little platforms between them with a coconut and idol of some god sitting on top. Maybe this was a parade for the beginning of coconut season? We never actually found out. There were big groups of dancing women in beautiful bright pink sari’s and a couple of naked men holding peacock feathers to cover their unmentionables, then finally bringing up the rear was a big crowd of people just dancing and following along happily. It was all very exciting and festive and Emily, Sam, Jordan and I were thrilled to walk along with the crowd at the back for about half an hour until we made it back to the part of town where our houses are and we all went home for breakfast. I worked on Hindi for a few hours, ate lunch, took a cat nap and woke up just in time for afternoon tea. After that Emily and I went to the mall downtown and got our first Indian clothes! It was all very exciting. On Sunday, we had a lazy day of sitting around and reading or working on Hindi. In the afternoon we went over to Raja Park, a big bazaar a few streets away from our house. I needed to buy a plug adaptor for my laptop (I found one for about 75 cents, what a steal!).  Emily and I wandered around for a couple of hours, exploring all sorts of nooks and crannies. We found this really neat shop with tiny little elephant carvings that we definitely want to come back to at some point. It’s still kind of weird being constantly stared at while we’re walking around but thankfully it isn’t nearly as bad when just Emily and I are together, rather than walking around with all 8 of us students. It’s so nice being in a city where everything is accessible on foot, it makes exploring so much easier! I haven’t taken a ride in an auto rickshaw yet but it’s definitely next on my to-do list.


Sam: I’m still alive

November 6, 2010

My room-house

It has been exactly two eventful weeks since my last update, so rest assured that I have not been kidnapped and know that this could take a while to read.

Monday, October 25, was my moving day. All of the students with internships in the northern sector climbed aboard the bus with suitcases and backpacks to begin a long morning of placement. After all of the Otavalo students were placed, we met up with our families to be taken to our new homes. My host mother, Tania, first took me to the food market before heading back to the house. The highlight of the market is definitely the meat: refrigeration isn’t necessary and kidneys and chicken feet are often on display front and center. The fruit is always fresh and good here so that definitely made up for the hanging half-bull. When I arrived at the house I met my dogs, Pancho and Laika, and my siblings: Anayani (12), Ankalli (9), and Amauri (8).

Amauri and Ankalli playing with Laika

Tuesday, October 26, was the first day of my internship at CEMOPLAF. My boss, Mariana, showed me around the facility and introduced me to the staff. The first few days were filled with observation and preparing the Adolescent Room for Thursday, when the high school students from the region would join us for the new adolescent program. On Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons I went to Iglesia Evangélica Jesús el Buen Pastor in Calpaquí to see CEMOPLAF’s dentistry services in action for the sponsored children who receive lunch and services at the church.

Anita revels in the pain that Henry inflicts upon this poor child

Luis is a representation of Otavalo and clearly helps dispel regional stereotypes

Thursday I observed the adolescent program and began writing my own surveys and programs for the kids. Friday was the beginning of festivities as the kindergartens and primary schools marched in the first parade for the Foundation of Otavalo. I mistakenly volunteered to observe in pediatrics that day; almost nobody came in because they were either in the parade or watching their other children in the parade.

On Saturday I woke up early to head to the Otavalo market. Seven hours later with a bag of loot I returned to the house to rest and prepare for the rest of the festivities with the family. On Monday I watched the secondary schools march to celebrate the actual day of the Foundation of Otavalo. After that I headed to Cotacachi with some other students to search for fine leather goods. The few places that do make men’s boots do not carry my size or close to it. After shopping and compulsive snacking I met up with my extended family to make bread in outdoor ovens for the Day of the Dead celebrations.

Tuesday, November 2, was Día de los Difuntos: the Day of the Dead. For breakfast I had my first taste of cuy, or fried guinea pig. Gamey. I went with the family and their friends Angeles and Luis from Cataluña to the indigenous part of the Otavalo cemetery where we met up with the extended family from the night before to eat lunch and fruit.

Mario, Tania and Abuelita eating inside of a tomb. Seriously.

They taste pretty much the same as they look.

After that we drove to Cotacachi to purchase champus, which is a sweet corn drink not unlike some kind of dessert chicha. We returned to Otavalo to Mario’s mother’s house to eat lunch number two, which included a creamy corn soup, champus, and churros. These churros are not the fried tubes of dough as they are in the rest of the world…

Even Cachetes (Cheeks), Abuelita’s bear-dog, won’t eat churros

Surprisingly enough I survived the cuy and churros to make it to Wednesday for chores and lunch with a family friend, Yaro, and his son, Yaro. Later that night, we met his first daughter, Yarita, and his youngest daughter, Victoria, who somehow made it into this world with a name that doesn’t begin with “Yar.”

This week is only Thursday, Friday and Saturday to make up for the vacation days, so I will be spending it working instead of going to Latacunga for Mamá Negra unless something happens where I both don’t have to work and can find room at a hostel. Instead, maybe I’ll just go to Cayambe to continue my search for leather man boots.


Veronica: Carnaval in Nice

February 17, 2010
I went to Nice for Carnaval this past weekend, and it was absolutely amazing. If you get the opportunity to go, GO! It started hundreds of years ago. I got there for the opening ceremony on Friday. There were thousands of people (and the number of people just kept going up all weekend). At the opening ceremony there were lots of balloon floats and acrobatics and people dressed up in crazy costumes. They also unveiled the two main floats of the festival at the end of the ceremony, after the countdown.
There were two parades on Saturday; the Flower Parade, and the Parade of Lights. We had to pay for admission for these, so we watched through holes in the fence during the Flower Parade and paid for the Parade of Lights. That was a good choice. The Flower Parade was cool, but the Parade of Lights was a thousand times better. And, most of the same floats were in both parades, and there were more, different ones at night. It cost 10 Euros to stand, and honestly, that was the best thing to do. I was right up in the front with the floats passing 6 inches in front of me.

There are tons of people and loud music, even during the day when there weren’t any events going on. It was such a fun time. I think tons of silly string and confetti must be bought/used for Carnaval. I ended up taking home handfuls of confetti without trying, and there were people trailing silly string from hats and coats and hair. It was a mess, but it was amazing.

The one thing that I was surprised about was that Carnaval wasn’t a 24-hour party all day and all night. After an event, people left, went shopping, etc. Then they came back for the next event, and then left when it was over. I was expecting it to be more like Carnival in New Orleans, and it wasn’t like that at all. It was the most fun I’ve had in my whole life. And I’m not exaggerating. It was the best weekend ever. I’m having trouble finding words to explain to you how much fun and how incredible it was, it was that good. So, to find out what I mean, buy a plane ticket (or train ticket) to Nice for Carnaval next year. If I can swing it, I’ll be there.

Kathryn: Rio Bamba y Carnival

February 17, 2010

For many Latin American countries, including Ecuador, Saturday through Tuesday of this past weekend was a rowdy celebration known as Carnaval. Different countries and some individual cities have traditional ways of partying before Ash Wednesday, the day when Catholics begin forty days of fasting and penance leading up to Easter.  Customary festivities in Ecuador include parades, games, music, water fights and of course, a holiday from school! Typically, natives and tourists flock to the West—towards the beaches—to make merry day and night during Carnaval. On Saturday morning, however, I found myself  packed into a four-door sedan at full capacity rumbling South to a city called Rio Bamba. I was traveling with Muma, a friend from the Catholic University soccer team with which I have been training, her brother Carlos, two friends on their way to respective hometowns, and her adorable Schnauzer, Lila. Traffic notwithstanding, the adventure really began ten miles outside of Ambato, when the car started shaking then haltingly collapsed with a fully deflated front right tire.  After unloading the fifteen suitcases we had miraculously packed into the trunk, we discerned that we had a spare tire, a jack, and a socket wrench…but no keys with which to take off the hubcap. In the end, Muma and I hitched a ride to Ambato, borrowed a mechanics assistant, took a taxi back to our car with him, photographed him changing the tire, and deposited him back at the ferreteria (hardware store), rattling on our way.  We arrived in the afternoon to Muma’s house—a series of stacked apartments belonging to her mother, her brother Juan, and two other aunts, deceptively hidden behind the family mattress store.  We pulled up on the crowded cobblestone street and were greeted by aunts, uncles, cousins and four more dogs.  What a beginning!

That evening, Juan, Carlos, Muma, myself and two Frenchmen who were in the area drove the hour back to Ambato to watch a friend of the family who is a torrero—a bullfighter.  It was my first experience watching the elaborate art, and I admit I almost laughed the first time one of the torreros danced too close and fled behind the protective barrier, closely followed by an angry bull.  It was thrilling though to hold my breath as a more skilled torrero beckoned the beast with a flick of bright fabric and arched his back as the bull charged within inches of it. With each pass, a murmur passed through the crowd…Ooole! Ole! Then came the part I had somehow forgotten about—the ceremonious unsheathing of the sword and skewering of the bull, complete with spurts of red blood. We left after the fifth of six bulls was dragged out of the arena by a team of horses. Read the rest of this entry ?

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