Friday, March 11, 2016

And, After Another Long Pause, the Story Continues . . .

March 11, 2016

Again a long pause in writing!  It's not for lack of material, but time!  During these last several weeks, I've been spending lots of time and energy making my little rented casita a real home for Lacy, Eleanor, and me.
It's been quite a treat to watch  Vulcan El Fuego, as it's been erupting almost every single day for the last
several months.  This is a shot taking right at sunset, when the lava flow is a little difficult to see.  At times, the entire upper area around the crater is spectacularly glowing, flowing lava in the darkness of the night.
First, we painted all the interior walls "piña colada" yellow, a soft, but happy color.  Then, I had some furniture built - a round table and six chairs for the dining area, along with four comfortable chairs for the living area.  The whole casita (little house) consists of a living- / dining- / kitchen- in one room and one bedroom.  There's a nice bathroom and lovely wall-in closet with all built-in drawers and closet hanging.  I've befriended a fantastic carpenter / painter / fix-it man, Cesar, who's been working almost non-stop for weeks.

After having the dining table and chairs built and delivered, I decided I wanted to turn the set into a spectacular work of art; I found an artist, Leonardo Ricardo, an ex-pat from California, who has also become a good friend and has created a spectacular piece of art - my dining room table.  I shared with him that I like blues and wanted the tabletop to say something about El Fuego.  It's a work in progress, but last Friday I gave my first dinner party, using the new table.
Currently Cesar is prepping the chairs (sanding) and will paint them a midnight blue so
 they won't compete with the tabletop.  Check out the center base and feet of the table.

This is a not-so-representive closeup, but, if you look closely you may see some almost
 invisible 'stripes' representing El Fuego.  And, more easily seen are splotches of an
iridescent orange representing spurts of lava that fly out of the crater to then flow
 down the sides of the volcano.

It's such a fun process - so much more relaxed than when I tried to decorate, work, raise kids, take care of a husband, etc!  Today, Cesar spent lots of time sanding chairs, buying paint and brushes, etc. for painting next week.  We also went to the glass man - all shopping within a couple of blocks of my house(!) - and he cut some pieces of glass to put in a couple of food cabinet doors to minimize the view of foodstuffs while sitting at the table!

See the Guatemala versions of "Kitchen Witches" sitting on the top of the cabinet.  They're "Kitchen Angels!"
I continue to do volunteer work, almost on a daily basis; mostly teaching English right now.  Later I'll be helping to buy equipment and furnish a new surgery center that will be built here in Antigua by one of the wonderful foundations - this one will be performing cleft lip and palate surgeries for patients from all over Guatemala.

On another note:  One of the foundations I work for gave a Venetian Masquerade Gala a couple of weeks ago; the turnout was fantastic and everybody arrived in costume.

Cousin Linda Champagne and I got ourselves all dressed up for the ball.  Costumes were
 created by a wonderfully talented German ex-pat from clothes she buys in the
"Paca" (used clothing that's shipped here from Canada and the US and sold for
practically nothing to the hard-working, albeit poor people of Guatemala).
Both of our costumes probably cost a grand total of $30!!!!
One last note for this post:  We're in the full bloom of Cuaresma - the Lenten Season - Antigua's Semana Santa - Holy Week - is something to be seen, at least once in your life.  There are processions and processions all during the forty days of Lent; this coming Sunday's will be from the church in San Bartolomé Becerra and it will process in front of our little compound.  So, tomorrow night we will be out in the street making an "alfombra" (carpet) for the procession to pass over on Sunday.  I plan to be out with my Guatemalan neighbors in "haciendo penitencia" (doing penance) making a beautiful carpet that will welcome the procession.  Hopefully I'll have some beautiful photos to share.  

For now, here are a few photos I took last year.  These carpets are made out of dyed sawdust, fruits, vegetables, etc.  The work is magnificent, each is unique, and there are literally hundreds of them put together during the whole Lenten season, but during Semana Santa, it's one of the most amazing 'celebrations' in the World.

Such almost unbelievable color, artistry, and detail

A stunning carpet in black, gray, and white

Families, neighbors, and friends spend hours, days, weeks, and months planning and
constructing these masterpieces

All vegetables

Just take a look at the length of this alfombra - it's almost 2 blocks long!