Spectacular Semana Santa

April 10, 2009 at 6:09 pm Leave a comment

So I couldn’t talk my way out of church, but it is just as well. I forgot just how big Semana Santa is in Latin America. This past Sunday was Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. At 8 in the morning, a huge parade wound through the streets of Pespire. Local “actors” dressed as Jesus, his apostles, Mary and her crew, and children acted out the story where (I think) Jesus walked through the streets while hordes of people fanned him with palms. Then, Jesus mounted his colorfully clad mule and paraded through the streets. And that is what happened here. Joyous singing and praying, note the “joyous”. Usually, catholic processions are pretty depressing and disheartening, but not here. We marched to the church, following our parade waving our intricate palm crosses. Mass started at 9:30, half an hour late in typical latin style. The church was packed, and I had the pleasure of standing for all 2 hours. But, it was all worth it. I am now bracing myself for the week to come. There is an “official” schedule of events. And there is a dry law in effect starting this Friday. Did I also mention that the whole country is on vacation this week? The town is inundated the people from the capital visiting their relatives.

 

Another (politically incorrect) traditional festivity took place the other night. While taking my mandatory second shower of the day, I hear my host mom yell “Mire! Las brujas de la Semana Santa estan caminando por las calles” (The witches of Semana Santa are walking through the streets). I quickly dressed to see what the fuss was about. Three men dressed in robes, wigs, and scary masks were walking through the streets scaring children and asking for money and food. What the hell, I said to myself. I asked my mom what was up.

 

-“Oh, of course Kathryn! They are the scary Jews that rose from the dead. They run through the streets looking for Jesus so they can kill him. This is a great tradition during Semana Santa”. 

 

Ohhhh!!! Yea, thanks for clearing that up for me, mom. I was wondering about those Jews. . . . .

 

Let’s just say Latin America lets it all out. They have no mouth filter whatsoever. For example, my mom told me I was “la gordita” again yesterday. Or when my friend got whistled at and solicited by a 4th grader. Or when the worker on the corner says I have nice tits everyday. Or just blatant racism, period. I’m not saying this is better or worse than the states, because I know it still exists there, but nobody here holds back. On the contrary, if you are offered food that you don’t want or don’t like, it is a grave sin to say “no”. You must make up a ridiculous lie saying you are allergic, or you already ate, or you are watching your weight, as not to insult the hostess.  

 

I would like to share with you more Honduran-isms. For example, it is perfectly normal to cut in line, or even push people out of line if you feel like it. This makes me want to scream, but alas, I cannot do a thing.

 

Pointing your finger here is considered rude. If you need to point at something, point with your lips while you are talking.

 

Hondurans also like to drink out of plastic bags. En serio. It’s actually pretty convenient. If you are your friends want to split a liter of Coke, all you need is a few plastic sandwich baggies and straws. Pour the fresco in the bag, tie a knot around the straw, then enjoy! Another popular item in Pespire is called a charamusca. It’s basically a Popsicle in a bag, without the stick. Prepare any type of juice you want, place it in a baggie, tie a knot, then freeze. When you want to eat it, bite a tiny hole in the corner and suck. Bizarre, but it leaves no mess!

 

Wednesday, as a kick off to Semana Santa, we had cultural day party. All of us gringos, our host families, and our teachers got together to share each other’s food, songs, dances, and favorite pastimes. And this how I know how to milk cows. I got up at 5:30 this morning and walked with my mom down to my abuelos house across the river. He has about 20 cows. Of the 20, he milks about 4 or 5 of them every day. However, because they are in the dry season, they only produce about a 5-gallon buckets’ worth. Milking a cow is not easy, and it is kind of gross, but it was fun, none-the-less. He also showed me his $5000 toro that he uses to impregnate his cows. “It’s from Texas”, he said. Go figure.

 

 The rest of cultural day was tiring, but fun and informative! All of us had to explain how to prepare our Honduran recipes and perform skits about American pastimes. Of course, my awesome group did American football (go Steelers), Some of my friends line danced, and others sang “La Bamba” (not very American, right?) In turn, our families performed traditional songs and dances of Honduras. I am a little disappointed because I still haven’t eaten anything too weird here yet, just exotic fruits. 

 

Oh, and for the record, I have had 2 Pittsburgh encounters this week. First, I was reading the local Honduran paper (or should I say trying to read) and saw an article on the shooting that happened this past week were I guess some police officers died. I know, pretty morbid, but mayor Luke Ravenstahl was mentioned too.

 

While I was sitting on my front porch reading that very same paper, I saw a Honduran man walk by wearing a Pens jersey, with Lemieux on the back. I snapped a few pics as proof.    

 

I continue to enjoy it here more and more, despite the heat. My teachers are supportive and encouraging, and my fellow team members are awesome. I couldn’t have asked for a better team. Next week, we will start a water system design for the town we did a topo study of last week. Hopefully it will be feasible. I am actually working on it today. That was my excuse for getting out of the last station of the cross (kind of). Today is Holy Friday, the day Jesus died. The same actors from last week acted out the passion of Christ. Christ carries his cross through the street with his crown of thorns, while the romans beat him. Lovely. It got too hot for me, so I ducked out to come here at write the rest of my blog and work on my project. My mom doesn’t make her own daughters go to church. Sounds vaguely familiar. . . my childhood perhaps? 

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Notes on the pics Palm Sunday

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