Saturday, October 24, 2009

Folklore Day

A few weeks ago, the elementary school has their Folklore Day. Folklore day here is somewhat similar to the Dia Tipico's that we had in Honduras, but it did have some differences. To start, a little history is needed to understand Paraguayan schooling. For most people in the country, Spanish is not their first language, Guarani is. Guarani is the name of the traditional indians that lived in Bolivia, Paraguay, and northern Argentina when the Spanish took over.

Outside of the big cities, Guarani is the main language of the country. Jesse and I hear Guarani being spoken almost daily by our guard and our maid. However, during the 1930's and 40's, Guarani was viewed as an inferior language, and therefore was banned in the nation's schools. Sometime in the 1970's (my dates may be a bit off) the government realized what a diservice it was doing to its youth, and now, every student has to take a Guarani class as part of their education. It is still viewed as a campesino language, a poor person's langauge, so many of our students don't value the language or its culture.

Fast forward to today, and as a part of the elementary school Guarani program at our school, they have a Folklore Day. This is where each grade level is taught a traditional dance and they wear traditional clothing as well. The girls wear traditional colored skirts, and wear fake hair braids to give the illusion of long hair. The boys wore gaucho clothing with a traditional belt, and the 5th grade boys also got to carry a guompa (my spelling may be off) to simulate a machete to harvest crops with.

The celebration is held for the parents to come and watch, with announcements made in three languages- Guarani, Spanish, and English. As it is the 5th graders last year dancing for Folklore Day, they got to do an extra dance to celebrate. Teachers were also asked to participate, although for my first year, I chose to sit out and just observe the celebration.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Three months in...

This week is our 13th full week here in Paraguay. Every day that I put the date on the board, I'm amazed at how fast our time here has flown. We just finished our first quarter of the school year, had parent-teacher conferences, and have done one really nice vacation so far. There have been some struggles, but overall, I am enjoying my time here and I really like my job. It is a little difficult trying to think of October as spring, but I'm working on it. I do wish we had a few more three day weekends to see more of Paraguay, but what can we do. I've been designated our official trip planner (since I have a little bit less of a teaching load than Jesse), and I've been spending a lot of time planning our upcoming two month vacation. I am really looking forward to spending time with Alex and Caitlin in Chile, Easter Island, and Ecuador; and seeing Dad in Peru. I have a feeling it will be here before we know it. Time, it is a-flying.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Buenos Aires- Recoleta

I realized this afternoon that I hadn't posted on our visit to the Recoleta neighborhood in Buenos Aires. The most famous part of the Recoleta neighborhood is the Recoleta cemetary. This cemetary was amazing, with astonishing architecture for the family crypts. This is where Eva Peron rests with her family, which added to my desire to visit it.
A startlingly beautiful statue.
An example of the architecture. The cemetary was set up with alleys to guide you around.
Eva Peron's gravesite.

Recoleta also has, what is commonly called, a Hippie Market. Here, hippie portenos sell their artistic wares. Jesse and I bought a painting, some earrings (for me), a ring (for him), and some picture frames. We also stumbled upon a live music show going on, so we just sat and listened for awhile.
What may have been Jesse's favorite part of the neighborhood was where we ate lunch. Around the hippie market there are all these outdoor cafes and restaurants. Well, we found a microbrewery among those outdoor patios. We bought a sampler and enjoyed the variety of beers.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Boca Juniors

One of the things that makes the La Boca neighborhood famous is its soccer team Boca Juniors. CABJ (Club Atletico Boca Juniors) is one of the 2 giant teams in Argentina and they have had some pretty famous players and lots of championships over the years. Their stadium called "El Bombonero" (which means chocolate box because it looks like a box of chocolates from above) is only 4 blocks from the touristy street with all the painted houses so we decided to pay it a visit and take a stadium tour.
The tour was only $5 and took us all around the stadium including some of the nicer box seats which felt like they were right on the field, under the stadium and into the visitors locker room, and even onto the corner of the field.

We were also able to take pictures where the players and coaches give press conferences after the games.
The most famous Argentinian of all played his club soccer for Boca Juniors. Of course I had to get my picture next to the bronze statue of Diego Maradona. This other picture is of a giant mural covering an entire wall of the Boca Juniors museum depicting Maradona.
Unfortunately there was no home game while we were there, but the next time I'm in Buenos Aires, taking in a game at the Bombonero will be high on my list of things to do.

La Boca

Buenos Aires is a city with many very distinct neighborhoods. One of the more famous of these neighborhoods is La Boca. It is a neighborhood located next to the port in Buenos Aires which was settled by many immigrants from Italy and Spain. These immigrants worked in the port and used lots of colorful paint to make the barges and ships that they worked with more pleasant to the eyes. When they had leftover paint, they brought it home and painted their houses with it to make the tin and old wood look better too. This tradition led to a beautiful and colorful neighborhood that became popular with tourists.
We wandered around the neighborhood for a while, took some pictures, and picked a place to sit down for lunch after being hounded by what seemed like 50 restaurants offering food and a tango show. We settled on one and had a nice steak lunch while watching the show. Crowd participation is apparently highly encouraged in Argentina because Danielle got pulled up on stage for a little dance as well. Overall Boca was interesting and beautiful but a little touristy and fake as well. Still worth a visit though.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Buenos Aires- The Tango

The tango is a dance that is synonymous with Argentina, especially Buenos Aires. The dance originated there, and has now become a tourist attraction in the city. Restaurants were constantly offering free tango shows during lunch or dinner in the touristy areas, and our hostel advertised tango shows as well.

I thoroughly enjoy theater and dance, and seeing a tango show was high on my to-do in BA list. The six of us booked tickets to a classy tango show and got picked up at our hostel. We got there with plenty of time to spare, and plenty of time to share some good Argentinian wine. Below are some pictures of the show.
My favorite part of the show was when they grabbed certain audience members and added them to the show. Our group was lucky enough to have two members chosen- Molly and Jesse. Jesse actually got whisked away backstage and made part of the act.
Below is a short video we took of the action.