Thursday, February 22, 2007

¡Carnaval en Ocozocuatla!

I am once again faced with the dilemna of wanting to describe an amazing experience and feeling like no words I could conjure would do it justice.

Disclaimer aside, I will humbly attempt to describe what I saw of the carnaval.

I went to Ocozocuatla on Sunday afternoon as my friend Tomas told me he is dancing in the carnaval. While still on the bus, the streams of people heading toward Centro told me that this is a serious event. I was not mistaken. The main square was thronged with people and processions of spectacularly costumed 'para chicos' who danced around to the festive music of those oversized wooden zylophones (see previous post). Before I get to the costumes, I need to set the scene. In the crowd, many people were flinging talcum powder, confetti or other substances wildly onto everyone near them (Visine should have been the official sponsor of the event.) Others had cans of that fake snow which they were generously spraying into the crowd or the faces of total strangers. Fortunately I had cleaned my glasses just before coming.

And then there were the 'para chicos'. No one I know seems to be really sure what 'para chicos' are, but they are part of every parade and celebration in this area. The costumes ranged from breathtaking to completely surreal. Every square centimetre of their bodies were covered in some garish but beautiful decoration. They had layers and layers of brightly coloured material, bells, flowers, necklaces of chiclet boxes and of course those unbelievable masks that are both effeminate and disproportionate. Accessories included guns, alarm clocks, dead animals (stuffed, I think), telephones, whips and my friend Heather's used lufa (really - I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried). The complexity of the costumes and the fact that they could somehow dance around in them for hours was astonishing, but what left me speechless (a rare occurrence) was the set of para chicos in Snow White costumes. Salvador Dali would have been shocked. I actually don't have a picture because I was rendered unable to move at the sight of them (true story).

The part of the events that I witnessed seemed to be a series of parades of the various groups of para chicos. There were booths with food and games and probably many more things I didn't see, but I enjoyed myself immensely. After a couple hours of being at the event in Centro, my friend Mauro invited me to his place for lunch and we hung out there for the afternoon. Mauro presented me with a para chico mask as a momento. Even without it, I am sure that the days events won't be forgotten anytime soon.

The final picture is one of Tomas, a PE teacher at the school. He is the one carrying Heather's lufa. She discarded it several months ago and he retrieved it from her garbage and has had it ever since. This is actually the second blog it has appeared in and it seems as if Andy Warhol's fifteen minutes of fame is coming true for discarded shower items.

By the way, the entire event takes place to honour a saint in the Catholic Church. No one I spoke to knew who he was.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Semana Cultural

This week was Culture Week at ASFC. Each grade chose a country (or as it turned out, a region of Chiapas) and the teachers taught about the country while the parents organized a booth with food, photos, displays and more. There were different workshops, a play, a book fair and other events during the week. A dance group and a choir concluded the event on Friday afternoon.

If you hadn't guessed yet, Rocio and I chose Egypt. Actually I wanted to chose some obscure country like Kazakhstan, but everyone thought I should do Egypt as I had lived there.

The 'type A' side of me (OK, it is most of me when I am teaching) kept wanting to get back to teaching the curriculum as I am required to complete one book every month and it is difficult even when I don't lose a whole week. But it was a nice week and I am sure the kids were happy to have a break from the routine.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Puerto Arista

Last weekend was a long weekend and I made the long awaited trip to the ocean. It was a very peaceful time and I will find myself back there again very soon. The most spectacular feature of Puerto Arista was actually the sand. To coin an instant cliche, it was as if God was an overzealous kindergarten teacher with an unlimited budget for glitter. The sand sparkled beautifully and every wave left behind a line of sparkly sand only to be washed away the next time.

I will try to sum up my time spent in Puerto Arista with a point form list because nothing I could write would do the time justice anyway.

long walks on the beach
chasing crabs that do an incredible jump through the air to turn
body surfing / getting pummeled by massive waves
ceviche de camarones / cerveza
seeing about one quarter of my students
body surfing / getting pummeled by massive waves
ceviche de pescado / cerveza
trying (unsuccessfully) to photograph glittery sand
BBQ with families from my class at a gorgeous beach house
body surfing / getting pummeled by massive waves
more ceviche / cerveza
teaching some teenage guys how to body surf (get pummeled by waves)
other kinds of seafood / cerveza
and much more

** I have been extremely busy with work and ESL groups as well as much more active socially lately. This is why I am not posting as often. I will try to find more time for the blog.

Friday, February 02, 2007

A Mystery

These guys that are posted outside a relatively ubiquitous branch of pharmacies are a mystery to me. Ninety-eight percent of the time they are dancing furiously in a repetitive fashion that is vaguely robotic. The repetition, speed and unceasing nature of their dancing has always made me think the are just big mechanical dancing machines made to look like overweight pharmacists. Now and then they seem almost as if there is a person inside and I was thinking about that today as I approached another one of these crazy, overweight, dancing robot pharmacists. It blew me away by seeming to give me his full attention and then putting his hand out to shake mine. There was no room for doubt. This one clearly had a person inside. When I went back to take a photo, it posed. The nightmares will begin in three . . two . . . one . . . .

In other news, we had another parade in my neighborhood. I am sure it was probably honoring yet another saint (there seem to be a few), but I forgot to ask someone the significance.