Sunday, May 25, 2008

Gran Carnaval!

It's Carnaval week here in La Ceiba! La Ceiba is home to the biggest party in Central America. For the past 7 days, our city has played host to over 100,000 people from all over the world.

Starting last Saturday, each neighborhood in the city has hosted a carnavalcito (little carnival). Perhaps the most popular Carnivalcito is the one in El Sauce. Just down the block from our house thousands of people crowded in the streets. The same quiet 5 block stretch we walk every day took over an hour to navigate! It was shoulder to shoulder people from one end of the street to the other. Stages were set up everywhere. One band had the Chicas Samba group dancing out front. This show at the community event consisted of 4 women in tank tops and underpants shaking their butts for 2 hours to some punta music. Tom really enjoyed it.

We didn't have our camera with us that evening but this YouTube video from last year's El Sauce carnavalcito pretty much sums it up. The streets were lined with homemade games, food and drink stands, and even a hand-cranked swing ride for children!

The week culminated in the Gran Carnaval de San Isidro. We headed downtown in the sweltering heat (well over 100 degrees) and spent the morning shopping at the street vendor booths and watching people clamor for beads. Our carnaval is much like Mardi Gras, except people get beads just for yelling and waving arms. It's not necessary to show any body parts. :)

The parades started around 11am with school bands from all over Honduras. Then it was 150 Harley Davidson motorcycles from all over Central America. Next came the horses. I saw 3 of my students riding horses in the parade. The horses all pranced in a funny tiptoe trot.

Finally, the floats came down the streets carrying women in costumes dancing and throwing beads and other small kids toys.

In an effort to cool off a bit, we headed onto a side street to sit in the shade for a bit. We had been there for just one minute when 2 mariachis rode up on a bike. Tom paid them 100 Lempiras to play us 3 songs. We, and those around us, thoroughly enjoyed the performance!

By the time the parade was over, we headed back into the air-conditioned refuge of our house. We didn't stick around for the all night party in the street (El Sauce x 10) but we heard the celebrations went well into the early morning hours. All in all, it was really fun!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Welcome Teagan!!!

We'd like to welcome Teagan Joseph Mechtenberg to our spaceship earth. We hope he has a great ride!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Honduras by Rail

The railway which runs from La Union to Refugio de Vida Silvestre Cuero y Salado is not the most glamorous in the world, but it may very well be the cutest. The track was built by Standard Fruit in the early 1900s to haul bananas for export. The Standard Fruit rail lines were nationalized in 1993 and the Ferrocarril National de Honduras was born. This is one of the few remaining serviceable lines.
La Union is about 30 km west of La Ceiba, Honduras. The forty minute route (red line, below) links La Union with Cuero y Salado, a spectacular wildlife refuge which provides habitat for jaguars, three-toed sloths, monkeys, crocodiles, and the extremely endangered manatee. I had a great time at the park. But I had an especially great time getting there by train.
Here's the passenger car waiting in the garage before departure:
This is a narrow gauge track, three feet from the inside of one rail to the other. Its narrower than standard gauge, which is the most common gauge in the United States.
A smooth ride:

Here are some pictures I took from the train:
I had fun:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day Out-takes

We had a lot of fun putting our Mother's Day tribute together. Probably too much fun. We got caught up in the spirit of the holiday. Mother's Day is a BIG DAY here in Honduras. We've got a lot of blogging to do this week. Watch out for posts about vegetable drinks and super awesome Honduran hot sauce.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!
We would like to take this opportunity to tell our moms how much we love them. You are both very special women in our lives. We love you so much!

We'd like to share some photos of our moms so our readers can see how beautiful they are. Unfortunately, the only pictures we have of them on our computer are wedding pictures. Luckily, we think that it was a particularly beautiful day for both women.

Dad, Mom, Karine, Tom, Mom

Our moms don't just take care of us, they're moms to many kids.

We were both lucky to gain another mother on July 21, 2007.

They love us unconditionally.

And for that, we are grateful!

Also, we'd like to send a shoutout to the other mothers in our lives- Happy Mother's Day to Anne, Kirsten, Casey, Kristin, Brooke (in 3 more days!), and all you ladies we love who take care of other people!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Honduran Roadshow Volume #1: Tom's Knick-knacks

We brought an extraordinary amount of strange crap to Honduras. Due to my urishiol-induced, heat-aggravated cashew rash (see post) we spent most of last weekend indoors. How bored were we? We were so bored we decided to take pictures of some knick-knacks sitting on a bookcase. Karine interviewed me about these strange objects and this blog is the result. Next week I will be interviewing Karine about our kitchen appliances.

KL: What’s up with all these knick-knacks?
TL: I don't know. I guess they’re just the things you kind of hang on to. Wherever you move, there they are.

KL: What age did your obsession with knick-knacks begin?
I was very young. I suppose it started with stuffed animals. I had Rambo Teddy Bear -- a stuffed bear and Toby Steeringwheel -- a stuffed rabbit. Before that I had binky -- a binky.

KL: Which are your favorites?
TL: The cast iron train and my little tiny train (The Lionelville Express)

KL: Do you know where they came from?
TL: Yeah, I know where all my knick-knacks come from. The Lionelville Express was a gift from my best friend and my girlfriend. They ordered it off of tv. It was attached to a giant alarm clock and [the train] actually went around. The alarm clock is long gone. But I've hung on to the little train.

KL: Why trains?
TL: I’ve always liked trains. Um… trains are great. I don’t know if there’s a real short answer to my train obsession. Omaha, the U.S.A., my family, the Great Plains, taking pictures of trains. They’re cool machines.

KL: Is it important to you that you are the first owner of your knick-knacks?
TL: I’m only the first owner of one of my knick-knacks. My Lionelville Express train.

KL: Let’s talk about some of your other knick-knacks. What are these? (Reaching to touch a piece of paper sticking out of a Alice in Wonderland toothpick holder.)
TL: Don’t touch that! It’s my certificate of authenticity! It goes with Alice. And Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

KL: What are they?
TL: Tweedledee and Tweedledum and Alice. They belonged to my grandmother. She had a lot of knick-knacks. I’ve had these since college but never really looked at them until now. They're kind of scary. I don’t think I want them anymore.

KL: Tell me about the big wooden bird.
TL: It’s really ugly and it was also my grandmother’s.

KL: How about the leprechaun bobblehead?
TL: I got it from a party hosted by Casey Piersma.

KL: How do you feel about other bobbleheads?
TL: I hate all of them.

KL: Any other thoughts about your collections?
TL: I’m not planning on doing any more collecting. I never really meant to have this collection. Some things you just don’t get rid of.

Interview by Karine Lewandowski
Photography by Tom Lewandowski