CFFC: Animal Art

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the topic Non-Alive Animals. Of course, any representation of an animal has a real animal in mind as the artist creates it. But the rendition may be very close in appearance to the real animal, or it may be whimsical, or abstract. It all depends on the craftsman’s talent and point of view.

It was hard to choose photos for this post – so many to choose from! Everywhere I go, locally or abroad, there is animal art. Animals have been subjects for every kind of art imaginable for thousands of years…

Such as the first known painting in the world, a painting of Egyptian geese on papyrus at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo,

and the god Horus, usually represented as a hawk, at the Temple of Horus in Edfu, Egypt.

Also at the Egyptian Museum is a throne of King Tutankhamun, whose tomb was not found until 1922, with most of its grave goods intact – it hadn’t been subjected to many tomb robberies!

This elaborate throne contains many symbols and images of gods, such as twin lions on the front. One of ancient Egypt’s sacred symbols was the scarab beetle, depicted in the cartouche on the front of the arm; the hieroglyphics within the cartouche generally are names of kings, so this may have been Tuthankhamun’s. Embracing the throne of either side are the wings of the vulture, a bird considered to be a protector of kings. In this case, he represents the king-god himself, wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.

The ancient Chinese civilization also had many animal representations, one of the most common being the guardian lion. This one is in front of a restaurant, House of Szechwan, in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Generally depicted in pairs, guardian lions stood in front of imperial palaces, tombs, temples, government buildings, and the homes of the wealthy. The concept was to show the emotion of the animal, in this case ferocity, as a symbol of protection.

Deriving from this Chinese custom, there are people today who have a pair of lions as lawn ornaments, like this one in Des Plaines. He might look more ferocious if freshly painted!

Here are another example of a Des Plaines lawn ornament, this cute little bird sitting on an orb.

There were many whimsical animals on display for sale or as decoration in the charming small town of Poulsbo, Washington, north of Tacoma.

In Evanston, Illinois, there is a little known museum called the American Toby Jug Museum, which we discovered during Chicago’s annual Open House in October. Toby Jugs are ceramic figures, usually depicting well known persons, but also animals. The history of the toby jug, or philpot, dates back to 18th century potters in Staffordshire, England and was popularized by colonists in the United States. The top of each toby jug has a spout for pouring, but nowadays, these figurines are primarily for ornamentation or collections.

After the wedding we attended near Poulsbo, Washington, we spent a day in Tacoma before returning to Seattle for our flight home. There is a beautiful Museum of Glass there, which has many objects designed by the famous Dale Chihuly, but there is also a fine collection of glass sculptures by other artists, such as this beautiful horse.

Horses are the subject of many works of art, including statues of famous heroes mounted on horses in many European cities, but I am only including two 2-dimensional renditions, one a drawing of a palomino I drew a few days ago, and another one at a short film display at the Ij (Eye) Museum in Amsterdam.

While in Amsterdam, we visited the Oude Kerk, the oldest building in Amsterdam, founded circa 1213 CE. Under the seats of the choir were unique carvings – some rather bawdy! – including this one of a pig.

Most people love animals, and there are many examples of whimsical animals to delight human sensibilities. In the gardens behind Melk Abbey in Austria are some cute creatures, mostly fantastical combinations of human and animal, but there was this turtle:

In Passau, Germany, which we had visited the previous day while on our Viking European cruise, while walking around town on our own, we came across a dachshund museum! Big and little dachshund statues were in front of it.

Who could resist being delighted by several painted cows in the town across from Mont St-Michel in France? Here is one of them, my personal favorite (I love that bright blue udder!).

Our daughter loves Hello Kitty, and for her bridal shower, Hello Kitty was the theme! I bought these as party favors.

Some animal sculptures are cute,

At Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles, Illinois

but some can be a bit intimidating!…

Giant spider at Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

and some are reminders of favorite movies, such as this groundhog in Woodstock, Illinois, where Groundhog Day was filmed.

Thursday Doors: A Nubian Lodge

Norm’s Thursday Doors is back! I haven’t been anywhere, like most of us. So I went into my archives and found photos of this charming place that we stayed one night at in Abu Simbel City, in southern Egypt. This region, which is today southern Egypt and northern Sudan, was traditionally the home of the Nubian people. Nubia (also known as “Kush” in ancient times) was often fought over, conquered and reconquered by the Egyptians while the Nubians rebelled for independence; in the end, Nubia became a part of Egyptian society while retaining some local cultural elements. Egypt even had a few Nubian pharaohs.

Traditional Nubian villages were colorful collections of domed houses. They used dome structures because clay bricks made from the mud produced by the Nile’s annual inundation were conducive to this architectural style.  Also the domes kept their houses cool in the hot weather. The men painted the house interiors white, while the women were in charge of painting the exteriors and they chose colorful pigments – blues, oranges, yellows, etc.

Here are some photos of Nubian-style buildings, taken from our tour bus as we drove through Abu Simbel City.

Many Nubian villages were displaced from their land with the building of the Aswan High Dam and had to be relocated, so in the years from 1960-1967, they were moved to a remote area in the desert north of Aswan.  The Egyptian government provided them with houses made of concrete, with flat roofs. This caused the interior of the homes to be very hot in the summer.  Furthermore, these houses were inadequate because of their size – while previously Nubian families enjoyed houses with nine rooms, they were now forced to live in 4-room houses shared by two families.  Crowding combined with the heat caused sanitary conditions to deteriorate.  Nubian children began to attend Egyptian schools in which the language of instruction was Arabic.  As fewer Nubians grew up reading and writing their native language, their culture threatened to die out.

In recent decades, the Nubian people have sought a revival of their culture and their written language.

The Eskaleh Lodge belongs to a musician and his wife who wanted to share their culture with the world, and is decorated with Nubian arts and crafts. The lodge is built in traditional Nubian style, characterized by domed roofs and archways. The domed ceilings keep the rooms cool. The lodge is a series of hallways and courtyards flanked by rooms.

An interior door admitting entrance for staff only.
This is one of the entrance gates to the lodge.

There is native artwork on display in hallways and public areas.

Traditional Nubian music is heard in the public areas of Eskaleh Lodge. A professor who came to give us a lecture about Nubian history and culture played for us on a mandolin-type instrument.

Most interesting was an instrument called a kisir. This 5-string harp-like instrument became katar (something like this) in Arabic, and in Spain it became “guitar.” The kisir is played by moving one’s fingers on and off the strings as the other hand strummed, much like how the guitar is played today.

Abu Simbel City is a colorful town in which the Nubians have begun to construct their buildings in the traditional way and return to some of their customs. Until recently, few tourists visited the area because it was so remote or took day trips from Aswan (about 2 hours each way) to see the Abu Simbel temples. That is why the Eskaleh Lodge is so important – there are still few lodgings in Abu Simbel and the lodge is a beautiful example of the revival of Nubian culture.

APAW: People at Work in the Middle East

Nancy Merrill’s weekly A Photo a Week challenge has the topic of Work.

On our trip last year to Egypt and Israel, we had the opportunity to photograph and meet many people at work.

In Egypt, we witnessed several craftsmen working at their craft:


Crate maker on the island of Fares – he is the only person left in Lower Egypt who makes these mango crates by hand, which are greatly in demand. Here he works with one of the women in our group in making a crate.


A weaver in Aswan – many of our group members bought one of his beautiful scarves!


A snake charmer in Fares! I captured this scene with my zoom lens from a bus window – I didn’t get anywhere near those cobras!

We also encountered agricultural workers and fishermen on the Nile.


A young farmworker on his donkey on Besaw Island.

In Israel, we encountered more cosmopolitan workers.


Our guide, Hani, explains the architectural features of ancient arches in Jerusalem.


A bartender and restaurant worker in Tel Aviv


A jewelry maker at the Israel Diamond Center in Tel Aviv




FOTD: Miniature Flowers

The other day a group of women and I attended an annual show of miniatures at a nearby hotel. There were miniatures of all kinds – houses, shops, restaurants, etc. One room had a display of miniatures to view, and another larger room had things for sale. I saw these amazing miniature flowers – all created painstakingly by hand. So I decided to use this picture for my contribution to Cee’s FOTD 11/10/19, even though the flowers aren’t real.
Here are a few other photos from the show.


Each room in a house was made inside a tea cup!


Hats for sale



Journey to Egypt, Part 18: The Crate Maker of Fares Island

December 31, 2018

Our dahabeya Aida docked this morning at the island of Fares. We were going to see a local craftsman, the last crate maker in Upper (southern) Egypt. Transportation to the crate maker’s home was via “tuk-tuk,” two passengers per vehicle!
We bumped and jostled along the dusty roads of Fares village, observing our surroundings through fringed open sides.
We could peek at our driver through a heart-shaped cut in the material in front of us.

Our little caravan of tuk-tuks finally arrived at the crate maker’s home and were taken around to the back of the house.DSC_0416
We saw piles of date palm reeds, the raw material of the hand-made crates, which were stacked up behind the craftsman’s work space.


The crate maker’s work space

Mohammed (the crate maker – not to be confused with our guide of the same name!) has his reeds shipped to him from elsewhere, from mature date palms (at least a year old). The reeds have to be dried but no longer than 20 days. The dried reeds are strong, yet pliable for splitting and cutting holes in them.


One of the crate maker’s assistants

Mohammed could not stop his work as he talked to us – he was working on an order for 20,000 crates to hold mangoes, which are grown in this area. These will be shipped to Cairo, and some of them exported. The crates can be different sizes and last 7-10 years.

Mohammed himself is 58 and has been doing this work for over 40 years.  We asked if his children are learning this craft. He told us his children are in school – he doesn’t want them to learn the craft, which taxes the body and presumably doesn’t pay very well.


First, he cuts the reeds into the lengths needed.


Mohammed uses pieces that have already been cut at the correct length to measure other pieces.


He then cuts the section of reed lengthwise with a scythe, which requires great precision.

Mohammed uses both his hands and his feet to make the crates. Machines cannot do this job with the same precision. People who practice this craft don’t stay in it long, due to the position of their body, sitting on the ground for long periods, which is why it is a dying craft.


Mohammed steadies the section of reed while he uses a large nail and makeshift hammer to cut holes along its length.


As  he works, he answers our questions which are translated by our guide Mohamed.

However, he does have assistants, so between them they can produce 5 million crates a year. He himself makes 150 crates a week.


An assistant awaits instructions against a backdrop of date palms.

Mohammed could not stop his work as he talked to us – he was working on an order for 20,000 crates to hold mangoes, which are grown in this area. These will be shipped to Cairo, and some of them exported. The crates can be different sizes and last 7-10 years.


Sample of one of Mohammed’s more elaborate creations, which was passed around among us.

Mohammed uses both his hands and his feet to make the crates. Machines cannot do this job with the same precision. People who practice this craft don’t stay in it long, due to the position of their body, sitting on the ground for long periods, which is why it is a dying craft.


As  he works, he answers our questions which are translated by our guide Mohamed.

Mohammed himself is 58 and has been doing this work for over 40 years. We asked if his children are learning this craft. He told us his children are in school – he doesn’t want them to learn the craft, which taxes the body and presumably doesn’t pay very well.


These piles of reed sections are ready for assembling the crate – the pieces with holes drilled in them will anchor the side pieces (the narrower pieces in the other pile) that fit through the holes.


An assistant awaits instructions against a backdrop of date palms.

SONY DSCHowever, he does have assistants, so between them they can produce 5 million crates a year. He himself makes 150 crates a week. Because he was kind enough to invite us to see him at work, three women from our group became his temporary assistants!


Mohammed hands Lizz some materials…


…and shows her what to do.

Through demonstration and imitation,…


Assembling the base of the crate

…Lizz, Kathy and Michelle were able to be efficient crate producers, and with their help, Mohammed was able to finish twice as many crates in the time we were there!


The vertical pieces are fit through the holes on the horizontal pieces.

12 horizontal pieces and 4 vertical pieces form the frame.
They’re almost finished as Mohammed fits in the bottom cross pieces.
Michelle takes over to help make the next crate.


Michelle slides a horizontal piece through two verticals to construct the frame.


Photo op! Mohammed will not actually have Michelle make the lengthwise cut!


Michelle helps finish a frame.

A small crate with a handle was given to Lizz as a gift for being a great assistant! Everyone was given an ankh made of date palm reeds.
Kathy was the last volunteer.


Kathy hammers a length of vertical piece into a hole.

Two of the finished crates!

We thanked the craftsman and his assistants and family and said good-bye, then we headed back to our tuk-tuks for the ride back to where Aida was moored.  As we approached the pier on the river, I saw a snake handler with several cobras! (Fortunately, we were some distance away; I took this photo with my telephoto lens!)

Getting Our Kicks Standing on a Corner and a Giant Jack Rabbit (Route 66 Day 4, Part 1)

June 10, 2018                           Sedona to Gallup via Winslow & Holbrook, AZ

We left Sedona this morning, heading north toward Flagstaff and back onto Route 66.


The iconic Bell Rock, near the southern end of Sedona, rises up in its orange sandstone beauty.


I don’t know the name of this rock formation, but it is at the northern end of Sedona.

We passed the exit for Meteor Crater (I-40 Exit 233) because we had been there before (If you have never been to Meteor Crater, it is well worth a visit – quite a spectacular round depression in the middle of the desert. I have included the link above.)

Meteor Crater

(Photo downloaded from the Meteor Crater website).

…and continued on to Winslow, Arizona.


Entering Winslow on Route 66, this sculpture is one of the first things you see. Falling Meteor #2 was created by Jerry Peart and donated to the people of Winslow.

…made famous by the Eagles’ song Take It Easy: “I’m standin’ on the corner in Winslow, Arizona…”  Of course, Winslow has capitalized on this fame, with an entire area surrounding the corner of 2nd St. (Route 66) and Kinsley Ave. dedicated to tourist traps, eateries and photo opps!20180610_132659.jpg
DSC_0549DSC_0550DSC_0552On the now-famous corner, there is a life-sized statue of a young man with his guitar standing in front of a life-sized mural showing the “girl in a flatbed Ford” in a window’s reflection. 20180610_132218.jpg
In 2016, a bronze statue of Glen Frey (Eagles co-founder) was added after his untimely death earlier that year.DSC_0551


The corner property at 2nd & Kinsley was donated for use as a park by the Kaufman family, who have lived in Winslow for 5 generations.

Bricks have been donated to raise funds for the restoration of the mural.
Down the street, there is a walkway lined with commercial businesses where the “world’s smallest church” is located.


15 miles east of Winslow (if on I-40, it is exit 269 at 3386 Old Hwy 66) is the Jack Rabbit Trading Post. It was opened in 1949, and the owners, in order to make their shop stand out from hundreds of others, placed “Jack Rabbit” signs up to 1,000 miles away which told how many miles it was to the shop. When you get there, there’s a huge sign that says “Here It Is!”20180610_140652d
Inside this store one can find almost anything related to Route 66 as well as fine Indian jewelry and crafts and other unusual souvenirs.

I ended up buying four small kachinas to add to my (growing) collection!  Outside the shop stands a huge fiberglass rabbit with a saddle – kids, get up and ride on him! It makes a fun photo opp!20180610_140427d
The façade of the shop has weathered murals featuring Southwestern Native American designs…

…and this jack rabbit mosaic, on the ground in front of the main entrance.

Leaving the Jack Rabbit Trading Post, it is only a short distance to Holbrook, with another of only 3 remaining Wigwam Motels. Of course, we didn’t stay there because we had stayed at the one in San Bernardino and it was still mid-afternoon. However, weary travelers can find the Wigwam Motel of Holbrook, Arizona (I-40 Exit 285 & 286) at 811 W. Hopi Dr. (Junction of Hwy 180 and Historic Route 66). The price is right and it is a unique experience to stay in one of the last of this dying chain!

In the Petrified Forest National Park, 25 miles east of Holbrook, is the Painted Desert Inn. Because of the beauty of this inn and the national park, I took many photos, so I will publish it in a separate post.


Irkeepus Cultural Boma

Feb. 7, 2018

In the afternoon, six of us visited a Maasai village where tourists are welcome, the Irkeepus Cultural Boma. This community makes money from tourists: $20 to take any photos you want and be shown around, encouragement to buy their crafts, and donations for their school.

811The village, or “boma” (compound) consists of one large extended family: the chief, his 15 wives and about 70 children and grandchildren. A total of 86 people live there. Each wife has her own house. The children are welcome in any house and treat all the wives as their “mothers.” Maybe the relationship is more like aunts. Our guide, probably the best English speaker there, was the son of wife #4. He led the tour: first there was a dance we were all invited to join in on – the women adorned us with necklaces – which consisted of everyone standing in a row holding hands, bending our knees and moving our feet to the beat of the song, which we tried to sing with them – it was repetitive. Every so often one of the men would jump high into the air – impressive!




SONY DSCThe second demonstration was to show us how they make fire. Their first attempt at this was not successful so they had to start again. The first step is to rub a stick against a stone with depressions in it until it sparks. Then they put dried grass on it and finally breathe on it very slowly and gently (pole-pole*) to coax the fire out.
2-7 Maasai fire demonstration1

2-7 Maasai fire demonstration5
Our guide’s (and everyone’s in the village) native language is Maasai, which is oral – not written. In school he learned to read and write in Swahili (his second language) and English (his third language). After he finished high school, he returned to the village.

2-7 fence made of nettles & acacia thorn branches-Maasai compound

This fence of stinging nettles and thorn branches surrounds the compound. It’s very effective at keeping wild animals out!

The community has 40 heads of cattle, as well as goats and sheep. A man’s wealth is measure by how many cattle he has and David thinks the chief has more than 40. Bride price starts at 4 head of cattle and can go higher. They use their animals for meat, milk and milk products (such as yogurt and to a lesser extent, cheese). They also drink goat’s and sheep’s milk. That’s about all they eat except for fruit they can get from local trees.

2-7 cow shed & storage shed

Cow shed and storage shed

The huts are round with a curved entrance, a bit like the beginning of a spiral, because, we were told, it keeps the wind from getting in – the wind is strong at this high altitude on the crater rim. The man showing Dale and I the house told us to be careful when entering  because the inner wall of the entrance had been freshly plastered with cow dung! They have to do this about every 3 months to replace the dung that has dried – they strip this off and apply fresh dung (and there were several cow pies in the yard outside the compound!). The dry dung they strip off is then used for fuel.

2-7 Dale & Katy in front of Maasai house

Dale and I standing in front of the hut we were shown into – we are of average height, which shows how small the house is.

Inside there’s a fire pit for cooking and keeping warm but no vent in the ceiling, as I would expect, having seen several types of Native American houses. He pointed out a tiny vent hole in a bedroom wall. Still, the smoke hung in the air. The guide said the smoke is good for getting rid of insects. Apparently the fire is extinguished when the family goes to bed. The smoke fills the hut only when no one is there. It clears out the bugs so the family can sleep.837
The hut was very small and dark – we had to use cellphone flashlights. There are two bedrooms side by side, used primarily for sleeping. They lay soft branches and leaves on the floor and cover it with a cow hide. Some other small rags were in one of the rooms – to use as pillows, perhaps? Or a blanket for a young child.

Most activities are conducted outside, which is why they don’t need much inside their house. The boys love to play soccer in the yard. Girls help their mothers make crafts with beads and wire.
Children of both sexes attend school. The elementary school is an adobe structure outside the compound walls.
2-7 elementary school at Maasai village
20 children from the village and 20 from a neighboring village attend school here. The community is proud of its school, which they built themselves, funded with donations from visitors.  Although they value education, when the boys get a little older they are allowed to get out of school to herd the cattle if they want to.
2-7 blackboard at school-Maasai village
The one-room school has rows of benches with table surfaces attached as desks. There were many adults and children inside; the adults were having a village meeting. We met a couple of the teachers, who greeted us warmly, especially when we told them we had also been teachers.2-7 teachers at Maasai school
On the back wall were the children’s drawings of animals, each one labeled with its Swahili name. on one wall was an ABC chart using syllables, like we teach Spanish to primary kids! The blackboard in the front had a lot written on it. At a desk in the corner sat an administrator and a secretary, both men from the village. They were there because of the meeting.
2-7 children in school at Maasai village
A group of small children clustered together at desks behind two teachers. They were shy until I held up my hand for a “high 5” and they all knew what it was – is high-5 universal? They extended their little palms for me to high-5 them. (I found out the Maasai handshake is actually a version of this – you touch the palm of the other person but don’t grasp their hand.) Then I did a fist bump and the kids all know that too and wanted to “fist bump” with me!  That’s how I broke the ice with them. Then they all sang two songs, the second a version of the ABC song – halfway through it diverts into some other words, perhaps the Swahili alphabet.

As we were leaving, I extended a fist bump to one of the teachers, telling him we had learned it from our president (meaning Obama, who was familiar to them). One of our group members reminded me he wasn’t our president anymore. I replied, “I know, but I wish he were.”
The people had adorned a fenced-in area with all their craft items. I liked the little animals made with beads and wire and decided to buy a lion since we had seen many lions today. I had the lion in my hand when I was at the school. I showed it to the children and said, “A lion, see?” Then I made a roaring sound, which made them laugh.
Perhaps $35 was too much to pay, and I could have bargained, but I didn’t. These people needed the money – their life was hard and they worked hard from a young age. There was a donation box at the school, so Dale put all his leftover euro coins in it!2-7 beaded lion I bought from Maasai
I have read that 85% of Tanzanians are poor and I’m sure that is true for the Maasai who live traditionally. Yet financial poverty is not total poverty: their possessions are few but they have their cultural traditions and when they look out at the countryside where they live – that vast country of green, gentle hills and huge sky, where one can admire giraffes, zebras, or gazelles that pass by, they can be sure that, in fact, in some ways their life is very rich. The beauty of nature is all around them, they live in harmony with it, they are surrounded by loved ones, and are comfortable in their traditions.


The green countryside near the village

Money, of course, is necessary also – to buy materials to build schools, to send their children to high school, and to buy supplemental food products, among other things. It’s unavoidable – so if we could help by putting money into their community to help them buy what they need, I’m glad for it.841


*pole-pole: Swahili word meaning “slowly-slowly” but with the connotation of “gently” or “carefully” as well.


CFFC: Turtle Time

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week continues with the alphabet: T – Needs to have two T’s anywhere in the word.

Last year, a long-time elderly member of my church passed away.  A memorial service was held at the retirement home where she had been living for several years.  On the back table was her extensive collection of turtles – she had all types of turtles that she had bought or was given throughout her adult life. Each guest was invited to pick one or two turtles to take home. I added them to the two turtles I already had, purchased in Mexico.

The 1st picture is the four turtles. The 2nd is a video of me playing the turtle flute!


The following are pictures from my Costa Rica scrapbook, which I made after a month-long trip there in 2004 with my son, Jayme. An optional excursion was a weekend trip to Tortuguero National Park on Costa Rica’s east coast. It is named after the turtles who migrate back to its beaches to lay their eggs. At the time of year we were there – July – there were no turtles, just a turtle-shaped swimming pool!20180105_122217




I tried to minimize the glare while taking photos of these pages, since the pages don’t fit on my scanner! As you can see, I used to spend a lot of time on scrapbooking (my Costa Rica trip takes up two albums!). I don’t do it anymore because my pictures are all digital. However, I do miss it – it was creative and fun to work on with other scrappers.

Visiting Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo & an Argentinian restaurant

November 18, 2016

After our visit to MAC-USP, Dale and I crossed the bridge over the busy thoroughfares below, to reach Ibirapuera Park and more art museums!

There was something called the Bienal – the 32nd biannual art exposition – housed in one of the park’s buildings, very near the ramp that extended over the streets to MAC-USP on the other side.

There was a lot of really interesting artwork on display, much of it inspired by Brazil’s indigenous peoples and natural environment.  To the right of the entrance, a lot of tall stalks painted in natural colors evoked a forest.


20161118_130144In the middle of that part of the hall was a replica of an indigenous house – an oval “mud” hut with a roof made of thatched palm leaves.

20161118_130207 Stepping inside, we had to duck, for the doorway was too low for most adults.  In the middle of the hut was a circular raised pit, with four carvings of animals representative of native species, including a turtle and a tamanduá (anteater).


20161118_130359Against the curved walls were pieces by native artists which I found fascinating, beautiful renditions of Brazilian folk art!


This kind of boat is used by fishermen and is called a jangada.


These curved hats are typical of the leather hats worn by cowboys in the Northeast. A general term for these men is cangaceiros.


Hints of myth and religion…


Bumba-meu-bói costume – in the Northeast during carnaval (known in the U.S. as Mardi Gras) two people get into these bull costumes, one in front, one in back, and parade in the street. It’s a type of dance performed with typical music of the sertão – the rural arid interior of Northeast Brazil.

20161118_130619I could have lingered there longer, but Dale had taken a panoramic video and was now beckoning me to go.  He was getting hungry and where was the restaurant that signs promised?

We looked at a few other exhibits while searching for the restaurant,  including a circle of potted plants and their role in planting and harvesting.



20161118_131703We ended up having to walk completely around the outside of the building to find the café – not really a restaurant.  Perhaps the restaurant was closed.

We entered the café from a rear entrance and down a hall covered with advertising posters from previous years’ biennials. With the limited menu, we decided to have just a snack – I ordered us two quiches and two Guaraná Zeros. (Guaraná is a Brazilian soft drink made with the guaraná, a type of berry. It is tangy and refreshing! But we are watching our diet, so we ordered the “Zeros” – meaning no sugar!)

There was another art museum (MAM) in the park but instead of spending time there,


Facade of MAM (Museum of Modern Art)

we headed across the park to the Afro Brasil museum, but when we approached the entrance we saw a crowd of several school groups lingering outside – it would be crowded and nosiy, so we decided not to go in.

While we had been looking for that museum, we had passed a couple of statues, some modern sculptures,


Ibirapuera Park


132_3820and a low white domed building with round whited-out windows – it looked like an alien spaceship! In fact, we think it was the planetarium or possibly the “Oca” listed on the map, which also contained some art on display.  We did not go in.

I think this is the planetarium at Ibirapuera Park.

Interesting trees

pândano tree

Walking away from the Afro Brasil museum, we followed main paths that circled the park, where lots of kids on bicycles passed us in noisy groups – including three girls who passed us several times; Dale thought they were lost but I laughed and said they didn’t act like they were lost – they were just having a good time riding back and forth!

Mural behind palm and flowering trees

Mural on another building (unused, it looked like- there were abandoned shopping carts alongside it) behind palm and flowering trees

We passed the edge of a lake and in spite of the uneven path and some garbage floating in the water near the shore, it was peaceful there. I stepped off the path to stand on the bank.


We stepped off the trail to stand on the bank, where I took this picture.

But we returned to the main path with its walkers, bicyclists and skateboarders.  There was a restroom, so we each went into our respective sides.  There was a slight odor and the toilets didn’t have seats – I had to gingerly lower my bottom onto the rim – and once there, realized there was no toilet paper!

Colorful bathroom walls

Although stinky and deteriorating, the restrooms were colorfully painted.

Good thing I had packages of Kleenex – I threw the tissue into the little wastebasket next to the toilet. Ugh!  Leaving the stall, I went to wash my hands and observed some girls coming in, who pulled paper out of a large round dispenser.  Each of them tore off a piece which they took with them into the stalls.  So that was the toilet paper! I looked around for something to dry my hands on and saw an employee with thick packets of paper towels loading them into the paper towel dispenser.  I murmured something vague as I grabbed one off the top of the pile before she closed the dispenser.

TIP:  If you are visiting Ibirapuera Park, DON’T use these outdoor johns – the restrooms inside exhibit buildings are cleaner!!


Exercise station – these are scattered throughout the park.

You find artwork in the most unexpected places!

We found art in the most unexpected places!

More public art

My legs were getting tired so we sat down on a bench to rest.  Dale pointed to one of the paved paths which seemed to lead into a dark area, but he was convinced we should take that route to get back to the bridge.  I was opposed at first, saying it was dangerous but then I saw a couple of people walking and bikes whizzing in and out.  He was right – taking that route led us to Portão 4 where we exited the park and walked over the bridge over the busy thoroughfares.


We went back to the apartment in Vila Mariana and rested, and decided where to go for dinner.  I found an Argentinian restaurant, Dr. Tche Parilla de la Villa, that was not too far away, so we went there around 7 pm.  Hardly any customers were there – but for Brazilians, it was fairly early.  I highly recommend this restaurant – it was excellent!


On the menu were a variety of cuts of beef – I knew a couple of them, but not all.  The waiter told us one order was enough for two, so we ordered bife de chorizo which, contrary to what the name implies in Spanish, has nothing to do with sausage.  It was, in fact, a very tender and lean cut of beef, which I ordered medium but for me it could have been cooked just a tad longer.

Still, it was excellent and came with chimichurri sauce (picture on the right above) and pico de gallo. The sauces came first, along with the bread, so I heaped them on the rolls first.  I had ordered suflê de batata, which I thought would be something like mashed potatoes but in fact were irregularly elongated potato puffs, hollow inside.  The meal also came with broccoli which had been marinated in garlic and seasoned.  We each had a tropical caipirinha (Dale)/caipiroska (me).

The waiter was very solicitous, the service was great.  We had plenty of leftovers which we brought back to the apartment and put into our little refrigerator.

(Note: All pictures of the restaurant were downloaded from Google Images.)

Ukrainian Memorial: Our last sightseeing excursion in Curitiba

November 16, 2016

Carlos, D. Lais, Dale and I went the Ukrainian Memorial, our last sight-seeing site in Curitiba.  It is a park within the larger Tingui Park, surrounded by forest and on the grounds is a replica of an old Ukrainian Orthodox church and a little gift shop. The church is a replica of the Church of St. Michael the Archangel and was constructed at the end of the 19th century by Ukrainian immigrants  in the Serra do Tigre, in Marechal Mallet, Paraná. The architectural style is Byzantine, with a bronze onion dome cupola and external bell tower.


The Ukrainian Memorial: center, the replica of a church , to the left is the bell tower; on the right, a cross in stone is the Holodomor monument and to the right of it, partially hidden by trees, is the gift shop.

Near the entrance to the park is a small memorial to the Holodomor, the genocide of Ukrainians by Stalin’s politically engineered famine, which killed 3-10 million people, according to an informational poster. The genocide through man-made famine was carried out in 1932-33 in which one fifth of the rural population of Ukraine perished. Over a third of these were children. Besides taking farmers’ lands and goods, Stalin also attempted to eliminate the Ukrainian culture and language (in this, fortunately, he did not succeed). The memorial, a replica in granite 1.8 x 1.4 meters of the original Holodomor memorial in Kiev, was created by Elvo Benito Damo, a sculptor from Paraná.


In the shop, the shopkeeper said it was OK to take pictures and she was very friendly.  She asked where we were from, we talked about the weather and admired the things she had for sale.  I was trying to decide whether to buy a picture frame or a hexagon-shaped pen holder.  Lais then insisted on buying the picture frame for me, and I bought the pen holder for myself, as well as an edible Christmas memento. The shopkeeper explained what the different designs on the items meant.

Matruskas (nesting dolls)

These woven items are made with straw and the designs have special meaning.

Ukrainian crafts for sale

I wandered into the church, which was decorated with religious icons in frames with embroidered scarves draped over them.  There was also a cabinet full of beautifully painted eggs called pessankas, for which the Ukrainians are famous, each one with some meaning in its design.  There was a nice poem embroidered on a cloth with a translation in Portuguese.  The Ukrainians, like the Russians, use the Cyrillic alphabet.





A large metal egg-shaped sculpture stood in the yard and next to it was the bell tower, a small building with a lookout on the upper level.  This whole area had suddenly filled with a group of middle school kids from a school, all dressed in their uniforms of a white shirt embroidered with their school’s logo, and dark pants. Their school was in Blumenau, (in the state of Santa Catarina, to the south of Paraná), I read on one of them.  I didn’t get the name of the school but someone told me it was a Jewish school.

Carrying the plastic bags with my wrapped purchases, I climbed up the stairs too and looked around.  When most of the kids had vacated the area around the pessanka sculpture, I took a closer look and snapped a few pictures.

As we were getting back in the car, it started to rain again!  Once again, good timing!

That evening, we packed, because the next day we would have to say good-bye to our friends and depart for São Paulo.