April Squares: Bright and Whimsical

These whimsical animals were part of a sculpture garden next to an elegant restaurant in Antigua, Guatemala, and I think they are perfect for Becky’s April Bright Squares.

Antigua was part of an optional tour during our 2017 cruise through the Panama Canal. We crossed from east to west, and made several stops along the western coastal ports of Central America.

After touring the historic center, our tour bus took us on a narrow winding road up a hill, past the rich part of town. At the very top of the hill was a cultural center, Santo Domingo del Cerro, and restaurant called The Golden Fork.  This is where we had lunch and afterward had some free time to shop at craft vendors or wander the grounds which contained interesting artwork by local artists, including various colorful animal sculptures – a rabbit, monkeys, snails, crocodiles, horses, and merry-go-round horses. 

Monday Window: Windows With Grates

For Ludwig’s Monday Window Challenge, I am looking back at a cruise we took to the Panama Canal, stopping at several Central American Pacific ports on the way back. All these windows have grates. One of them, however, was taken in Jerusalem last year.

León, Nicaragua
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Antigua, Guatemala
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The purple sashes were there because it was Holy Week.KODAK Digital Still Camera
Actually, I think these windows have shutters, not grates.
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Todos Santos, Mexico
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Jerusalem, Israel
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CFFC: Double-U

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge continues its alphabet with the letter W. The requirements are that the word starts with w and has at least two vowels.

Windows with wrought iron bars (Antigua, Guatemala)KODAK Digital Still Camera
willow trees (Chicago Botanic Gardens)125

wheels (Bicycle with folding chairs, Quebec City, Canada)20171006_142915 (3)

warhead or weapon (Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, South Dakota)20170531_112548

wastebasket (Scandic Hotel, Copenhagen, Denmark)100_0041

wood (Ketchikan, Alaska)KODAK Digital Still Camera

writing in chalk, (July 4, 2017 in Arlington Heights, Illinois)20170704_110527.jpg

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WPC: Weathered

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge this week is Weathered.  Krista says that she looks at “these relics from the past and wonder what they’ve been witness to over the years…They’ve survived decades of sun, wind, rain, storms, and even floods.”

Here are my interpretations of weathered:

My mother on her 96th birthday:
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An old building at The Grove Nature Center, Glenview, IL:
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Window of a ruined convent (Antigua, Guatemala):
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Old tombstone at Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, GA:

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Cee’s SYW: on travel, tolerance, nature, and cheating

Cee’s questions this week in her Share Your World challenge were inspiring to me, so I am participating (and wish I did more often, because her questions are often thought-provoking and leading to revealing something of ourselves). If you haven’t Shared Your World, head over to the link above and write something about yourself!

If you were having difficulty on an important test and could safely cheat by looking at someone else’s paper, would you do so?
In fact, I have done this – well, a long time ago. I was in junior high and had been taken out of school to take a trip to the eastern USA with my parents. I didn’t do much of my homework while I was away (except Spanish, because that was my favorite subject), so when I got back, I wasn’t prepared for the test on the book we were supposed to have finished for English class. cheating

Also in junior high, I cheated on a science test by looking at my neighbor’s paper, mainly because I simply didn’t understand the concepts.CHEATING-IN-SCHOOL

However, this is not something I would do nowadays and I never did it again from high school on!

What things in nature do you find most beautiful?
Nearly everything…brilliant sunsets, the colors of autumn, flowers, and watching nature unfold – there is nothing more exciting than in the spring seeing the plants push up from underground, and transform into snowdrop flowers, daffodils or tulips.


Complete this sentence: When I travel I love to….see as much as possible! Photograph everything – I love to be able to wander around freely to take pictures. I also love interacting with local people and learning about their culture and their lives.


What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.
I read a short column in Time magazine by Dan Rather, in which he says it’s good to have tolerance, but that is not enough. Tolerance doesn’t require true interaction with others who are different from ourselves, we just have to accept them. tolerance means
Tolerance and segregation can live side by side. Tolerance doesn’t require any work on either side’s part to discuss those issues that separate us. From tolerance, we need to move toward inclusion. Inclusion requires interaction and dialogue with others, not just acceptance. Inclusion means we are not afraid to have a debate with people who think differently from ourselves.inclusion.png

 

Photo Essay: Santo Domingo del Cerro Cultural Park, Antigua, Guatemala

After a walking tour of Antigua, our hungry tour group ascended a hill by bus to have lunch at The Golden Fork restaurant as well as explore the cultural park which promotes Guatemalan artists’ work.

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Wood carving – Quetzal (Guatemalan national bird)

 

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Nature’s artwork!

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Hand Made in Guatemala and Peru

I’m sure many of the beautiful, colorful clothes and other items that one can buy in Guatemala are made in factories these days. But you can usually tell when something is made by hand. For Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week theme “Hand Made,” this is a quilt I saw for sale during my day trip in Guatemala:
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I didn’t buy it, just admired it! I did buy the piece below, which I bought in Peru in 2008 and is now hanging on the mantle in my living room. It was made by the Uros people, who live on floating islands made of reeds in Lake Titicaca. 20170915_111528

I have always loved and admired folk art, perhaps more so because I completely lack the talent to do beautiful handiwork like these artisans do.

Walking Tour of Antigua, Guatemala

March 31, 2017

Antigua, Guatemala is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and walking through its old, sometimes crumbling, downtown is like being in an open air museum!

Our guide today was Dario, whose English was not as good as our previous guides in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, but he was understandable. He told us he’d been a science teacher and so today we were his “students.” Our group was large and he had a lot of stories to tell us, so he would clap his hands to indicate he wanted us all to gather around him. He had given each of us a number, so he would call out the numbers and we were to reply with “a word, any word” to declare our presence. He also created imaginary “bridges” to get us to walk single file on the narrow sidewalks.

There were 37 of us on the tour, so we tried to keep up in order to not lose sight of
the rest of our group. We tried to keep the little flag with the number 12 on it in sight. We all wore lanyards with Dario Morán written on them. Whoever was at the front of the line had the benefit of Dario’s continuous narrative. Dale and I were never in the front, because we always got out of line to take pictures.

With all the walking and narration, Dario left us little time for bathroom breaks!

The old part of Antigua has many cobblestone streets and sidewalks. We walked along a street that took us to a wall in bad repair with indentations that apparently were bricked over windows of what had been an old hospital. Because it is privately owned, Dario said, the government can do nothing to restore it and apparently whoever owns it doesn’t care to pay for restoration, which is a pity – it could be made into an interesting museum open to all. Dario said there were other such privately-owned sites that would be better put to use as public patrimony.

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The sign at the entrance says that the convent is open Monday thru Sunday 9 am – 5 pm.

KODAK Digital Still CameraOur first major stop was a 1736 Capuchin convent, called Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza, belonging to an order of Franciscan nuns. It has been partially restored and is open to the public. One interesting architectural innovation was the columns, which were wider at the bottom than at the top to create a sense of space.

 

This convent and church has several sections. One courtyard flanked by arched hallways had a number of carved stone slabs imprinted with religious or secular objects on display. Another area was a circular courtyard around which were small rooms with arched entryways and each equipped with its own “toilet” (a private area marked off with a hole to use for the purpose). A few of these rooms had wax figures of nuns who would go into these rooms for a private place to read or meditate.

The columns in this courtyard are wider at the bottom.

Stones with religious symbols on display

 

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The round courtyard with small rooms and passageways around it

 

Left: A wax figure of a nun in a private “room.” Right: passageway to another courtyard.

Some of the archways led to larger, more open rooms with windows onto other courtyards with trees and flowers.

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We gathered in a patio in front of the church entrance but did not go in – I’m not sure if it’s open to the public.

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We continued our walk down a cobblestone street with yellow arches over the street. Over one of these was a clock tower. Everywhere we walked, vendors followed us. A couple of young men, one with a Mohawk hairstyle played wooden flutes and tapped on hollow pieces to make percussion sounds. Women in traditional dress peddled their wares to anyone who paid even the slightest attention.

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Although many of the items were similar – beaded necklaces, fake jade pendants, beaded birds and earrings, woven cloths in various sizes, designs and colors – they were mostly quite nice and well made. They and we played the game of pretending the jade necklaces they were selling for $10 were “real” jade.

As I walked along one of the narrow sidewalks, I saw the woman in front of me negotiate with a vendor to buy three necklaces. I showed interest so she followed alongside me as I asked her about various necklaces. I spoke to her in Spanish. (She spoke enough English to sell stuff to tourists.) She wanted to sell me some that didn’t interest me; I wanted (fake) jade. As we walked along, she would show me some of her wares, then suddenly point down and tell me to be careful, there’s a pothole down there! This happened a couple of times. I was enjoying this, since I had had little opportunity to have a conversation in Spanish on this trip. I finally negotiated for 2 necklaces for $15. She wanted $20, and they were probably worth it, but I told her I needed $5 to tip the guide. She accepted this excuse and drew a five-dollar bill from a fold in her skirt, as change for my twenty dollar bill.

Many windows in town were draped with purple cloths, called cucuruchu (not to be confused with cucaracha, although tourists often did, Dario told us!), as preparation for Holy Week. We saw some of the statues that were being prepared for the Passion procession, a tradition here.

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We came to the Plaza Mayor, the main square, whose center featured a mermaid fountain – the mermaids had jets of water flowing from their breasts.KODAK Digital Still Camera

I saw a sign with the word sanitarios, but didn’t have the chance to follow up on that immediately without risking losing the group. Along one side of this plaza was the main cathedral, a pale yellow edifice decorated in Baroque style with white bas relief designs and statues. The symbols of Saint James (Santiago) were present in the design, including the shape of a shell. Dario pointed out one figure of a saint, high up over the main entrance, who was holding a black cross.

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The rest of the plaza had greenery flanking its walking paths and on the three sides not containing the cathedral were government buildings and arch covered walkways with rows of stores.

KODAK Digital Still CameraWe then walked to the ruin of a large church that seems to be in the (slow) process of restoration.

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After the ruin, we walked to the jade factory and museum Jade Maya, our last stop before lunch. Real jade was sold for high prices in high class shops like Jade Maya, which was a factory, museum and showroom where beautifully designed jewelry sold from $50 (for earrings) to over $500 (for stunningly crafted necklaces).  It was possible to get a cheap souvenir for $19, imprinted with the symbol of an animal which corresponded to your exact birthdate. The vendors looked up birthdates in a large book with small printing, containing every date for the last 100 years! The symbol for June 2, 1952 was “Iq” (pronounced “eek”) or colibrí (hummingbird). I bought the round pendant on a black lanyard and in the packaging was a card explaining the symbol’s significance.

 

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My real jade pendant

 

 

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Jade archaeological artifact at Jade Maya

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Courtyard at Jade Maya

 

 

 

It’s Gotta Be Blue

The theme for Frank’s Dutch Goes the Photo Tuesday Photo Challenge this week is BLUE (lots of color challenges lately!). Here are my offerings.

I took this picture of the blue Caribbean Sea and the blue sky above because I liked the cloud formations. 20170324_163800

During my most recent visit to Chicago Botanic Garden on the day of the solar eclipse, I saw these gorgeous “Blue Butterfly” Siberian larkspur flowers. Larkspurs are in the delphinium family.20170821_122819

At a cultural center atop a hill in Antigua, Guatemala, where The Golden Fork restaurant is located, the grounds had many works of art on display.  This artist used blue mosaic tiles to depict everyday scenes. This was my favorite in the series.KODAK Digital Still Camera

An artist’s studio at Spanish Village in San Diego, California
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