Santa Clara Convent

DiploMom and I enjoyed one final trip to Antigua on Friday, sans the kiddos, which felt both refreshing and weird at the same time. We wanted to buy some final items at the artisan market and there were some ruins neither of us had seen yet – the Santa Clara Convent.

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Semester Break Show

Last week DiploTot’s school had a big performance at a theater down in Zone 1, Teatro Abril. I knew that there was some sort of event taking place down at this theater just before their two-week break, but I wasn’t completely sure what all that entailed. We had paid some money for some kind of costume and DiploTot seemed to have picked up some dance moves that she was at times demonstrating to us at home.

Well, the week leading up, she brought her costume home and I was completely blown away that she had a custom made princess dress that cost us only about $20. We hired a driver to get us down to the theater the morning of the event, still not quite sure of what the show entailed. I have to say, we were quite impressed. Every class had a dance number that they performed and each class had different costumes.

DiploTot’s class performed to Hit Me With Your Best Shot. Her class was the last to perform and DiploTot started off pretty much just standing there, but then when the time came to jump up and down, she joined right in, so all and all, not bad. We were just glad that she didn’t just stand there the entire time, or worse yet, just cry.

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The school’s director, Mariella.

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Her teacher, Sophia.

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Mexican Visa Mug Shots

Before arriving in Guadalajara, we have to have our Mexican diplomatic work visas. The process is quite simple, mainly because DiploMom can take our passports and forms to a person in the embassy and he then handles getting them over to the Mexican embassy and then picking them up. The only hassle on our part is getting the photos taken.

Here are our mug shots. As you can see, DiploTot has the whole “you can’t smile for the passport/visa photo” thing down especially well. At least DiploBoy managed to get away with a little bit of a smile. Quite a difference from when we had to get his photo for his passport after he was born and we couldn’t get him to wake up. The guy taking the photo at the post office finally gave up and we went with the sleeping 3-week-old newborn photo.

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We’ve received our passports back with the visas, so we are all official now. It was exciting to see them as it makes the pending changes seem particularly real. They’ll be getting even more real soon as movers will be here to start our pack out in about a month.

Onward Assignments

Spring and early summer is a busy transition time for people at post. We’ll be headed out at the end of July and we’ve had several good friends depart with a good number more in the the next couple of months. Here is where other friends are headed. Some of these are with the Embassy and others are with US AID.

  • Windhoek, Namibia
  • Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • Lilongwe, Malawi
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Tegucigalpa, Honduras
  • Kiev, Ukraine
  • Lusaka, Zambia
  • Harare, Zimbabwe
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Baghdad, Iraq

Back To IRTRA

It’s been pretty slow on the blogging front lately and I am really starting to lag on posting updates. Things have been pretty quiet as we will be packing out in a couple of months and have generally been sticking around the city. One of the items on our final list was to make it back out to IRTRA and the Xocomil water park, which we did this past Memorial Day weekend.

We had such a great time on our first visit and this could very well be our last get-a-way before we leave. This time around we found out about asking for a friend of IRTRA discount which meant we were able to get a suite for the same price as the one room on our first visit, which was much easier to manage since we only had DiploTot then. This go around we had DiploBoy and we also brought along Dulce for the extra help. We traveled out with some other friends from the embassy who live in our same neighborhood and had a great time.

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Painting The Wall

DiploMom recently headed up a project for their Consular Development day activity to paint a wall that is outside of the waiting area for visa applicants. The wall is actually a part of the restaurant next door and they were kind enough to agree to the painting proposal. A local graphic designer volunteered his time for the design and then it was up to the Consular section to get things painted.

The project turned out great and the new painting and design is a huge improvement over what had been there before. Here’s a time lapse video of some of the painting.

Fifth Sunday Procession

This past Sunday we were able to see the Jesús Nazareno de la Caída y Santísima Virgen de Dolores procession, one of the largest during Lent. We made our way in the direction of the procession after we arrived, not knowing how far along the procession was, beyond knowing that it was scheduled to start at 7:00 am.

The street started to get more crowded as we moved closer to the early stages of the procession route, so we finally decided to grab a spot to wait in the shade while the getting was still good, as the sidewalks were starting to fill up. At this point we had no idea how much longer we might be waiting until the procession passed.

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After a while of incessant staring down the street on my part in an attempt to make out anything, DiploMom asked some men in purple robes near us if they knew when the procession would likely pass and they said it was a little behind schedule, but that it should pass within the next thirty minutes or so. Now having at least some reasonable idea of how much longer helped make the wait more bearable.

The anticipation in the air was thick and the streets were getting quite crowded. As we noticed people coming from the direction of the procession and no one else headed that way, we knew we had to be getting close. After some time, the advance elements of the procession ahead of the float began to arrive.

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We could hear the bands from down the street, as well as see the smokey incense filling the air, so we knew we were getting close. Finally I was able to spot the approaching float above all the people, so we knew the arrival was imminent.

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I knew to expect a very large float, but even knowing this, I was still amazed at the size when it finally arrived.

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After the float has passed, followed by the band, I thought things were generally over, but apparently after the men, the women follow with a float of their own as well.

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DiploBoy was a champ throughout. When all was said and done we had been in our spot waiting for about an hour-and-a-half, and we just knew he would start melting down just as the procession arrived. But, he did great and other than not being particularly pleased when the bands were playing right next to us, he didn’t get upset at all.

 

Alfombras

A big part of the festivities surrounding the processions in Antigua are the building of alfombras (carpets) in the streets along the procession routes. The alfombras are beautiful and very labor intensive, with people devoting many hours to their construction.

A base layer of sand is applied to the cobblestone streets, followed by a layer of pine needles. At this point, some of the alfombras will then be constructed with additional plants, flowers and fruits, while others will use colored sawdust and stencils to create intricate patterns and designs. I am most fond of the alfombras made with sawdust, but they are all beautiful sights to behold.

Since a procession can take anywhere from 12 to 18 hours, visitors will find the alfombras in various states of construction depending on where they are located on the procession route. When we arrived on Sunday, we headed in the direction of the procession and found mostly completed alfombras. After the procession we saw others underway at various other points along the planned procession route and many other streets still bare, since the procession was not going to arrive for hours and hours.

The alfombras were definitely one of my favorite parts of the experience.

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