Visita a las islas flotantes de los Uros

Hola Diana:

¿Qué tal has pasado tus vacaciones de verano? Las mías han sido estupendas, he estado haciendo una ruta con mis padres por Bolivia y Perú.

Ayer viajamos desde Copacabana, en Bolivia, hasta Puno, a orillas del  lago Titicaca. ¡Es un lugar mágico!

¿Recuerdas que estudiamos el lago Titicaca en clase de español? Es un lago en los Andes Centrales situado entre Bolivia y Perú. Es el lago navegable más alto del mundo y ocupa el lugar 19º del mundo por superficie.

uros-blog

 

 

La experiencia más impresionante fue la visita a las islas flotantes de los uros, una de las comunidades que vive en el lago. A unos 6 km del puerto de Puno (¡y a 3.812 metros sobre el nivel del mar!) se encuentra este archipiélago de 40 islas fabricadas con totora (una especie de junco que crece en los terrenos pantanosos de América del Sur). En realidad, por tanto, no son islas, son construcciones de totora que se asientan en el lecho del lago.

El sitio es bastante turístico pero es muy especial. Es como estar en otro planeta. Estas comunidades viven de la pesca, la venta de artesanía y el turismo.

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La totora es importantísima en la vida y en la economía de los uros: se utiliza también para fabricar los techos, paredes y puertas de las viviendas. Te preguntarás cómo se fabrica una isla con juncos… Nos explicaron que en la época de lluvia, las raíces de la totora salen a flote de forma natural. Los uros las cortan en trozos con sierras y las llevan hasta el pueblo. Allí ponen estacas de eucalipto en cada trozo de raíz y los unen mediante cuerdas. Eso forma la base de las islas. Además, con las totoras también fabrican su principal medio de transporte entre sus islas y el continente: las balsas. Otro de los usos de la totora, muy importante, es que cuando los tallos se secan los usan como leña para sus cocinas, cumpliendo la función de combustible. Además la utilizan como alimento, ya que al quitarle la corteza queda una sustancia blanca, fibrosa, prácticamente sin gusto, pero igualmente utilizada como complemento a sus dietas

También fabrican artesanías de totora, las cuales venden a los turistas que visitan sus islas… Cuando nos veamos te daré un pequeño regalito que compré para ti ☺

Un abrazo, Ana

Actividades:

  1. Busca el lago Titicaca en un mapa y describe su situación
  2. ¿Cuáles crees que son las principales dificultades de vivir en unas islas flotantes?
  3. ¿Te gustaría visitar las islas flotantes? Razona tu respuesta.
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Durmiendo en la isla de Amantaní

Hola Diana:

¡Este viaje me sigue sorprendiendo!

Ahora ya estoy en Lima y tenemos conexión a internet para poder escribir emails. Después de visitar la isla de los uros, fuimos en barco a la Isla de Amantaní, donde nos quedamos a dormir en casa de una familia (así es el turismo rural en Perú). La isla de Amantaní está formada por 10 comunidades, y nosotros nos quedamos a dormir en Santa Rosa.

Después de tres horas de viaje en barco, llegamos al puerto, donde estaban esperando todos los habitantes de la isla que alojan a turistas. Me llamó mucho la atención ver que los hombres visten de manera moderna, pero todas las mujeres van vestidas con ropa tradicional: falda amplia fucsia, camisa blanca con flores bordadas, chal negro con bordados en la cabeza y sandalias.

 

Nos quedamos en casa de una familia, Julio y María, que viven con sus tres hijos en una casita a la entrada del pueblo. La casita es sencilla, pero acogedora. ¡Y María guisaba muy bien! Cocinó una cena típica del lago Titicaca: sopa de quinoa, queso frito con papas, pollo y ensalada. La quinoa es un cereal típico de Perú, es parecido a las lentejas. ¿Lo has probado alguna vez? Está muy rico en la sopa o en ensalada.  Y para beber, mi bebida preferida: chicha morada. E InKa Cola, por supuesto.

amanti-boat-blog

En esta isla parece como si el tiempo se hubiera detenido. Las casas tienen electricidad con una pequeña placa solar, y en cada caso hay un solo wc. En la isla hay 3 colegios de primaria, y un  colegio de secundaria. Es una comunidad muy tranquila. Por supuesto, no tienen acceso a internet, y la mayoría de las casas no tiene televisión. Pero viven muy tranquilos y en equilibrio con la naturaleza… desde luego, no sufren de estrés como nosotros.

Por la tarde dimos un paseo con Julio y María para ver la puesta del sol desde  Pachatata, en lo alto de la isla. La visita de la puesta de sol desde allí es preciosa. Se ve el lago y al fondo, en la parte boliviana se ven los picos nevados de la Cordillera real boliviana.

amanti-terraces-blog

Te mando en este email unas fotos del lago para que veas que paisajes tan preciosos. Fíjate en el azul tan intenso del lago, y en los nevados de Bolivia al fondo.  (Llevo un gorro típico peruano porque, aunque hace sol, hace una temperatura fresca debido a la altitud).

 

Espero que estés disfrutando también tus vacaciones. ¿Dónde has estado? ¿Has podido practicar español, para que no se te olvide?

Un abrazo,

Ana

Actividades:

  1. ¿Por qué es interesante que un turista duerma en la casa de una familia peruana?
  2. ¿Has probado alguna vez la comida peruana? ¿Te gustaría probarla?
  3. Mira el video. ¿Te gustaría visitar la isla de Amantaní? Razona tu respuesta.

 

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Vejigantes Masks

Last night, I had the most beautiful dream. I was a butterfly flying around a gorgeous meadow. The sun was shining and I was in love with the butterfly king. I could feel myself smiling when I woke up. I sat up in bed, stretched, and opened my eyes. (SCREAM!) A bright red monster with eight horns was staring me in the face. I thought I was still dreaming, so I did what any person would do to a monster in a dream. (PUNCH!) I jumped out of bed and ran for the door.

It turns out, the boys bought paper mache vejigante masks from the market yesterday for the Carnival de Ponce today. This morning they got the bright idea to scare all us girls as we woke up. I’m glad they bought the paper mache ones because I don’t know what the ones made of a cow’s bladder would have looked like. I didn’t stick around to see who I clocked in the face, but it was pretty funny after I figured out what was going on. The other girls didn’t find it so hilarious. You should have seen all the sour faces at breakfast. LOL!

I should have known they were going to try something like that today. Today was the Festival of Saint James and the vejigante masks and costumes are a huge part of the celebration. You see, the different  masks tell the story of good versus evil. There are several characters one could choose to play during this festival; the knight, the vejigantes, the elders, or the crazy woman. The fun part about this tradition is that it’s unconventional. There are celebrations everywhere, not just in the main street or the main square in town. There are different celebrations going on everywhere, from the mall, to the street, to the airport. Yes, the airport. There are even art galleries that dedicate artwork to the vejigantes.

Vejigante

I was just amazed at how elaborate the masks were. They had between three and twenty horns and ranged from the traditional colors of red, black, and yellow to baby pink and lime green. I got to see a really nice one up close because one of the vejigantes pulled me out of the crowd to salsa dance to a Celia Cruz song. I must have been dancing already when he saw me and that’s why he approached me. You would not believe me if I described how awesome he looked, so I took a picture to show you. Now imagine this waking you up in the morning!

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Argentinean Rock

Tonight we decided to have an authentic Argentine rock fest. A few of the guys and I went to the store and bought some serious rock food. There is no rock party without soda, cheese puffs, and pizza, so we got tons of it. Since rock is one of my favorite genres of music, I knew tonight was going to be a blast!

I scoped out the stage and the sound system this morning at breakfast. Our hotel used to be a dinner theater, so they kept the stage as a tribute to the hotel’s history. I knew this would make the best stage for a night of rock. It also happened to have all the musical instrument back stage. We were so lucky to find the equipment, but it was dusty as all heck. I’ve never been opposed to a little spring cleaning, so it took me no time to dust it off and get it ready for our rock fest.

Rock in Argentina started out as voice for the youth of the 1960s who opposed the wars and tyranny of the times. It was music with a message. With this in mind, I wrote a song dedicated to the times. Of course I was too chicken to sing it myself, so I gave the lead vocals to our Argentinean buddy, Mario. He’s a huge fan of Soda Stereo and Divididos, who are uber famous rock band in Argentina, and the song was similar to their styles. I also had to remember that one of the most important parts of Argentinean rock is the Spanish lyrics. That’s what differentiated the rock stars from Argentina and the other popular artists from the United States and the UK. I had Mario check the lyrics for correctness, but he said that rock didn’t have to make sense, it had to move people. So he left all my lyrics alone.

With every rock band, there has to be a rocker look, so Mario brought us a Pelo Magazine from 1972 for inspiration. We found a band called Pappo’s Blues, which is a rock trio from the 1970s. They were influential in the blues/metal movement in Argentina. There’s this picture of them in V-neck, striped shirts, scarves, and wild messy hair. That was the look we wanted, so we dressed the part.

arco_iris_disco_llego_el_cambio_1972

Then the time came to hit the big stage. We laid all the instruments out, we had all the microphones ready, we’d channeled our inner Argentine rocker spirits, and the spotlight was on us. We were ready to be a success! The only problem was . . . none of us knew how to play a single instrument! I was thinking they could play and they were thinking I could play. We were absolutely hopeless at that point. All I could think to do was play chopsticks on the piano while Mario sang. We got booed off the stage and someone threw cheese puffs at us.

I couldn’t be mad at them for giving us the old “Apollo Theater Exit.” We stunk up the joint! But, I will say we couldn’t have been the only rock band in Argentina to get booed off of a stage. Rock in Argentina was underground for a long time when it first started. Bands played in old pizza joints and clubs. So I don’t think we were bad, we were just misunderstood. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Activities:

  1. What is your favorite musical band? Why?
  2. Read about the history of Soda Stereo, one of Argentina’s top bands. https://latinmusic.about.com/od/soda_stereo/a/Soda-Stereo.htm When was the band created? What are the names of the band members?
  3. Listen to Soda Stereo’s hit Música Ligera https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGDb_uFEuiM and follow the lyrics. How is it similar and different from American bands?
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Hernando Siles Stadium

Today was so amazing. I went to a soccer game at the Hernando Siles Stadium in La Paz, Bolivia. I mean, you always hear about how important soccer is in popular culture in Latin America, but there is nothing like being there and experiencing it for yourself. Imagine 42,000 people screaming fans in the seats and another 5,000 fans who couldn’t care less that they don’t have a seat. It was exhilarating!!! I’d heard about the controversy involving the stadium in 2007. FIFA said the Bolivian national team had an unfair advantage because they were used to the high altitude in the stadium and the other teams didn’t have enough time to get used to the altitude hike. I can definitely see why the visiting team would say that. The merchant who sold us the tickets said we had great seats at mid-field. What he failed to tell us was the seats were in the top level at mid-field. My ears started popping as I was walking up the steps to the top. I’m in pretty decent shape, so I knew if I was hurting, then everyone else would be in serious trouble. And I was right! When I looked back, everyone else looked like they could have benefitted from an oxygen mask. At almost 12,000 feet above sea level, I guess it is justifiable to be out of breath in the thin air.

La Paz Stadium

We got used to the altitude as the game went on. I almost forgot the altitude was a problem until I jumped up to celebrate a goal and got light headed. At that point I had to use the bathroom, so I took the opportunity go downstairs and get out of the crowded stands. As I was walking down, my stomach started to growl, so I made the decision to visit the concession stand too. Unfortunately, the stadium isn’t built like the stadium in the U.S. I found a bathroom just fine, but I didn’t find a concession stand. I walked for what seemed like forever and just gave up. So I made the hike back to my seat. I’m proud to say I’ve attended several events in the Andes. I’ve been immersed in Andean culture through sports, festivals, and traditions. But my all-time favorite was the soccer game at the stadium. Although I found this experience to be a personal high, I was glad to share it with almost 50,000 people. Activities:

  1. What was the controversy involving the soccer stadium in La Paz?
  2. Do you like to play or watch soccer? Why or why not?
  3. Watch the Bus Tour around La Paz https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ueWBLdHIDk Describe the city of La Paz.
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Feria de las flores

I was totally bummed when they told us we were going to the Flower Festival in Medellín. All I kept thinking was “eight days of girly, prissy stuff” and “why are we going for so long?” Usually our extra-curricular trips were only a day or two, so why would they make us stay in Medellín for so long? I immediately got on the internet to find other stuff for me to do around that part of Colombia. It was not going to be all flowers all week, and I meant it!

This trip quickly surprised me and changed my mind about flower festivals. When I saw the itinerary included a horse show, antique auto show, bikini contest, and musical concerts, I was super impressed. Here I was thinking the week would be all flowers and girly stuff when really it was fun for all.

The Medellín Flower Festival has been around for over fifty years. Originally it was all about the flowers, but in the 1990s they added more events to make the festival one of the most popular festivals in the world. And they hold two Guinness World Records for the most horses in a parade and the most flowers in a parade. The first day we went to see the record-holding horse parade. These weren’t just any horses, they were show horses. They did tricks, they pranced, and there had to have been at least 8000 horses. Their coats and manes were so shiny. I can tell they were brushed more than I brush my hair. It was nice to see how well these horses were taken care of.

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Yeah, the flower parade was nice, but the antique car show was incredible! My favorites were the cars from the old gangster movies. I pictured some of them with Tommy guns shooting from the passenger side window. Weird, I know. There were also the old 1920s first model cars. The wheels were so skinny that I couldn’t see how the tires were holding up the car. They were just so cool. It was like looking at a timeline of car industry history.

After the auto show, I hid out for a couple of days. As much as I wanted to see the parade of flowers, I couldn’t bring myself to actually go downstairs to it. Thankfully, our hotel was on the parade route, so I peeked out the window every once in a while. The event that brought me back to life was the pageant/fashion show. Colombia has some of the most beautiful women you could imagine. And it didn’t hurt that they were in skimpy clothes. Right after the show there were a string of concerts. I like Latin pop and rock, so these shows were right up my alley.

Overall, I had a great time. This trip was a far cry from the traditional festivals we were used to going to. I’d come back every year if I could. Especially since I met Silvia, one of the models in the fashion show!

Activities:

  1. Go to Google Maps (https://www.google.es/maps) and find Medellín. Is it close to Bogotá or other important cities? What is the climate like?
  2. What things can you see or do in the Feria de las Flores?
  3. Do you know any other celebrations related to flowers in the US or other countries? Do some research on the Internet if you need to.
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Antoni Gaudi

Today we went to the Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona. It is the largest and most unique Catholic Church I’d ever seen in person. To me, it resembled more of a gothic palace than a church from the outside, but the inside was all church. This place felt like it had great energy even though there were still cranes outside and construction ladders inside. It’s hard to believe this place is only about half-way through construction.

When we left there I had to find out more about the building, so I went back to the business center at the hotel to do some investigating. It turns out the construction started on this church in 1882. In 1883 they changed architects to Antoni Gaudi. It was then his vision began to form into what we see today. You can tell a lot about a structure by the architect, so of course I dove further into the history of Antoni Gaudi.

Sagrada Familia

Gaudi spent most of his life, but especially his childhood, in pain. He had a condition that made him immobile. He had to lie in the house or travel by donkey everywhere he went. I can’t imagine not being able to play outside with the other kids. He must have been so envious! They say he watched them from his window. He also watched the scenes from nature. He’d watch the birds, the flowers, and all the wonders Mother Nature provided. Some say you can see his appreciation for nature in his architecture.

In school, Antoni studied religion and architecture. He attended a prep school that specialized in architecture and later on went to a university to continue his architectural journey. Between the time he finished school in 1878, Gaudi had worked on over twenty-five structures that are still standing today, including eight World Heritage sites.

antoni_gaudi_1878

I was thoroughly impressed with Antoni Gaudi. I read a lot about his works, his bad temper, and how he started the Modernism movement in Spain. The sad part about the story of his life came after his death. Raiders ransacked and stole the plans for the building of the Sagrada Familia during the Spanish Civil War. Now the construction of the church is up for interpretation. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the plans, but no matter what the construction has continued. The constructors plan to finish the church in 2026, the centennial of Antoni Gaudi’s death. Neat, huh?

Activities:

  1. What was Antonio Gaudi’s childhood like?
  2. After looking at the picture of the Sagrada Familia, what would you highlight about its architecture?
  3. Watch this short documentary with images about Gaudi’s architecture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vKKN1zFz9M What impressed you the most?
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International Song Festival in Viña del Mar

Tonight I became a MONSTER! No, I didn’t change into a zombie or get bitten by a werewolf, but I did participate in one of the wildest music festivals I’ve ever been to in my life. Every year, in Viña del Mar, Chile, there is a music festival/singing competition. How it works is a band (sometimes no name bands, sometimes up-and-coming bands, and sometimes established bands) will perform in front of a massive audience of 20,000 people in the Quinta Vergara Amphitheater. The audience decides if they like the band or not by cheering or booing. That’s why they call the audience el monstruo, because if they don’t like you, they’ll chew you up and spit you out.

This festival kind of reminds me of what I heard about the competitions at the Apollo Theater back in the day. If they audience liked you they’d cheer and if they didn’t like you they’d boo. A lot of famous people got their start at the Apollo, and this festival does the same thing by giving artists a shot at fame and stardom — and others an opportunity to re-evaluate their musical careers.

Franz Ferdinand at Viña del Mar festival 2006 picture by Nestor Gallegos

I really liked the way they put on this international song festival. They split the artists into two categories, pop and folk. I’m not really into folk music, but it was easy to choose the events geared more towards the pop audience and popular culture. I got a really nice program so I could follow along with the artists, and their music was for sale if we liked what we heard. I found it to be an amazing platform for new and established artists. This festival is broadcast around the world and the artists get to share a stage with some of the biggest names in music today.

I finally took my seat when the first band got onstage. I liked walking around and talking to the people, but it was time to be a MONSTER! I knew the audience would be super critical, so I prepared myself for the worse. Thankfully, the first few bands were really good. They had catchy hooks and the beats were insane. Everyone there agreed and cheered for those guys. The fourth band wasn’t so lucky. They must have been nervous. The lead singer knocked over the microphone. When he went to pick it up he tripped over a cord. The audience laughed, and I know the dude was embarrassed. As soon as he opened his mouth to sing, el monstruo unleashed its wrath. He didn’t sound that bad, but he wasn’t that great either. You should have heard some of the things they were yelling. The poor band ran off the stage, where I know they cried. Thankfully after that, we took a break.

By the end of the day’s competition, el monstruo was tamed by this band from Canada. They were really good. We didn’t stick around for all six days of the competition, but the concept was really cool. The environment was alive and the music flowed through the air as if it were part of the breeze. I loved it! I’d like to come back for all six days next time. I know a great band back home that could rock this festival, but I’m scared of what el monstruo will do to them. It doesn’t hurt to try, but a tomato could cost you an eye. OK, I must be tired now because I’m rhyming. Good night!

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Charrería

I thought the national sport of Mexico would be soccer, but it’s really Charrería. Really? Charrería? It turns out the Mexican rodeo is extremely popular in the central parts of Mexico. I’d been to the rodeo before when my family visited Texas a few years ago, but I wanted to see the difference between the two. So I gathered a few brave souls to go with me, and we headed to the local competition.

I noticed the first difference right off the bat. The Charros (traditional Mexican horseman) wore brightly colored costumes. This one Charro had on a bright blue hat with gray custom designs and his suit was gray with the same bright blue in the patterns. It was fully coordinated, even down to the bright blue cowboy boots he wore. He also had on a bright blue scarf around his neck. It kind of reminded me of a mariachi costume smacked with bright blue paint. And the costumes got even better. There was a woman in a long, hot pink dress with puffy shoulders and a white ruffle bell-shaped bottom. I kept thinking to myself that she was too beautiful to participate in this type of competition, but she got down and dirty with the rest of the men and women out there.

Mexican Charros - Photo by Ehecatzin

Mexican Charros – Photo by Ehecatzin

Another major difference I saw was the Charros worked in teams and not as individuals. In the competitions in Texas, the riders tried to win the competition and the prize money as an individual, whereas the Charros in Mexico won their individual competitions to add to their team’s total points. Then at the end of all nine of the different mini challenges, the team with the most points wins. Wins what, you ask? Not money, but glory and pride for their riding association. I would have wanted a cash prize for risking my life, but the Charros do it for bragging rights.

I’m glad I went and experienced the Charrería. Aside from the great Mexican food and the colorful scenery, I got a taste of the rich Mexican tradition that’s been around since the 1500’s. The sport has grown and evolved since the sixteenth century, and I can’t wait to see how it continues to grow in the twenty-first century. Maybe I’ll come back to see it all on a larger scale on Charro Day on September 14th.

Activities:

  1. List the main differences between charros and cowboys.
  2. What do you think would be most entertaining about watching charrería? Why?
  3. Charrería is a derivative word made by adding the suffix –ería to the stem of the word charro:charro ➞ charrería
    Add the suffix –ería to the following words to create the derivative words.Guess the meaning of the new words!
    fruta ➞
    niño ➞
    helado ➞
    pescado ➞
    carne ➞
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Sawdust Carpets

I was so glad to hear that Comayagua, Honduras was going to be one of the stops on our Central American tour. My youth group would make small sawdust carpets every year during Holy Week. One of the members went to Comayagua on a family vacation and brought back the idea. I was ecstatic to find out I was going to see the real thing.

Each year during Holy Week, the residents paint the street in colored sawdust along the religious processional route. Some people use colored beans and seeds in their designs, but for the most part they use sawdust. I wanted to get there early to see how it was done, but we could only come in on that Thursday evening. By then, most of the streets were already decorated.

As we settled into the hotel, the exceptionally pretty housekeeper told us to hurry up and get dressed so we could go see the reenactment of the Last Supper in the Parque la Libertad at 6:30 p.m. It was a nice experience. Afterwards, we went to eat our own supper because we were all hungry from the trip. While at dinner, the waiter, who recognized us as tourists, suggested we go to some street I’d never heard of and watch a man and his family make the last sawdust carpet. He told us this family starts working at 12:30 a.m. and finishes around 6:00 a.m. That’s exactly what I came to see, so I was definitely in! So I knew I’d have to take a nap if I was going to be there at 12:30 a.m., so after dinner I went to bed.

My alarm went off at 11:45 p.m. I couldn’t believe I’d slept so long, but I was excited to get out there and see how these famous carpets are made. The streets were practically empty. I’d heard of an overnight silent processional taking place but I didn’t see anyone along the route I was going. With the empty streets, I got out there at about 12:20 a.m.

There was a layer of tan-colored sawdust that covered the street with the outline of the finished product stenciled across the sawdust. The father saw me admiring the stencil and asked if I wanted to help. I got really excited and told him yes. He called for his daughter to come outside with the sketch of the outline he’d drawn on paper. His daughter came out, wiping her eyes, and handed me the paper. I saw the amazing color and the attention to detail and I was excited to help out.

saw_dust_carpet_comayagua_honduras

The father gave me a section of the carpet to work on and gave me the drawing to go by. The section had very specific colors, so he gave me the bags of the colored sawdust that corresponded with the section. The family was very serious about their work, so they didn’t really talk. I got the occasional smile and nod, but not much conversation. I couldn’t hold my eyes open by about 4:30 a.m. I took a few pictures of the work I’d done and the almost completed project and went back to the hotel. Unfortunately, I slept through the actual Good Friday processional but I did get to a chance to help make this festival a success.

Activities:

  1. Explain the tradition of sawdust carpets in Comayagua, Honduras.
  2. Does your family celebrate Good Friday? Do you know of any US traditions on or around Holy Week?
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