Folklife Festival 2015: Peru

I think my favorite event in Washington, D.C. is the annual Folklife Festival which is held the last week of June and the first week of July. This year the featured country is Peru.

The festival is being held adjacent to the National Museum of the American Indian, and extends into the museum itself. Inside you can visit a new English-Spanish bilingual exhibit called The Great Inka Road (third floor), and buy Peruvian folkart, (in the atrium just inside the entrance.)

The most interesting fact I learned from the Inka exhibit, which will be in place until June 2018, is that the Andean people knew the bark of the quina tree (also known as “quinine”) cured malaria for thousands of years. Use of quinine in Europe occurred in the 1600’s after Catholic missionaries learned about it from the Andean people.

Peruvian flowers, folkart

The folk art available included traditional items, like these colorful tin flowers made in Ayacucho, Peru.

But the equally colorful more modern typography art called “chicha” was available as well. I love the quote on this signed print by artist Elliot Túpac. It says “La suerte cuesta trabajo” (luck requires work.)

Art by Elliot Tupac

Outside was an awesome mural in the same style which combines ancestral colors in modern street-style urban designs. I can’t say for sure whether that was the same artist working on it, as another artist by the name of Pedro “MONKY” Rojas, chicha pioneer and mentor to Túpac, was being prominently featured nearby.

Peruvian urban art

There was so much going on, I didn’t really know what to check out first, and as soon as I’d spot something interesting, something else would distract me. There were many different types of artisans weaving, working with clay, carving wood, and this guy who was lashing together reeds to make rafts called “caballitos de totora” which have been used by fishing families in Huanchaco for five thousand years.

Peruvian reed boats

I loved the embroidery on this woman’s blouse.

Peruvian woman weaving

I learned about different types of corn, (I was told the purple corn is used only for chicha morada and chicken feed because it never gets soft), I watched a cooking demonstration for lomo saltado, and I saw what quinoa plants look like.

There were also plenty of things I missed, like the Marinera dance with Peruvian Paso horses, (there was a huge crowd, so I went in the opposite direction to take advantage of everyone else being away from other exhibits), but here’s one of the performers and his horse afterward.

Peruvian horseman

Of course, all this walking around made us hungry, especially since the smell of Peruvian food was in the air.

Chicha morada and papa rellena

We had brought along a picnic lunch so we wouldn’t spend money, but I couldn’t resist a small snack. This is a papa rellena, which is a potato croquette filled with ground beef, hard-boiled egg, raisins, and spices. The green sauce is aji verde, and the drink is, of course, the ever popular chicha morada.

The most interesting part of our day occurred when I wandered over to a tent to investigate men who were dressed in very unique-looking costumes. One of the men turned around while I was staring at the embroidered design on his back and so I said to him in Spanish, “Su traje es bien bonito.” (Your suit/costume is really nice.) The man thanked me in Spanish and so I asked him if it was worn year-round or for a particular event. He explained that he was part of a Contradanza troupe and the costume is worn in a small town during the celebration called the “Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen de Paucartambo.”

I finished my conversation with the gentleman, thanking him for his time, and then turned around to look for Carlos. I found him and the boys standing a few yards away watching a man weave together rope. I realized that this must be one of the Quechua men who is working on recreating the rope bridge, (“Q’eswachaka”) which, when finished, will be suspended across the National Mall. When the festival is over, a section of the bridge will be put on display in the National Museum of the American Indian. This bridge is built and re-built by four Andean communities each year in Peru, a tradition that dates back six hundred years, and being tradition, as you’d imagine, there are many rituals and beliefs surrounding the creation of it.

Well, the man who was working on it, stood up and addressed the crowd in Spanish. “Necesitamos ayuda. ¿Quién puede ayudarnos?” he asked, (We need help. Who can help us?)

I wasn’t sure exactly what he needed help with. Judging from the faces of others who had gathered to watch, nobody else knew either, or perhaps they just didn’t speak Spanish, and maybe for that reason, no one volunteered.

I pushed past my shyness and raised my hand.

I stood only feet away, and yet the man somehow didn’t see me as he repeated his question – “We need help, who will help us?” – Still, no one else volunteered. I waved my hand a little higher. The man explained in more detail that they needed to stretch out the rope that had been woven together by pulling on it from opposite ends. Pull on a rope? I can do that. This time I spoke up with confidence.

“Yo. Yo puedo ayudar,” I said aloud, prepared to hand my purse over to Carlos.

The man shook his head and finally looked me briefly in the eyes, “Sólo hombres.”

Men only.

I felt my cheeks go hot, a mix of humiliation and indignation stirred inside me. I grew up playing tackle football with the neighborhood boys, climbing trees, swimming laps all summer long. I used to fight grown men in martial arts class. Maybe this man just didn’t know I was capable. Maybe he thought I’d get hurt. I’m no stranger to machismo, so I didn’t shrink away quietly. Instead I pulled up my shirt sleeve and flexed my bicep.

“Pero soy fuerte!” I called out loudly – But I’m strong!

Yet the man ignored me as finally a few volunteers of the male persuasion started to come forward.

Carlos rubbed my shoulder, “Did he hurt your feelings?”

“Just go ahead, you help, you guys help,” I said to Carlos and the boys.

Peruvian rope bridge

Two men from the Contradanza troupe smiled at me kindly while trying to comfort me. “It’s not personal,” they said, “It’s just tradition. It would be bad luck for a woman to participate.” I nodded my head, watched the two groups of laughing, grunting men play tug-of-war. I tried to act like I totally understood, but to be honest, it caused me to feel and think a lot of things – Things I won’t delve into here because the festival is meant to celebrate the beautiful and diverse culture of Peru and it just wouldn’t be in the spirit of the event to chase that rabbit today, but I did want to mention it because culture clashes and the questions that arise from them are so very interesting, aren’t they?

So to conclude, if you want to visit the 2015 Folklife Festival, (which I recommend!), you still have July 1st through the 5th. The festival hours are 11 am to 5:30 pm, with special events such as concerts taking place most evenings beginning at 7 pm. Details available at the website. Unable to attend in person? The website has plenty of great information, photos, and videos.

Comida Salvadoreña (Poster Giveaway!)

Do you guys remember around the holidays I shared my gift guide here which includes an awesome Cuban food poster created by Marta of My Big Fat Cuban Family? Well, Marta is actually someone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting face-to-face years ago and she was so thrilled that I loved her Cuban food poster that she contacted me with an idea for a collaboration. Her idea? A Comida SALVADOREÑA poster!

So I created a list of all my favorite Salvadoran foods and narrowed it down to the ones I felt were most important to include (because it was way too many to fit!) Once I provided the list of foods, Marta worked her creative magic and designed the poster! Here’s the one she sent me. I’m still trying to decide if I want it in my kitchen or dining room.

Salvadoran food poster

comida salvadorena poster

Want your own COMIDA SALVADOREÑA poster? The poster is available HERE in Marta’s online shop in standard sizes to make framing it super easy: 5×7, 8×10, 11×14, 16×20.

And Marta is generously offering one for giveaway to one of my readers, so enter below for your chance to win!

===GIVEAWAY CLOSED!===

Giveaway Details

Prize description: One lucky winner will receive a COMIDA SALVADOREÑA poster in the size of their choice. Sizes available are: 5×7, 8×10, 11×14, 16×20.

How to enter: Just leave a comment below telling me what your favorite Salvadoran food is. (Please read official rules below before entering.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the person responsible for prize fulfillment for that purpose. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid email address in the email address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 24 hours to respond. If winner does not respond within 24 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between May 28, 2015 through June 4th, 2015. Entries received after June 4th, 2015 at 11:59 pm EST, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Buena suerte / Good luck!

How to make: a Salvadoran-style wooden box

How to make a Salvadoran-style wooden box

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

If you’re Salvadoran or if you’ve ever been to El Salvador, you know that little wooden boxes are a common handicraft made and painted in the traditional style – I own several little “treasure box” style ones and at first I wanted to try to make one of those complete with a lid for this month’s woodworking challenge. Once I started planning it out though, I decided that for my first attempt I should try a more simple design, so with Carlos’s help I made a medium-sized wooden box without a lid. The supplies and method I used are below if you’d like to give it a try!

How to make: a Salvadoran-style wooden box

What you need:

jigsaw
utility square
pencil with eraser
paper
heavy duty bar clamp
2 pieces of craft board 3/8 x 4 x 24″ (to be cut for the 4 sides: Left, Right, Front, Back)
1 craft board 1/2 x 6 x 24″ (to be cut for the bottom)
newspaper
sandpaper
Elmer’s Carpenters wood glue (interior)
painters tape
Q-tips
paper towels
paint in various colors (I used Valspar samples I already had on hand)
small craft paint brushes
permanent marker (black)

Directions:

1. Measure and mark your wood for cutting using the utility square and pencil. Very important! Remember to include the width of the front and back pieces plus the bottom for the measurement you need for your two sides. These are the measurements I ended up with:

Bottom: 6″
Front: 6″
Back: 6″
Left side: 6 1/4″
Right side: 6 1/4″

Tip: Craft wood is sold with a UPC sticker on it. When you remove the sticker it might leave behind a sticky residue. This can be removed with a little dab of peanut butter on a paper towel. (Yes, peanut butter!)

2. Wearing eye protection, carefully use the jigsaw to cut our your pieces. You should have 5: bottom, front, back, left side, right side.

Carlos-cutting-1

Carlos-cutting-2

3. Make sure all pieces are the correct size by doing a dry assembly of the box to see that the corners line up properly with none of the pieces being too long or short.

4. Lightly sand any rough edges if necessary.

5. On top of a layer of newspaper, glue the front and back to the bottom. Use Q-tips to remove any excess glue before it dries. It’s really helpful to have a second person helping you at this stage. One person should glue and hold the pieces in place while the other lightly secures the clamp. Do not secure the clamp too tightly or they may lean in. To ensure the sides are at a 90 degree angle, you can use a triangle square. Leave the clamp on for at least an hour to ensure the glue has dried. Now repeat step 5 to attach the other two sides. Note: Really try to avoid using too much glue which will cause your box to stick to the newspaper. If this happen, the newspaper can be sanded off with sandpaper.

Glue-Box

6. Once the glue has dried you should have a completed wooden box ready to be painted. Gently tap the sides to make sure you’ve done a good job and the box will hold together.

7. Practice a design with pencil and paper. Once you know what you want to paint, draw your design directly onto the box with pencil.

box-sketch-design

8. On a layer of newspaper, paint your design. Tip: Painters tape is helpful for making clean lines.

Tape-box

Paint-box-halfway-done

9. Once the paint is dry your box is ready to display or use!

Salvadoran-box-4

Salvadoran-box-5

Want more creative ideas?

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Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, following them on Pinterest and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

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Día de los Muertos Marigold Lamp

DIY-handpainted-lamp

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

Autumn is the perfect time of year to curl up with a good book, and because it’s darker out, a new lamp in your favorite nook may be just the thing – but don’t settle for just any lamp – How about a custom hand-painted lamp? Today I’ll share how to paint a plain lampshade however you like. I chose a marigold theme for Día de los Muertos. (In Spanish, marigolds are called cempasúchiles, caléndulas, maravillas, or flor de muertos! Here’s a great video about the history of marigolds in Mexico if you’re interested.)

Ready to make your own hand-painted lampshade? Here we go!

Do-it-Yourself Hand-Painted Lampshade

What you need:

computer paper
printer with ink
Styleselections lampshade #0352517
Portfolio lamp base #0526936
painters tape
black paint
two similar shades of colored paint (I used Valspar Coral Reef and Valspar Tomato Bisque)
small craft paintbrushes
light bulb (check the box on the lamp base for the proper bulb. I needed a 13 watt CFL)

Note: I’ve given the specific lampshade and lamp base I used in case you want to get the same ones, but you can use any lampshade and lamp base you like. I recommend a lampshade with a white or light-color and smooth surface. Also, if you do a different design than the marigold, then obviously you may need more or different paint colors.

Directions:

1. Choose your design. The marigold design I chose is available on PicMonkey. I have it here for easy download. Just open in Microsoft Paint and print.

2. Remove plastic from the lampshade and take the base out of its packaging.

lamp-base-and-shade

3. Carefully place the design face down on the inside of the lampshade and tape into place.

flower-design-taped

4. Assemble the lamp, including the light bulb. Turn the light on and make sure it’s positioned the way you want before you start painting.

light-on-ready-to-paint

5. Paint the flower petals as you see in the photo, avoiding the black lines. I used Valspar Coral Reef. (The colors I use came out kind of salmon-colored, so if you want a truer orange, you will want to use a different color.)

first-paint-color

6. Use a lighter shade to paint a thin layer on each petal again, leaving a little of the darker color unpainted at the edges to give it more depth. You can see below I’ve started to paint a few of the petals with the second color.

applying-paint-2

7. Use black paint to fill in the outline.

filling-in-black-lines

8. Allow to dry. Remove the paper and tape from the inside of the lampshade. You’re finished!

marigold-lamp-1-latinaish

Want more creative ideas?

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Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, following them on Pinterest and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

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Recycled Soda Can Luminary

can-lantern-finished-project

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

September is a beautiful time of year to be outside at all hours. If you have a nice patio, it’s the perfect season to have an evening dinner party with friends or familia – but what’s a patio dinner party without a little mood lighting? Luminaries hung on a string or from trees can be so pretty. Here’s a method for making little lanterns out of recycled soda cans.

Do-it-Yourself Recycled Soda Can Luminary

What you need:

empty soda cans
x-acto knife
paper towels
screwdriver
string or wire
tealights (I highly recommend battery-operated tealights to ensure there’s no fire hazard)

Note: I do not consider this a safe craft for kids. The x-acto knife is obviously sharp but so is the soda can once it’s cut. Please be very careful.

Directions:

can-project-cans

1. Fill empty soda cans a little more than 3/4 of the way with water. Place in the freezer for a few hours, until water inside has frozen. Do not leave any longer than necessary as the water will expand and the can will bust and become unusable.

can-project-fill-w-water

2. Take the can out of the freezer and place on top of a few paper towels. Being extremely careful, use the x-acto knife to cut slits in the can as shown. The lines must be elongated ‘S’ shapes. Do not cut straight lines or it won’t turn out right. The more slits you make, the more intricate the design will be. You need at least 8.

can-project-S-shape-cuts

3. Use warm water to melt the ice inside the soda can, (or allow to melt in the sink.) Gently shake dry.

4. Insert the screwdriver into the inside of the can and use it to push the strips outward. Gently push down on the top of the can to help push them out. Take your time and work at the strips until they’re rounded and look nice.

can-project-push-down

can-project-round-it-out

can-project-top-view

5. Pull the tab of the soda can up, being careful not to snap it off. Tie a string or bit of wire to it as a hanger or run a length of string through several lanterns to hang.

6. Being careful not to cut your fingers, insert a tealight inside. (Battery operated highly recommended.)

can-project-with-battery-light

soda-can-lantern

Want more creative ideas?

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Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, following them on Pinterest and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

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Central American Artifacts in D.C.

Did you know that the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. has a large bilingual (English/Spanish) exhibit called “Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America’s Past Revealed“? It’s there until February 15, 2015 and features more than 160 objects from Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama – so check it out while you can if you live in the area. If not, here are a few highlights!

ceramica-de-los-ancestros

designs

Lempa River jar in the form of an armadillo, AD 900-1200, Near Palacios, Oratorio de Concepción, Cuscatlán, El Salvador

Lempa River jar in the form of an armadillo, AD 900-1200, Near Palacios, Oratorio de Concepción, Cuscatlán, El Salvador

Classic period Maya figure, AD 600-900, Usulután, El Salvador

Classic period Maya figure, AD 600-900, Usulután, El Salvador

Classic period Maya bowl, AD 250-600, San Agustín, Acasaguastlán, El Progreso, Guatemala

Classic period Maya bowl, AD 250-600, San Agustín, Acasaguastlán, El Progreso, Guatemala

Stamps from Costa Rica and Guatemala

Stamps from Costa Rica and Guatemala

Pre-Classic period Maya female figure, 200 BC-AD 1, San Jacinto, San Salvador, El Salvador

Pre-Classic period Maya female figure, 200 BC-AD 1, San Jacinto, San Salvador, El Salvador

Carlos said, "Hey, this one looks like me!" even though I told him that usually statues with hands on the hips are females.

Carlos said, “Hey, this one looks like me!” even though I told him that usually statues with hands on the hips are females.

Want more?

The National Museum of the American Indian website has more information related to the exhibit including photos, video, and even a really awesome printable coloring book for the niños!

Latin American Themed Cellphone Cases

latin-american-cellphones

Disclosure: Latinaish.com has partnered with Cricket Wireless as a 2014 Blog Ambassador. All opinions are my own.

Several years ago I was diagnosed as having carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s a common ailment for writers to develop, and I still haven’t gotten around to having surgery. Besides my hands feeling weak and arthritic at times, one of the worst symptoms of CTS is the increased instance of total butterfinger moments. (Those who have CTS know what I’m talking about!)

For the rest of you, let me explain: I’ll be holding something (an ice cream cone, a book, the remote control) and all of a sudden, my hand will just decide all on its own, that it doesn’t want to hold it anymore. I get no warning whatsoever. A frequent victim of these butterfinger moments is my cellphone.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve dropped my phone – and some of them have been from standing position over concrete. Thankfully I have a case on my phone and so far (knock on wood), my Samsung Galaxy s4 hasn’t been damaged. I’m sure that having a case on my phone has been at least partly responsible for protecting it, so I recently decided to invest in another case, as the one I have on it is pretty boring, (just a cheap grey-colored one.) While looking for a new case, I realized that some of you guys would probably love these as much as I do. Want to help me pick out which one I should buy? I narrowed it down to four and I’m having trouble choosing. Let me know in comments which case I should get!

el-salvador-phonecase
El Salvador phone case from Zazzle/AllWorldTees

sugarskulls-case
Sugar Skulls phone case from Zazzle/Thaneeya McArdle

world-map-case
World Map phone case from Zazzle/PMCustomGifts

frida-1-case
Frida Kahlo phone case from FineArtAmerica/Elena Day

For more from Cricket Wireless ambassadors, follow the #VidaConCricket hashtag and @MiCricket on Twitter.