Category Archives: celebration

Feliz National Pupusa Day 2013!

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It’s that time of year again – Día Nacional de la Pupusa! I hope that you’re all celebrating by eating some delicious pupusas either from your favorite pupusería or homemade.

While you’re waiting to eat, here’s a National Pupusa Day crossword to keep you busy. How much of a pupusa expert are you? You can download the crossword as a PDF or Word document to print and share as you like, or you can even play it online! Click the image below to be taken to the National Pupusa Day crossword puzzle!

Click here!

Click here!

(If you get stumped, “Latinaish” is the answer key password.)

If you want more pupusa fun, here’s an easy index to my favorite pupusa blog posts here on Latinaish. (Quite frankly, I was a little shocked by how many there are. If El Salvador’s Tourism Department is looking for an Official Pupusa Blog Ambassador, I’m your gringa.)

Humorous Pupusa Blog Posts:

You down with O.P.P? (Yeah, you know me!) (A suegra story.)

Feliz Día Nacional de la Pupusa [2010] (This post includes “ORACIÓN A LA PUPUSA SALVADOREÑA.”)

El Salvador: The Mariachi Story (The time we ate pupusas in Planes de Renderos and my acting like a tourist cost Carlos a lot of money!)

Pupusa Day 2011 (My son’s funny answer to how Salvadorans celebrate National Pupusa Day.)

How to eat a pupusa (video)

Recipes:

How to make Pupusas de Queso (video & post)
Mini-Pupusas de Queso y Frijol
Pupusas Revueltas with Salsa and Curtido (videos & post)

Ofrendas and Changing Beliefs

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Today has been a busy day since Día de los Muertos is also my youngest son’s birthday. We’ve been celebrating with him and preparing to celebrate again with family tomorrow, but I also took time to set up our ofrenda over the past couple days.

This year marks a turning point for me culturally because I included many of my own loved ones on our ofrenda. Last year I actually added my paternal grandfather, but I did so hesitantly.

I say “hesitantly” because as much as I admire the holiday and feel it’s a good way to remember Carlos’s loved ones, I hadn’t felt comfortable remembering my own loved ones. Originally I thought, well, this is a Catholic holiday and being that my father’s side of the family is Jewish and my mother’s side of the family is Protestant, it just doesn’t make sense to include my family. However, with each passing year I realized that my hesitance was not truly about the mixing of religions – my hesitance was actually an Anglo-American belief so deeply ingrained that it was difficult for me to recognize – and that belief is that remembering loved ones is something painful, sad, fearful and unpleasant.

When I added my paternal grandfather to the ofrenda last year, it wasn’t an easy thing. I chose my favorite photo of him, one I took myself when I was probably no older than eight. I still remember the moment I took it. He gave me the camera, a Kodak Instamatic, I think it was. He showed me how to load the film, snap a photo, and he set me free. I ran around my grandparents’ house in New York photographing everything. At one point I followed my grandpa out to the driveway. He was wearing one of his signature newsboy caps. “Hey Grandpa,” I said, “Let me take your picture.” He smiled down at me – that is the photo I put on the altar. I added Corn Flakes, the cereal he used to eat every morning, a little trumpet to represent his love of big band music, and a dreidel because he was Jewish.

While I experienced sadness at first, that sadness lifted and I began to experience the holiday as it’s meant to be celebrated. My boys asked me questions about the altar, and I had the opportunity to share stories with them about my grandfather which felt really good.

This year as I set up the altar, I realized that my attitude toward remembering loved ones had changed and I now felt comfortable including my great-grandmothers. As they did last year, the boys asked questions about photos and items on the altar. I was more than happy to tell them stories, the good memories of so many people I was blessed to have known.

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Related Links:

Altar 2010
Altar 2011
Altar 2012

A Trip to: Mexico

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Editor’s note: Welcome to the Hispanic Heritage Month “A Trip to” series here on Latinaish. This series has been so popular that we’re going to continue it beyond Hispanic Heritage Month! Join us as we virtually visit different Latin American countries through the photos and words of people who live there, have lived there, or have visited and have a lot of love for that particular place. Today F.J. of Bilinguish shows us around Mexico!

Mexico is a fascinating country to visit because it is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the Americas and, with more than 116 million people, the most populous. Besides having great physical diversity, from volcanoes to deserts to jungles, Mexico also boasts a variety of indigenous languages and cultures.

The gorgeous view from atop a pyramid at the archeological site of Teotihuacán is one of the most iconic images of Mexico, but it is just one of many beautiful places to see.

Teotihuacan Avenida de los Muertes y P del Sol desde P de la Luna

Mexico City is a great place to start exploring; It is one of the largest urban centers in the Western Hemisphere, second only to Sao Paulo, Brazil. The center of the urban area is called México D.F. (Distrito Federal), and it’s surrounded by the state of Mexico. There were about 19 million people living there as of 2009.

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The center of the city has a large paved plaza called the Zócalo. There you can find some of the city’s most important buildings, including the city and state government buildings, as well as a Catholic cathedral. Public celebrations, including the country’s Independence Day observance, are held here, too. The enormous Mexican flag is raised and lowered each day. In this picture you can also see some of Mexico City’s famous smog, caused by the city’s geography and vehicles for all those millions of people. There are now many environmental programs in place to cut pollution and clear the air, so to speak. Imagine how impressive a view of the endless city surrounded by volcanoes would look then… ojalá.

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Mexico City has been an important place since pre-Hispanic times. When the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés arrived in Mexico in 1519, this city was called Tenochtitlán and it was the center of the Mexica (Aztec) empire. The Templo Mayor (principal temple) was destroyed by the Spanish and covered by the modern city. In 1978, some electrical workers digging near the Zócalo stumbled upon a buried artifact from the temple, which renewed public interest in excavating the area. Now you can visit the Templo Mayor archeological site and museum near one corner of the Zócalo. This large statue is one of the many pre-Hispanic objects you can see in the temple.

Puebla from the 7th floor of the Holiday Inn rooftops and church spires

Just a few hours south of the capital, Puebla is a beautiful colonial city. Although it’s the fourth-largest city in the country, the centro histórico has an old-fashioned feel. Besides the beautiful architecture, Puebla is also famous for its food and traditional talavera pottery.

Oaxaca Tamayo ofrenda

If there’s one city that captures the essence of Southern Mexico, it’s Oaxaca City. With a more rural feel, more visible indigenous culture, and its own beautiful archeological site, Monte Albán, full of pyramids and ancient ball courts, just outside the city, Oaxaca is worth spending days in. The name of the city and the state are pronounced “wa-HA-ca.” You can buy chapulines (fried grasshoppers) from a sidewalk vendor or walk down a “chocolate road” whose shops and chocolate factory smell delicious. One of the best times to visit Oaxaca is November 1st and 2nd for Día de los Muertos. The city is full of ofrendas (offerings) to the dead, like the one above for Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo.

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The Mexican countryside is beautiful too. This picture was taken from the window of a train en route from Guadalajara to the town of Tequila. Visitors tour a tequila factory and see the whole process of tequila-making, from agave cactus (above) to finished product. And they give you “all you can eat” food and drink on the tour- yum!

Feria de Puebla - chapulines y  cerveza- alimentacion del futuro

No trip to Mexico would be complete without tasting some delicious Mexican food. You can sample the previously-mentioned chapulines at many places in Southern Mexico, like the Puebla state fair (above.) Other interesting dishes include escamoles (ant eggs), sesos (cow brains, usually in a taco), gusanos de maguey (caterpillars, usually fried), menudo (tripe soup), and huitlacoche (corn smut, usually in a quesadilla.)

Exquisitas Gringas

Not all Mexican food has the “yuck” factor, though. There are plenty of dishes that you might recognize from your local Mexican restaurant. Chalupas, cemitas, tamales, atole, pozole, and sopa azteca are some of my favorites, although, to be honest, the “real” versions of these foods that I eat in Mexico are often very different from what you get in Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurants in other countries. There are tacos and tostadas, too, as well as gringas, which are like a combination of a taco and a quesadilla. I took a picture of this sign because, of course, a gringa is also a way to refer to an American woman. (Cue music by The Guess Who.)

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No trip to Mexico would be complete without watching some folkloric dance. Each state has its own traditional costume and dance. The most famous of these is el Jarabe Tapatío, from Guadalajara, Jalisco, known to the wider world as the Mexican Hat Dance. Here is another, called Arcos y Tejedores (“Arches and Weavers”), performed by children at a public school celebration on Mother’s Day.

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Many traditional dances have roots in indigenous cultures. These dancers are part of Ritual a Quetzalcoatl, a yearly event performed at the spring equinox on the pyramid in Cholula, Puebla. This dance group was from the Program for Mexican Culture and Society in Puebla, a study abroad program at the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, who learned about Mexican culture and music firsthand through dance.

Editor’s note: Did you enjoy this guest post? If you have some nice photos of a Latin American country you’d like to share as we did here with some short descriptions, please email me to be a part of this special travel series!

Día de los Muertos Pet Portraits (Giveaway!)

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Robin Arthur is an artist out of San Antonio, Texas who creates amazing pet portraits inspired by Día de los Muertos themes and colors. When I stumbled upon her art last week, I contacted her to find out more because I knew you guys would love her work as much as I do. Below is my interview with Robin and a giveaway you can enter for a chance to win a print of her art!

Tell us about these pet portraits you do.

Robin: The portraits are based on photos that my customers send to me via email. I use pencil, pen and acrylic paint to create them. They are painted on wooden, box-like canvases. Sometimes I texture them by building up the paint into 3D textures or by sanding them with sandpaper. Many customers ask me to inject certain design elements into the paintings. For example: one recent customer’s dog takes Prozac, so I was asked to insert a little Prozac pill into the final piece. I love that!

Who/what influences/inspires your art?

Robin: I’ve always been drawn to the bright, warm colors in Mexican folk art. I love the hyper stylistic imagery of the Día de los Muertos holiday, Talavera tiles, Mexican interior design elements, Tex Mex kitsch, and so on. I am also inspired by the love people have for their furry family members and all other animals. I’m inspired by the animal kingdom in general and want to honor the world’s creatures by elevating them to an art form. I love making people happy by painting their beloved companions in my whimsical, silly style. People have been brought to (happy) tears by my paintings. There is so much pain in this world. It’s nice to be a bright spot for someone!

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Although you were born and raised in Texas, surrounded by Mexican culture, you yourself are not of Mexican descent – Can you talk a little bit about that? How did Mexican culture become part of you?

Robin: The Mexican culture, while not my own culture, has always been the “wallpaper” of my life. Growing up in Texas means that you are surrounded by Mexican art, music, food, beautiful faces and, of course, the Spanish language. I lived in Arkansas for about 8 months in 2012 and didn’t realize, until I’d left Texas, how much I missed being around the Mexican culture. I’m so glad to be back in Texas!

If someone wanted to hire you to paint one of these portraits of their pet, how does it work?

Robin: The process is explained on my website, but basically, all people do is email me photos of their pets, pay the invoice I send them, and then I paint. It’s super easy!

RobiniArt portraits make great gifts and are a wonderful way to honor a furry family member, past or present. The portraits are completely original, a bright spot for any interior design, and a much better investment than something you can buy in a mall or big box store.

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Want to learn more about Robin Arthur’s art? Interested in ordering a custom portrait? Visit RobiniArt.com or “like” her Facebook page here.

===GIVEAWAY CLOSED. CONGRATS TO FREDDA!===

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Prize description: Robin is giving away one 8×10 print to one lucky random winner, to be picked out by the winner from RobiniArt.com!

How to Enter: To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below sharing a favorite pet memory or telling us what you like best about Robin’s art. (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 company/person in charge of prize fulfillment. 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 48 hours to respond. After 48 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between October 2nd, 2013 through October 6th, 2013. Entries received after October 6th, 2013 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!

Disclosure: No compensation, monetary or otherwise, was given for this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

How to Make a Día de los Muertos Nicho

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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.

October is my favorite time of year, not just because it’s autumn, (which is my favorite season), but because this is the time of year when all kinds of creative Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) crafts and products start to pop up all over the place in preparation for the November holiday.

For Día de los Muertos, many people in Latin America create an ofrenda, or altar, to honor their deceased loved ones, so I knew I wanted to create something along those lines.

While walking around Lowe’s to brainstorm ideas, I walked past the wood moulding and noticed how the crown corners looked like little houses when turned the wrong way and this reminded me of the nichos I used to make. Nichos are a beautiful Latin American folk art which incorporate mixed media in the style of a shadow box and often serve as a religious altar. Because I already keep photos of our deceased loved ones on a permanent altar of sorts, I decided to make a nicho to honor the iconic Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo.

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If you want to make a Día de los Muertos nicho, follow the directions below to get started now!

Día de los Muertos Nicho

You need:

1 large crown corner (wood moulding)
wood glue
3/8 x 4 x 24 inch pine craft board
3/4 in. x 1 in. brass hinges
2 cabinet knobs
craft paints and brushes
hand saw
small hammer
1/16 drill bit
3/16 drill bit
drill
miniature screwdrivers
measuring tape
pencil
safety glasses
sandpaper
decorations of your choosing
small photo of deceased person you’re honoring
battery operated candles

Directions:

1. Remove stickers from the wood. Lightly sand to remove stickiness if needed.

2. Carefully knock out triangular corner supports inside the corner crown.

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3. Sand the corner crown to remove glue and rough edges.

4. Cut the craft board so you have two 7 1/2 inch pieces. The third piece set aside for another project.

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5. One 7 1/2 inch piece will be the bottom of the nicho. The other 7 1/2 inch piece should be cut into two equal pieces measuring 3 3/4 inch – These will be the doors of the nicho. Sand these pieces.

6. Measure and pre-drill holes on doors and sides of nicho for the tiny screws that came with the hinges. (I pre-drilled these with a 1/16 bit and used my Rockwell 3RILL, which is my new favorite tool. Full disclosure: Rockwell gave the drill to me to use on my Lowe’s projects.)

Also drill holes to attach the cabinet knobs – I used a 3/16 drill bit for those.

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7. Paint pieces desired colors. Allow to dry. (Sand lightly for a slightly weathered look.)

8. Screw the knobs on the doors through the 3/16 holes you drilled. (Depending on the knobs you bought, you may prefer to find shorter bolts than the ones that came with the knob due to the width of the wood.)

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9. Use a mini-screwdriver to attach the hinges to doors and then doors to nicho where you have pre-drilled holes.

10. Use wood glue to attach the bottom piece to the bottom of the nicho. Allow to dry.

11. Place photo, battery operated candles (real candles absolutely not advised!) and other decorations inside. Display on a shelf or attach a picture hanger to the back for wall display.

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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.

A Trip to: Bolivia

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Editor’s note: Welcome to the Hispanic Heritage Month “A Trip to” series here on Latinaish. Join us as we virtually visit different Latin American countries through the photos and words of people who live there, have lived there, or have visited and have a lot of love for that particular place. Today Susan of Medina Adventures shows us around Bolivia!

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One of my favorite parts of visiting La Paz, Bolivia, is the descent along the highway, from the airport into the heart of the city. I get butterflies every single time and not just because I’m afraid of heights – It’s anticipating the breathtaking views, like this one of the snowy Illimani mountain watching over the city, that makes my heart leap into my throat.

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I’ve never been a city girl, but La Paz is definitely a big time city with amazing architecture and brilliant colors, even on an overcast day. Each building is different; there are no cookie-cutter houses here. And some buildings are so close to the edge of the cliffs, that they look like giant Jenga towers – I’m amazed at how they don’t topple over.

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On my first visit to La Paz, I didn’t know what these green things were. Any guesses? – They’re trash cans! So then I couldn’t figure out why they’d be up on those poles. It’s brilliant, really, it’s so the street dogs can’t dig through it and scatter the trash all over the place. I also find it interesting how little trash is in there. Reusable bags are brought to markets, and most things are sold by the kilo, so there is little packaging to be thrown away.

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La Paz is also famous for its street parades. Dancers swish to the music of marching bands and leaders signal with whistles. That is my daughter and her cousins dancing in those beautiful green costumes. Along the path of the parade, you can see locals dressed in traditional clothing – polleras (ruffled skirts), shawls, and bowler hats. There’s also a mom carrying her daughter on her back in an aguayo, the brightly colored woven cloth. Rain or shine, vendors will be selling on the streets of La Paz, anything from fruits to jeans.

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I remember telling my camera, “Take, take, take!” as we were leaving this picturesque street in Coroico. I loved the colors of the buildings, the cobblestones, and the little market set up right in the middle of it all. Coroico is often a vacation destination for people in La Paz, since it is only a two hour drive from the city and is in a subtropical part of the country.

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This is my husband after a four hour trek down the mountain which started at La Cumbre, 14000 feet above sea level. He’s ready to hitch a ride back up. The row of buildings with corrugated metal roofs is a typical sight on the roadsides and will usually offer lunch or sell little snacks.

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And finally, this is my son enjoying the Sunday tradition of chicharrón, mote and limonada (fried pork, corn, and limeade). See that giant plate of food? That’s for one person! I can never finish all the food they give me at one sitting, and I usually discreetly pass it to my husband (which is why he always gains weight when we go back!) And those red plastic chairs? Coca-Cola propaganda is everywhere in Bolivia. Toma lo bueno!

Editor’s note: Did you enjoy this guest post? If you have some nice photos of a Latin American country you’d like to share as we did here with some short descriptions, please email me to be a part of this special Hispanic Heritage Month series!

Happy Independence Day, Central America!

I always wish El Salvador a Happy Independence Day, but yesterday I received a sweet email from un hermanito guatemalteco who wondered if I’d show a little love for neighboring countries, so here I am. Feel free to right click and save any of these five images below to your computer and then send them via email and social media to your amigos from all over Central America!

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Image used Creative Commons. Original image source: HERE.

ElSalvador_Independence
Image used Creative Commons. Original image source: HERE.

Guatemala_Independence
Image used Creative Commons. Original image source: HERE.

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Image used Creative Commons. Original image source: HERE.

Nicaragua_independence
Image used Creative Commons. Original image source: HERE.

El Festival Salvadoreño Americano

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Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation is in italics!

Me di cuenta de que no he compartido mis fotos del Festival Salvadoreño Americano que fuimos el mes pasado en Wheaton, Maryland y hoy es un buen día para compartirlas, ya que viene el Día de la Independencia de El Salvador este fin de semana.

I realized that I haven’t shared my photos from the Salvadoran American Festival we went to last month in Wheaton, Maryland and today is a good day to share them since El Salvador’s Independence Day is this weekend.

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El Festival fue muy bien organizado por Salvadoran-American Transnational Communities y el Condado de Montgomery. Había suficiente estacionamiento a poca distancia y estaba cerca de la estación de METRO si uno no viene en carro.

Salvadoreños caminaban en grupos grandes por las aceras hacia el sonido de la cumbia y el olor de las pupusas. Cruzamos las calles juntos, esquivamos el tráfico, intercambiamos miradas y nos reímos. “Todos vamos a ser atropellados”, alguien bromeó. Éramos como niños tras el flautista de Hamelín.

The Festival was very well organized by Salvadoran-American Transnational Communities and Montgomery County. There was sufficient parking nearby and it was close to a METRO station for those that did not come by car.

Salvadorans walked down the sidewalks in large groups toward the sound of cumbia and the smell of pupusas. We crossed streets together, dodged traffic, exchanged looks and laughed. “We’re all going to get run over,” someone joked. We were like children following the Pied Piper.

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Por supuesto, la primera cosa que hicimos fue caminar alrededor para ver qué comidas queríamos comer.

Of course, the first thing we did was walk around to see which foods we wanted to eat.

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(La camisa de este hombre me hizo reír: “La salsa que te hara llorar puro bichito.”)

(This guy’s shirt made me laugh: “The salsa will make you cry like a little kid.”)

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Decidimos empezar con agua de coco. No sé por qué mi hijito siempre lo prueba cuando bien sabe que no le gusta. Después de que nos bebimos el agua de coco el hombre lo abrió y nosotros comimos la carne.

We decided to start with coconut water. I don’t know why my younger son always tries it when he knows very well that he doesn’t like it. After we drank the coconut water, the man cut it open and we ate the coconut meat.

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El hombre que cortó los cocos con un machete fue muy gracioso. Todo el mundo estaba tomando su foto y se reía diciendo: “Yo voy a ser famoso!”

The man who cut the coconuts with a machete was hilarious. Everyone was taking his photo and he laughed, saying “I’m going to be famous!”

fruta

Siguiente compramos fruta fresca.

Next we bought fresh fruit.

mamones

Yo prefiero la piña pero quería probar algo nuevo, así que elegí mamones. Me encanta el sabor pero la textura de mamones es algo raro.

I prefer pineapple but I wanted to try something new so I chose mamones. I love the flavor but the texture of mamones is kind of yucky.

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Las tostadas de plátano preperadas con curtido y salsa fueron deliciosas.

The tostadas de platano prepared with curtido and salsa were delicious.

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¿Cómo podíamos resistir pupusas?

How could we resist pupusas?

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A pesar de que estabamos llenos, hacía mucho calor, así que necesitábamos minutas para refrescarnos. El cartel tenía los nombres de las minutas en diferentes países. Fue muy interesante!

Snowcones – Los Estados Unidos
Minutas – El Salvador
Granizadas – Guatemala
Nieves – Honduras
Raspados – México
Raspadillas – SurAmerica
Piraguas – Puerto Rico
Frío-Frío – Rep. Dominicana

Mi hijito y yo decidimos que el nombre “frio-frio” es lo mejor.

Even though we were full, it was hot, so we needed Salvadoran snowcones to cool off. The sign had the name of snowcones in different countries. It was really interesting!

Snowcones – USA
Minutas – El Salvador
Granizadas – Guatemala
Nieves – Honduras
Raspados – Mexico
Raspadillas – South America
Piraguas – Puerto Rico
Frío-Frío – Dominican Republic

My younger son and I decided that the name “frío-frío” was the best.

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Pedí leche condensada azucarada en mi minuta.

I asked for sweetened condensed milk on my snowcone.

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Carlos pidió tamarindo en su minuta.

Carlos asked for tamarind on his snowcone.

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Después de comer demasiado, nos fijamos en todo lo que tenían por venta.

After eating too much, we looked around at all the things they had for sale.

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Fue un excelente festival. Si vives en la zona, te recomiendo que vayas el próximo verano. (Y ven con hambre!)

It’s an excellent festival. If you live in the area, I recommend you go next summer. (And come hungry!)

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Feliz Día de la Independencia a El Salvador y a todos mis amigos de Centroamérica y México!

Happy Independence Day to El Salvador and to all of my Central American and Mexican friends!

The Quince

I am officially the mother of a quinceañero. The party was on Saturday and the house looked very festive. (Although I should say, “more festive than usual” because gringo neighbors have told me our decor looks festive at times when we weren’t celebrating anything at all.)

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Besides the paper flower garland, a few banners, and colorful balloons, I also made a large collage with photos of my son. There are 14 photos in all, one for each year of his life up until now. I had originally planned to leave a spot in the middle for a photo of him as a 15 year old, but there wasn’t space.

The collage was one of many things which didn’t come out quite the way I imagined. You know how quinceañeras trade their flats for high heels? I had planned for my son to trade his sneakers for a pair of formal shoes. While he liked the idea of new shoes, he thought doing any sort of ceremony with them in front of people was “too weird.” So we bought him a pair of shoes but we didn’t do anything special with them during the party.

I had also considered a “brindis” but my family is not really the toasting type. Instead I came up with a creative way for us to “toast” the birthday boy without making a big show of things. I put a stack of index cards and pens on a table with a sign encouraging guests to write down birthday wishes, advice, or a favorite memory from his childhood. The things people wrote were really heartwarming and the cards make a great keepsake for my son.

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As for the food, I had planned to make everything myself but by the time I finished making the tamales, I was so exhausted that we decided to order the pupusas from one of our favorite pupuserías, Santa Rosa in Frederick, Maryland. We were so pleased with the care they took in preparing them and packaging them that I wrote them a “thank you” card today.

Everyone enjoyed the pupusas, tamales and snacking on yucca and plantain chips.

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To drink we served multiple flavors of Jarritos along with a few other choices. My older sister asked me if anyone mixes Jarritos. I told her I don’t know anyone who does but she decided to try mixing the orange and pineapple, (which she says is good.)

Although I had planned to serve the traditional tres leches, my mother offered to make the cake so I let that idea go and told her to make whatever she wanted. She wanted to make the cake look like footballer Lionel Messi’s jersey but decided the amount of dye it would take to achieve the dark red and blue of Barça was not something we should all be eating. Instead she made a chocolate and vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. (The quinceañero didn’t really care what the cake looked like as long as he got to eat it.) We sang “Happy Birthday” in English but before he could blow out the candles, I started up “Feliz Cumpleaños” in Spanish – my family didn’t miss a beat and joined right in.

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After cake we opened presents. The main gift was a much needed laptop which everyone chipped in on. He’ll be taking several Advanced Placement classes this coming school year so the new computer will be put to good use for sure.

That’s pretty much it. It wasn’t the biggest or fanciest quince, I didn’t have fifty primos to invite, no one danced to the salsa and cumbia music that played… While planning the quince I lamented that my family is so small, but when it comes to family it’s quality, not quantity, that matters. My family came and celebrated the life of my now fifteen year old, and he knows he is loved mucho.

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Can You Help Six Quinceañeras in Mexico?

Quinceañeras in colorful dresses parade past Mexico City's Palacio Nacional 2012 / Image source: Javier Hidalgo

Quinceañeras in colorful dresses parade past Mexico City’s Palacio Nacional 2012 / Image source: Javier Hidalgo

At 15 years old many girls in Mexico and throughout Latin America look forward to their quinceañera, the traditional celebration that recognizes a girl’s coming of age, but what about girls who live at an orphanage?

Denisse Montalvan, founder of The Orphaned Earring, wants to make sure six deserving girls at an orphanage in Mexico have their special day, and she needs our help.

The quinceañera celebration for these girls is planned for September 28th, 2013 at Calvary Chapel of Rosarito, Mexico and a reception will be held at Grace Children’s Home, but there’s much to do to prepare. The girls need dresses, heels, tiaras, cake. We want to have their makeup and hair done, too. Denisse is taking donations of all kinds to make this happen – You can make a cash donation or send her a dress for one of the girls, for example, if you happen to have an appropriate one in your closet.

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Other causes/ways you can donate: Denisse will be traveling to Nicaragua at the end of August to give the kids at an orphanage there a summer party. You can donate money for their activities by clicking the “donate” button on The Orphaned Earring. The most creative way you can help is by donating earrings for which you’ve lost the mate. Denisse and her team recycle them into bracelets and sell them to raise funds. You can also purchase these bracelets here.

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