Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Faces around Antigua

A very common Antigua site
I've been taking a few photography workshops with a local photographer, and our last outing was all about street photography.  I love taking pictures of people, but this workshop challenged me to take close-up pictures of people without asking as well as asking some people if I could take their picture.  I had to step out of my comfort zone, but found that I really enjoyed capturing these moments.  We were also asked to capture people "engrossed in an activity" and "in conversations."
One of many artists on Arch Street
This guy posed for someone else in the class, so I grabbed a shot too
Marimba players with some beautiful indigenous women behind them
A happy tourist
Very happy Marimba player and my only portrait I asked for all day
In conversation...
Urban landscape - Arch street

Lost tourists
He was enjoying the marimba music
Always working
Harley-Davidson guy
Beautiful items for sale and such determination in her face
This woman just made me smile

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lenten preparations

Lent has arrived, which is a very busy time in Antigua with many vigils and processions throughout town each weekend leading up to Semana Santa (Holy Week)  The floats that are carried in the many processions are stored in one area of town that I've never seen open.  Last weekend, I walked by and it was open and men were painting and repairing the floats in preparation for the many processions.


The row of floats

An interesting scene is set to the side

Very intense concentration

I remember seeing this float last year and wondering what it meant.  I still don't know.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Two weeks without a working shower

Life is full of adventures and surprises when living abroad.  One common source of conversation is about bathrooms and showers, because what is the norm here is quite different from what we are used to back home.  So, what do we have here?  Great question!  We have electric hot water units attached to a water pipe directly above your head in the shower.  And as most people are shorter than the average American, the shower head is lower than normal.  This adds excitement to your morning routine, as most people at some point accidentally touch the heater unit while showering for an extra jolt to wake you up.  Thankfully, the voltage is low so those little jolts aren't too dangerous.  And once you do it, you rarely do it again!

This all takes some getting used to, but in the end, it's really not that different.  Sometimes you just have to keep the water pressure a bit lower to get some heat, but generally these systems work well.  Unfortunately, mine broke a few weeks ago.  It was attempted to be repaired several times, but ultimately had to be replaced with a nicer (and yes safer) unit.  However, 2 weeks without a hot shower was interesting...
Typical shower in Latin America with an electric water heater connected to water source
Shower head close-up
So, if there's not hot water in the shower, there is also no hot water in any faucet.
So, what do you do without a shower for 2 weeks?  You take bucket showers.  I perfected the task of heating up water on the stove - yes just a gallon per "shower".  I really saved on water in these two weeks!  It also got me thinking about what a luxury hot water and showers are.  Many other traveling friends have had similar (and worse) experiences, so in the grand scheme, I'm grateful I only had to deal with this for two weeks.  However, it was a good reality check and insight into how many, many people in the world live.
Just a gallon per shower
In the end, I now have a wall heater unit which pumps hot water into the shower through the hot water pipe.  It's very nice!  Unfortunately, the pipe under the shower was broken which added an extra week (and lots of dust) to the completion date.  However, it's done now and I've never been happier to have a hot shower!

It works great even though it looks a bit like an octopus is coming out of the wall! 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Family Fun in California

After visiting Hawaii in January, I went to San Jose, California for 10 days to hang with the family.  Lots of great food was eaten (are you sensing a theme in my vacations yet) and good times were had!
While the kids were in school one day - we went to the beach!
Owen teaching us how to play Mouse Trap

Erica showing off her Guatemalan gifts

With Mom

With Erica - she turned 9 while I was there - inconceivable!

With Owen - being a ham as always

With Dad

Owen asked Santa for a rubber chicken and got it!

Playing chess with 6 people - only Owen knew how to play this version so it was interesting but fun

A rare quiet moment for O
Selfies were the theme of much of our time together...

The bored look




Just crazy

Erica, Owen, and I went to paint pottery for an outing one day.  They each painted their own item and then together we painted a coffee mug for me which I use everyday at work!

Finished items - my mug is on the table
One day while the kiddos were in school, the adults went to the beach to soak up some sun and beautiful scenery.