Sunday, November 8, 2009

Carrera de las Cintas

We had an interesting experience over a recent weekend. We went to the Festival de Maiz held in a small town about an hour away from here, at the invitation of a PC volunteer located there. Entering the town, we found a number of the streets leading into the central plaza decorated with garlands of elaborate dolls and figures made from corn husks. The women of the town had spent weeks making all of these decorations hanging across the streets. The parade was just starting when we arrived. For those of you familar with Bisbee parades, it looked very familiar. There were a dozen or so pickups and a few ox carts decorated with corn themes and with corn queens and princesses on the back. There were a couple of marching bands --not clear whether this is an economic thing or a cultural preference, but the bands generally lack horns and wind instruments, have a lot of drums and engage in intricate marching formations. The only unusual thing about the parade was the fact that at this event, only a month before the elections, there was not a single politician riding in the parade or campaigning in the crowd. The population of this town of several thousand had more than tripled for this event. There were a lot of food booths, music and a small town gathering feeling.

The most interesting event was the carrera de las cintas (race of the ribbons). In this event, the guys with the good horses - not the ones that you usually see carrying wood or milk on a daily basis - line up on a dirt street about 100 yards from where a rope, about ten feet high, has been hung across the street. Attached to the rope are little ribbons (or velcro strips) with metal rings, about an inch in diameter, attached to each one. The riders head toward the ribbons at full speed, one after another, and attempt to put something like a pencil through the hole of the ring as they ride by. When they catch a ring, it pulls off of the rope and they wave it over their heads. It is pretty difficult to do this, so there are a lot of attempts before most everyone finally gets it done. The fast horses and the crowd and the general lack of any reasonable safety precautions make it an exciting event. When a rider does get a ring, he is awarded a red scarf and gets a kiss from a young girl. I think that there is an entry fee, so it also works as a fund raiser for the festival.

Back on the political front here, things seem sort of like this type of contest. It is hard to get an accord through a small ring, at full speed. Careful readers will recall that last week we wondered how the unity government would really be structured. It appears that we were not the only one who thought that there might be some confusion with this point. The two sides had very different interpretations of this provision. Mel Zelaya, the former president, thought that this meant that he would be restored to power by Thursday, apparently. We did not read it this way, but our Spanish is suspect. But neither did the current administration, who just forwarded a list of recommended names to participate in a unity government. Zelaya responded by stating that the deal was off and the accord was broken. It appears from press reports that the U.S and other foreign powers really want the election to continue to go forward now, even if the former president does not at this point, so we will see what happens next. The ballots are already being sent out to the voting sites in preparation for the Nov. 29th election date.

We have had a relatively dry fall until this week. By mid week we were getting weather caused by a Class 1 hurrican, Ida, that hit the coast of Nicaragua and caused some damage there. Honduras missed the winds, but got a lot of rain, which has continued through the weekend. Here in our city, we are just damp, but life and travel are more difficult out in the rural areas. It looks like this storm may strengthen and will be a late tropical storm or hurrican on the gulf coast in a couple of days. We will be connected with you in having shared that one.

All is well here.

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