“What role does art play in preserving local customs and traditions?”
There was plenty of art around on our amazing CULTURE DAY!
We started off in the morning with the super traditional gallo pinto for breakfast, along with a tortilla, Nicaraguan cheese and tiste to drink. There were quite a few inspired descriptions of tiste, including “beach in a glass(?)” and overall the drink seemed to be hit or miss. We better get used to it though, since it’s quite common at our favorite restaurant!
After breakfast, we made our group agreement, coming up with our commitments in a pleasantly short period of time, and then we all very appropriately signed it. Then there was our snowball fight-seminar held by our wonderful GGLs before we headed off to… San Juan de Oriente!
San Juan de Oriente is a little pottery town on the outskirts of Granada. By little we mean there’s one “main” street that’s about 4 blocks long, one church (a necessity), and one central park (also a necessity). We passed a few shops with their wares in the entrances, as well as several murals and painted stairs, before arriving at La Urraca, a pottery workshop owned and operated by Don José Alfredo and his family. We were fortunate enough to be able to meet his entire family today: his wife Nancy and his 5 children!
We learned a little about the history of the workshop and the types of pieces they create. Don José Alfredo and his family produce three different types of artwork: pre-Colombian designs, modern contemporary designs, and household ceramics with more practical purposes such as mugs and bowls. For his contemporary pieces, Don José Alfredo takes Escher, among other influences, as a source of inspiration, though his real passion lies in pre-Colombian pottery and preserving the culture and heritage of his ancestors.
We learned some more technical details as well, about the firing process and adding color. After following Don José Alfredo to his handmade kiln, we discovered mini vases waiting for us! We were able to paint them with acrylics and take them home, and everyone had a turn on the pottery wheel, attempting to recreate similar designs.
By the way, Don José Alfredo has a new painting assistant. Zoe also has a new job. These may or may not be related statements.
We said goodbye to Don José Alfredo and his family, and we went back to Granada to have lunch. We ate vigorón, which is THE traditional dish of Granada. If you visit Granada at any time, you have to try the vigorón. Our students can confidently say that they’ve done that! Our food was accompanied by a bright pink (yes pink) drink called chicha de maíz.
In the afternoon we welcomed Xochiltquetzal, a folklore dance group, to our hostel. They showed us examples of three different traditional dances of Nicaragua, followed by a salsa dancing and dare I say booty shaking session. Everyone was really into the activity, and it was really great to see all that energy!
After sweating out the large quantities of water they had been drinking, everyone sat in a large circle with the youth members of Xochiltquetzal and played “Zoo”, a game where everyone has their own personal animal sign. Even with over 23 animals to choose from, the starfish always seemed to turn into a sloth…
After this quality time with Xochiltquetzal, we went to have a pasta with garlic bread dinner. The peach tea was also delicious. The night wasn’t over yet though, not without sidesplitting jokes from Erik, our beloved GGL and next ELDD! Because… what do you call fake pasta? Im-pasta-r! What has four wheels and flies? A dump truck! Why did the bubblegum cross the road?
We’ll leave that one up to you.