Monday, October 31, 2011

Festival of the Bands

Saturday, 10-29-11

The Festival of the Bands was a lot cooler than it sounds. Well, it was to me. Today was the day that bands from all over the country came to compete here in Berlín. I’m not sure how many there were competing; I want to say something like 25 bands. Plus Berlín’s high school, boy’s school, and girl’s school bands were competing as well. I was in band in middle school and high school so I was excited to see the bands performing today.

Things were supposed to get started around 8am this morning which means that I got there a little after 9am. I told Kathy I’d scope it out. There wasn’t much going on yet when I arrived. Just a lot of people up on stage and someone talking. I ran into Pedro and asked him what was going on. He said they were “getting people bored.” That’s true. There’s always, always a lot of talk before events like this. And it’s usually not very interesting.

I walked a couple loops around the park and then I saw the mayor and the queens of various groups of Berlín processing toward the stage. A little ways ahead of them were the band and dancers from the public kindergarten of Berlin. They made their way up to the stage. The high school band, girl’s school band, and boy’s school band were lined up behind the performing area waiting to play.

I called Kathy to let her know what was going on. Turns out she was also at the park. We found each other and watched the bands approach the town square as we walked to the market. I liked all the different uniforms and instruments they had. Several of the schools had wind instruments in the band which I liked since I played clarinet and saxophone.

We stayed and watched for a little while. Kathy bought me a doughnut for breakfast. They were selling them at a stand set up in the park. It had chocolate frosting and sprinkles which is not something you can find in Berlín. The people running the stand had gone to a bigger city to the buy the food. I usually prefer to eat local, non-store made food when possible, but the doughnut looked really good.

Getting ready in the morning

Here come the kindergarteners

Pretty cute

The kindergarten band

The mayor and the queens

The area where the bands would be performing

Sign for the Berlin high school band

Berlin high school band

Berlin girl's school band

Love the turquoise

Parading down the street


Here comes another band

Some cachiporras

I went back to the house with Kathy after enjoying my doughnut and watching a couple bands. Less than an hour later I was headed back out to the park with Alejandro to watch more bands. We did a couple loops around the park before watching anything. I’ve learned that this is a tradition, kind of like scooping the loop. Then we found a good location to watch the bands.

We were there for over an hour watching several bands. I liked looking at the uniforms of the bands. The ones with turquoise on them really stood out to me since I don’t think I’ve ever seen that color for band uniforms before. There was also a wide variety of instruments with some bands having only a few kinds of instruments and other having many different kinds. Some bands only had 20 people playing while others had almost 50 people.

One thing I found very interesting was the music. I heard one particular song played by five different bands. I recognized the song because it’s one that my school’s band plays. I’m actually singing it right now in my head. I guess it’s a popular song. I also heard Eminem’s song “Love the Way You Lie” played twice as well as a couple Lady Gaga songs. I never thought they could be made into marching band songs.

Most of the bands had cachiporras accompanying them. What is a cachiporra? Good question. I’m not entirely sure how to explain them. They are dancers that perform along with the band. I’d say they’re kind of a cross between high school color guard and cheerleaders. I think their main purpose is to wear revealing outfits and draw attention to the school they are representing. Most of the cachiporras I saw today had very short skirts and boots on. A couple of the outfits were strapless. I’m sure you can imagine what kind of attention they draw.

In the park

Cachiporras with peacock feathers

Getting ready for another band

Lots of people

Here's another group

Interesting outfits

Black and white band

Lined up down the street

Band from El Triunfo

The most conservative outfits I saw

Marching forward

Band from Jiquilisco

More interesting outfits

I like the hats

Coruna Marching Band

This band was huge and played really well

Looking up the street

After a while we headed back to the house, and just like last time I only stayed home a short while before going back to watch the bands. At 2:30pm I grabbed some lunch and went to find a place to stand. I watched as the last bands performed and then the awards were given out. There were several categories including marching band, Latin music band, and show band. I’m not exactly for sure who won what because the way they announced winners was really confusing. But they handed out a ton of trophies, set off a lot of cohetes, and shot confetti all over the place.

By the time I got home I realized that I’d spent most of the day watching the bands. But it was a fun day and I’m glad I had to time to see them.

All crowded around

Playing and dancing


More performances

A sousaphone

Another small performance

Big crowd

At this point everyone had finished

Listening to the awards annoucements

It was a fun day

Band video

One of the bands performing at the
Festival of the Bands in Berlin

Nice dress!!

Friday, 10-28-11

A month or so ago Elmer, Cecilia’s son, who attends the boy’s school where I teach, told me that for one of their classes they were going to be making clothes out of recyclable goods. He told me that they were going to make dresses and that the guys were going to wear the dresses. When he first told me this I was really confused. I thought I’d misheard him. So I asked again. And yes indeed, the guys were going to be wearing dresses. They’d be making things out of chip bags, garbage bags, and other things.

Well, today was the day. There was going to be a fashion show at school. No one had told me (big surprise). So I ran home to get my camera in between classes and they were getting ready when I returned. I saw several guys sporting some nice-looking dresses and they posed for several pictures for me. They were wearing dresses, skirts, shirts, pants, and hats out of chip bags, tablecloths, garbage bags, drinking straws, paper, aluminum foil, and other things. They’d also made flower vases out of bottles and horns.

Getting ready


A lovely group

Young model

I love these dresses!

Some vases made by the students

Lining up

The name of the school and grade

Soon the fashion show began. No one had class so everyone was able to watch. All the guys lined up in front of the stage so the whole school could see their outfits. They began by parading around the main part of the school to some 80’s music. After that a few boys walked around individually while someone talked about their outfits. Then a couple guys got up on the stage to do some sort of demonstration. I’m not exactly sure what it was. They were talking about farming techniques and using machetes and sticks. That’s something that would never be allowed in a school in the US. I think the demonstration had something to do with nature and recycling.

When they’d finished several more guys paraded around in their outfits while someone described what they were wearing. Several of the guys seemed like naturals processing around. Then all the guys in the homemade hats walked around for everyone. Many of the hats were very creative! I got some close up pictures later. After they’d finished walking around the fashion show was over and the guys all walked back to their classrooms.

Parading around

Here comes the first couple


Love the dress

Waving to his fans

All the models

Strutting his stuff

Machete work

Planting seeds

Ta da!

What a ham

The flower in the hat completes the outfit

Here comes the boys with the hats

Looks good

Another parade

Skirt made of straws

Fork hat

Chip bag hat

Showing off his work

Other hats

But the fun wasn’t over yet. There was still some dancing. I’m not sure why but there always seems to be some sort of odd dancing and these kinds of events. And I mean this in the least offensive way: it’s always really bad dancing. The first was a group of three guys and three girls. The dancing they did resembled what you’d see at a high school dance. The next dance was what I believe were three guys trying to rap/break dance/something else. The dancing was finished off with six more students doing another round of high school dancing.

With that the show was completely over. As I walked around to get some pictures of the vases on stage I saw that one of my students had put a mop on his head and a guacal on top of that. I guess he was trying to get in on the fashion show too. Then another student put a mop on his head. I got a couple pictures of them since they weren’t able to participate in the show. Then it was off to teaching again. Oh, the good times I have at school.

The first dance

Some sort of rap

And the final dance

A few of my students

Mop heads

One of the vases I really like