Friday, December 18, 2009

Walk Like an Egyptian

Greetings on This Last Day of School

The campus is very festive today and spirits are high. Little ones and big ones came by my room this morning proudly delivering holiday packages “To the Art Teacher”. All over campus students are practicing their routines for Song Fest tonight. The multi-cultural nature of our school means that this event is mostly lip sync and dance to popular music. Some classes go all out and hire choreographers and have professional costumes made. It is definitely and pointedly not a Christmas program. However, the school choir will wear blue robes and sing real Christmas music.

The second graders selected a Michael Jackson song that has a reference to Egyptians. So, in art class we have been making their costumes. The boys used the sewing machine to make a simple seam for their wrap around “sarong”. The girls have twisted crepe paper to add to their headdresses. Both boys and girls have made the all important cobra snake head to adorn their gold headdresses.

Tuesday we put all the elements together and posed for pictures. Each student’s headdress was “fitted” and the snake attached. All the effort was well rewarded when I handed them the mirror to look at themselves. Oh, such smiles and sparkling eyes.

One by one they were dressed in their regalia and went off to admire themselves, practice their dance moves and just plain play. Boys got on their knees and bowed down to girls. They took turns sitting on the stack of extra chairs at the side of the room, turning it into a makeshift throne. Giggles abounded.

Tonight is their big night. Moms and dads will gather with students in the art room to get dressed. Moms will put the make up around the eyes and some girls will even get to wear lipstick.

It may not be a Christmas program but the Spirit is here; families adoring children, a community coming together in joy and harmony. Ah, it is the Season!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fabric Shopping In Tegucigalpa

Elena in center waiting for needles. Ribbons, ribbons, ribbons!

Fabrics to make your mouth water. Clerk and papers at school supply store.

Fabric Shopping in Tegucigalpa

Next week is SongFest at Discovery School. From what I can gather it is an evening of musical fun where each grade level performs to popular music. The second grade class has selected a Michael Jackson song that at some point refers to Egyptians. Therefore, they want to dress like Egyptians, ancient Egyptians of course. Their teacher Miss Elena asked if I could help with making headdresses for them to wear. And since one thing leads to another, I have expanded the “lesson” to include making tunics and “wraps” to wear with the headdresses.

I made creative use of the meager materials (crepe paper and heavy paper) available in the art room but found that the gold paint I was hoping to use for the head pieces was not useable. Then we expanded our scope to include sewing the costume itself. Miss Elena provided a singer sewing machine and offered to take me shopping for the other materials. So Saturday morning I set out for new views and places, leaving Debbie curled up with her book.

Our first stop was Cortitelas Morazan, the fabric store. Ah! It is a huge fabric store with long aisles of every kind of fabric from gingham to silk satin. Pulse and respiration increased as anyone who is familiar with the saying, “the one who dies with the most fabric wins”, will understand. With Elena the official translator we quickly found exactly what we needed. Sixty inch wide white cotton-poly blend at only 30 Limperas a yard. That is about $1.50 a yard plus 12% sales tax.
We purchased 20 yards. Then we roamed the aisles soaking up the colors, patterns and textures.

As I walked and looked and touched I sped back and forth through time. I was standing knee high to my mother while she touched and figured and planned her fabric purchases. I heard my little brother whine pathetically at the end of along downtown shopping day, “not more ‘terial”. I saw every costume that was made for me or by me, every prom dress, school dress, party dress. I recalled the dress friend Judy made to add to my small college wardrobe and the evening dress she made for me as a young married out of the 10 yards at ten cents a yard gray jersey knit fabric my mom had bought thinking I might need to make an elephant costume someday. I may still have the “elephant dress” somewhere in the garage.

They had eight different patterns of animal print upholstery fabric, long rows of drapery and curtain fabric, terrycloth, wedding and evening satins encrusted with seed pearls and crystals, veiling in every imaginable color, taffetas, jersey, gabardines and men’s suiting and shirting fabrics, a fabric feast! And for every fabric a happy memory. We wandered as long as my energy held out then headed for the cashier and on to the next stop.

When I set up Elena’s sewing machine I found the needle was broken so it was onto the “notions” store. The fabric shop sold only fabric, no needles, no threads etc. The notions store is located in a moderate sized two story enclosed mall. We took the elevator up to the second floor to the small shop. The front window was full of bundles of small ribbon roses in every color. Inside, one wall was covered in spools of ribbon, another embroidery thread and buttons. The cases full of pins, needles, bobbins, safety pins, thread, thimbles, more buttons, even google eyes. We took our number and waited and looked. Then when it was our turn we showed our broken needle to the clerk, who disappeared to the back of the shop and returned with a match, Singer 1024. We selected thread and pins. I snapped a few pictures and we left. We stopped at the center of the mall at the CafĂ© American kiosk and order coffees and sat and sipped giving us time to get to know each other a bit better.

Elena is a bright woman who started in “banking”. She got her degree in business and international banking and went to work for a firm in Tegucigalpa. In a few years she was awarded a fellowship by the Italian embassy to study in Milan, Italy. She earned her masters degree in international banking there and came home. She returned to her banking firm and eventually married. It was when she was expecting her first child she decided to make a career change. Twelve years and one more child later she had her teaching degree and started teaching at Discovery School. She chose between “the big paycheck” and enjoying her work and her family. I think she has no regrets.

Coffee finished we head for the Utiles de Honduras a small office and school supply store. There we find sheets of gold and silver paper fit for Egyptian royalty. I add a box of colored chalk and a pad of drawing to the basked and snap a picture of our helpful clerk.

We drive up down and around to get back to my side of the valley, Elena helps carry in the parcels and she is off on her busy Saturday. She has received several calls while we were out and about and I am sure has had things added to her list. One friend, who is having a barbeque party tonight, has asked for the loan of her maid. So she must go home and “carry” her to her friend’s house.
I get a little glimpse into another woman’s world. For me I am happy to be home with my goodies ready for the school week, ready to reflect on the sights and scenes of the morning and ready to share it with you all.