Saturday, 7 April 2012

Poetry, Paska and Alfombras

Easter takes on a special significance here in Honduras. Preparations for Semana Santa have been going on since I got here, culminating in Copan Ruinas with a procession along the alfombra-covered streets on Good Friday. Throughout Lent, the Procession of the Cross passes throughout the streets of Copan Ruinas every Friday evening throughout the year to commemorate Good Friday and reflect on Christ’s suffering. I have been spending some time this weekend just reflecting on the despair and hope that surrounds Easter. One piece of writing that I have been thinking about a lot is the poem “Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward” by one of my favourite poets, John Donne. Here is an excerpt from it:
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit
 For their first mover, and are whirl’d by it.
Hence is ‘t, that I am carried towards the west
This day, when my soul’s form bends towards the east.
There I should see a sun, by rising set,
And by that setting endless day beget;
But that Christ on this Cross, did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.

I agree with Donne that the forces of business and pleasure so often move us from the course that we want - and are created - to take in life. Just as he writes that his “soul’s form bends towards the east” but he is carried by the distractions of business or pleasure towards the west, it is all too easy to be distracted from the miracle of Christ’s death and resurrection. It is so easy to neglect to focus on the bizarre reality that “a sun, by rising set, and by that setting endless day beget.”
Here in Honduras it can feel like people focus almost exclusively on the “setting” of the sun – Christ’s death – with little to no focus on the endless day that comes from it – the resurrection. My prayer for myself is that I will begin to focus more on the resurrection in my personal life, trying to focus on the east in spite of the distractions around me. Just a few of my thoughts on the eve before Easter!
Anyways, here are some photos I took of the alfombras here in Copan Ruinas. They were made Thursday night, with people working on them past midnight. The procession of people carrying the cross over the alfombras to the cathedral happened on Friday night.

Here are some photos of the central park in Copan. I still can't believe I live in such a beautiful place!

Another highlight of this Easter weekend has been embracing the Easter tradition of making paska together with the help of Katie, who is the director of Camp Hope at UPH. Baking paska in Honduras is a different experience. Here are some photos from the journey!

If you look very closely you will notice that the "Gold Star" flour is listed as "especial para baleadas" (translation: special for making baleadas). I discovered when making paska that this means it is NOT special for making paska! We ended up using three packages of baleada flour in our attempts to make functioning dough!

The above photo documents our attempts to beating the egg whites into "stiff peaks."  We discovered through this journey that humid climates are NOT ideal for beating egg whites and spent a very long time fruitlessly trying to beat the eggs into submission. Another Honduran addition to our baking experience was the presence of many ants throughout the kitchen. Although lime zest and orange zest are very delicious, zest of ant is not quite as appetising. My apologies if anyone eating our paska discovers a little added protein; we fought a valiant fight against any insects so it should be (mostly) safe!

As you can see, Katie and I enjoyed posing with our batter. This was a first for both of us and I wanted to document these moments!

And finally...we had paska! After starting the process at 9am, we had delicious paska ready to go by about 3:30pm. I now understand why we only make paska once a year at Easter! I look forward to sharing paska with friends tomorrow.

As I look forward to Easter tomorrow, here is another excerpt of poetry written by another favourite writer, Gerard Manley Hopkins:
“Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east”

May our hearts be turned towards the east in the midst of this busy Easter season!


  1. Haha ew ant paska. Good for you for taking on that endeavor! I will continue to accept paska from relatives instead of making my own :D

    1. Heidi dear Heidi, if I can make paska I am sure you can too :) I hope that one day we can have a baking party together!!

    2. I just realized now that you've been responding to my comments! haha. Yes a baking party! remember when I baked cookies in your basement with a friend of yours? Maybe Tracy? That was fun :)