Cultural

Experience 48 of 52: Civil War Reenactment

To enhance our understanding of the Civil War, experience 48 was spent observing a Civil War reenactment at the local Farm Museum. During this experience, we meandered through a mock Civil War encampment and watched a small reenactment of a civil war battle.

We also learned that “hoop rolling” and the “Game of Graces” were popular activities for young girls during the Civil War period. The purpose of the “Game of Graces” was to make young girls more graceful.

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Experience 47 of 52: The Walter’s Art Museum

The Walter’s Art Museum is one of our favorite local places to visit. Although we’d visited many times, this was the first during our 52 week journey. As it was near Easter, we made our way to visit the icons and religious symbols exhibit.

We learned that a “miter” is a headdress worn by bishops during the liturgy. An example one we say was made in 1724 and depicts the story of Jesus’ resurrection.

We also reviewed the “Icon with the Crucifixion” and discussed the meaning of Easter in Christianity.

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Experience 46 of 52: Geppi’s Entertainment Museum

Geppi’s Entertainment Museum displays a timeline of popular culture artifacts. From comics to collectibles, the museum introduced the gals to the history of pop culture.

The favorite exhibits were the Star Wars characters, the “old fashioned” telephone and the “I Love Lucy” episodes that were playing on the antique television. Kate was very disappointed in Princess Leia and her skimpy dress and couldn’t understand why someone would dress that way. I hope that thought continues.

Not surprisingly, our favorite activity was hands-on creating masterpieces using Colorforms. We learned that Colorforms were the first plastic-based creative toy that was advertised on television.

The museum provided a trivia-based scavenger hunt that led the girls through the museum and, after completion, the girls were rewarded with a comic book of their own. This was a nice touch and added some purpose the museum tour.

Although interesting, in my opinion, the museum was a bit overpriced. If there was something we learned it was that commercialism has reigned supreme for centuries.

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Experience 35 of 52: Tulum

Tulum was a beautifully located coastal port believed to have been one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Mayans.  The ruins of Tulum provide a glimpse into the life of the Mayan people living from 500 – 700 years ago.  It was protected on one side by a steep cliff and on the other by what was believed to have been about a 15 foot tall wall that was around 25 feet thick and over 1000 feet long.  Defense of the city was obviously very important to the Mayans.

The ruins included three major structures:

  • El Castillo – a shrine that is believed to have been used as a beacon for incoming trading partners
  • Temple of the Frescoes – used as an observatory for tracking the movements of the sun
  • Temple of the Diving/Descending God – central to the site so it is believed to be a key God

We considered seeing the ruins as necessary since the upcoming “end of the Mayan calendar” had some folks predicting the end of the world.  It was cool to see firsthand the structures that were built by these folks.

You can also trek down to the beach at the base of the cliffs and take a swim in the ocean water.  We passed on this option because we wanted to leave time for a same day trip to Xel Ha.

The ruins at Tulum are smaller than those we previously saw at Chicken Itza but the trip is shorter.  When the gals are older we will consider making another trip to Chicken Itza which was named one of the new 7 wonders of the world in 2006 which happens to be the year that Susan and I visited the site.  We decided to visit Tulum this time because the trip was shorter and would be enough to give the gals an introduction to the Mayan culture and architecture.  We’d recommend visiting Tulum if visiting with younger children and Chicken Itza if visiting with older children.

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Experience 32 of 52: Public Market, Cancun

One of our cultural experiences in Cancun involved the local market where upon arrival we were greeted by every vendor within shouting distance seeking to sell us overpriced t-shirts, wood carvings or jewelry among many other trinkets. We reached the market via the local public bus which was an experience in and of itself. Racing through the streets hoping that you figure out the correct stop before going beyond the presumed safety of the tourist zone while the driver is petal to the metal and hard on the break as if he is racing and jostling for position in the Indy 500.

We managed to safely arrive at the market and were greeted by numerous vendors ready to negotiate their goods for our hard earned American dollars. Besides the overall cultural experience of the market, our goal was to locate some local señoritas to braid the gals hair in Caribbean style. We got our negotiating feet wet by haggling over the price of the hair braiding with three separate señoritas. We managed to talk the second señorita into reluctantly accepting $15 for both girls (vice $30 for 2). Feeling good about our negotiating tactics we decided to walk away to see if we could do even better further inside the market. After the third señorita reluctantly agreed to $15 we guessed that this seemed to be the rock bottom price. Susan, however, after seeing the 2nd señorita looking forlorn after losing our business and watching our every move with seeming desperation for us to return, felt the tug of empathy for the local señoritas trying to earn some currency. We walked back to the shop of the second señorita and offered the woman and her daughter $20 if they would braid the girls hair. They were initially a bit confused considering we haggled to get them down to $15 but they didn’t seem to mind ;).

As it turned out, the hair braiding fell out after only 2 days so we made a second bus trip to the market to have the hair re-done.  The señioritas were more than happy to accommodate and pretty much re-did the braids.  The newly braided hair lasted for 2 weeks after we returned home.

After the hair braiding and meandering through the market for a while longer, we haggled over a few additional items and received our fill of the experience. We hopped onto the next bus and returned mentally exhausted from shopping in this way.

If there is one thing this experience taught the gals, I hope it is that it is ok to walk away from a product (or anything else in life) if you don’t feel it is worth the cost. If there’s a second thing, as my wise mother-in-law stated, the goal of any transaction should be win-win for both parties.

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