Archive for April 2011

Large Spider – Tarantula’s cousin? ( El Salvador )   8 comments

This not-so-little friend was walking along the wall of the back patio one night, not long after I had first moved to El Salvador.  I called out to my husband, who immediately grabbed the broom.  In a dramatic moment, I saved Spidey’s life: “Run, Spider, Run!” I yelled.  He escaped just before the broom slammed the wall, and my husband cursed me.  My in-laws insisted this spider was dangerous; they said though it doesn’t have a venomous bite, the web it weaves can poison animals that walk into it, like horses and cattle.  I scoured the internet everywhere to identify ‘poisonous webs’ or ‘venomous webs’ but could not find a thing.  Old Salvadoran wives tale, I say.

Date spotted:  November 2, 2009.  Species:  unknown.  Visit the Wonderful World of Insects in El Salvador Photo Gallery.   UPDATE:  according to one of our readers, this is known locally as a “horse spider.”  It appears to be a type of tarantula.

Hairy like a Tarantula, but not quite

Look how big this spider is

This spider is as big as hand!

What in Tarnation? (strange insects in El Salvador) – Dobsonfly!   2 comments

Just one more discovery in the world of strange insects in El Salvador.  It was resting on the wall of our bedroom and apparently had died a quiet death.  Since it was so darn big, I decided to document it with my niece Carmen, taking out the tape measure to illustrate.  Nearly 3 inches long without antennae.    Date spotted:  January 13, 2010.  Species:  unknown.   Visit the Wonderful World of Insects in El Salvador Photo Gallery.

Update:  It’s a Dobsonfly.  Special thanks to Kathy Mahler for her comment informing us who this insect is.  Based on photos, he appears to be a male.  And we were living near a river at that time, natural habitat for him.

strange insects in El Salvador 1 strange insects in El Salvador 2

Multi Horned Spiders – El Salvador   3 comments

Two multi-horned spiders, red and white.   Seen in Los Planes de Renderos, El Salvador, October 9, 2010.  Looks like “Spinybacked Orbweaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis)”  per photos on

See more at the Wonderful World of Insects in El Salvador Photo Gallery.

( CLICK to enlarge )

Butterfly – Orange and Big   Leave a comment

Large orange and brown butterfly with white spot on each wing.   Los Planes de Renderos, El Salvador, September 24, 2010.

See more at the Wonderful World of Insects in El Salvador Photo Gallery.

large orange and brown butterfly with white spot on each wing

Walking Stick ( of Phasmatodea or Phasmida family )   Leave a comment

It all started on the patio in September 2010 during rainy season,  Los Planes de Renderos, El Salvador.    My friend was visiting when I noticed something on the floor.

“Gee what is that?” I said to her.  “Wow, es un gran animal!” she said (it’s a big ‘animal’).    Holey Toledo, he IS big!   Look at the size of this guy.  That paper is over 6″ wide, so I estimate this walking stick insect is about 5 inches long, not including antennae.

walking stick, about 5 inches long. walking stick insect el salvador

An internet search yielded many photos resembling this walking stick in numerous geographical locations, from smaller versions in the continental U.S. to ones 6-8″ long in Puerto Rico, and sticks in Peru and Madagascar.    They belong to a family of insects called Phasmids, known for camouflage capabilities. This is the 3rd major insect I have seen with camouflage capabilities in El Salvador, the other two are a leaf-backed grasshopper called an “Esperanza” in Spanish, and a leaf-backed Praying Mantis.   Fascinating stuff.

Holy Week carpets in El Salvador / Alfombras de Semana Santa en el Salvador   5 comments

Can you say COOL?

The carpets / alfombras of Semana Santa (Holy Week) seen in El Salvador and Latin America are a wonderful creative expression of spirituality.   The carpets are made of pigment colored salt or sawdust and are  ‘painted’ by teams of people who start working on them as early as midnight on Good Friday.   The photos speak for themselves.  Photos below were taken the morning of Good Friday in Los Planes de Renderos, San Salvador, El Salvador.  Unlike other places, where the carpets get wiped away by the religious processions of Good Friday (Viernes Santo), these are marked off with cones or tape and people walk around instead of on them, so they last through both the morning and evening processions, on display for at least 12 hours.

>> CLICK on any picture to enlarge <<

A picture of Christ – all in Salt!

The craftsman checks his work

Texture and dimension
…see the detail in Christ’s hand

Largest alfombra we saw

LEFT detail.

MIDDLE detail

Detail, RIGHT

The carpet quotes Luke 9:35   In Spanish:
Camino, Neocatecumenal….”Este es mi hijo, el [mi] elegido, escuchadle” La transfiguracion Lucas 9, 35


My favorite alfombra,
depicting Jesus and Romero

Romero is a modern day Jesus
for the Salvadoran people.

I love the detail, colors,
and cursive writing



It all starts with a drawing

And patience

Careful craftsmanship

Tinted hands

Close up look at the salt

Not all are religious pictures.

As I wrote this I realized boy did we get lucky.  A few sprinkles fell from the sky mid-day on Good Friday, but stopped, sparing the artwork so painstakingly created.  Saturday, just a day later – the sky belched out a POURING rain for two or more hours in the afternoon.

A couple links to other sites showing Good Friday carpets here:

Carpets in Antigua, by Shannon O’Donnell.

Carpets in El Salvador from 2008, by Hunnapuh.

History of Holy Week carpets – three theories.

Procession of the Way of the Cross / Procesión del Víacrucis (Vía Crucis)   Leave a comment

Nuns walk towards where procession will start, 9:30am

Here are photos of a few stations for the Way of the Cross processions on Good Friday in Los Planes de Renderos, San Salvador, El Salvador.  A morning procession took place, and in the evening, an even larger, more attended procession happened from 7:00pm – 10:00pm local time.

Click any photo to enlarge it.

This Viacrucis station was my favorite. Gorgeous colors and flowers

detail of viacrucis to the left

It was lovely how they sprinkled flowers in front of this viacrucis station.

Nice natural detail for this viacrucis with heliconia flowers and sawdust in front

more detail of viacrucis on the left

Information on the Stations of, or the Way of the Cross below (known in Spanish as the “Viacrucis” or “Estaciones de la Cruz” and also “Vía Dolorosa”)

Way of the cross – English.

Viacrucis (o Vía crucis) – Espanol

Here are videos of the processions as they took place in Los Planes de Renderos for 2010 and 2011.  Visit the 2010 one first, it’s more authentic with no music overlay, you can hear the people praying and chanting (and even Cicadas in the background!)  2011 is available also.  Both were shot by jucabuher (YouTube user name).

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