August 17 – National Thrift Shop Day

Posted on August 17, 2017



I love to save money, of course - doesn't everybody?

But I have to admit that I'm not much of a thrift-shop shopper. I am not inclined to pick through used clothes, to see the possibilities of what an item of clothing could do for me. There is, I have to admit, a teeny bit of a squeamish reaction for me, as if "used" means "dirty."

But, then again, you have to realize that I also hate clothing shopping of ANY kind. I prefer thrift shopping for clothes to the sort of thing you see on movies - women trying on one fancy outfit after another, trying to find THE perfect dress. I mean, I really really really would hate that!

When I was getting married, I looked for the sort of dress I liked - and by "liked" I mean a peasant style, ready-made, very inexpensive. I found only one, but I tried it on and loved it. Voilà! I found my wedding dress in like 15 minutes!

So, yeah, I'm not a shopper.

Today we celebrate thrift stores, and there is a lot to celebrate. Not only do customers save money, but society and the Earth wins, too!

(1) Lots of thrift shops are run by charitable organizations. So buying from them can help children and families in need.



(2) Most of the rest of the second-hand / thrift shops are small businesses rather than chains owned by giant corporations. It's great to support local small business owners!


(3) Whatever is being sold in a thrift shop or any other second-hand store is NOT being plunked into a landfill. That whole "reuse, renew, recycle, repurpose" thing is partly based on the willingness for people to use "used" stuff!



Did you know that about 10.5 MILLION TONS of clothing is sent to landfills EVERY YEAR? 

That's...mountains of fabric!

Apparently, only about 15% of clothing is donated. We have got to get that percentage up!

About half of all donated clothing finds its way into someone's closet again, via thrift stores, and the other half is recycled - torn down into fibers that are used to make things like insulation and carpet padding and even industrial rags.(Check out this article for more on all of that.)

Celebrate the day by donating clothes, by visiting a thrift shop, and by promising yourself you will do your part to keep stuff out of landfills.



August 16 – Restoration of Independence in the Dominican Republic

Posted on August 16, 2017


During the 1800s, the Dominican Republic declared its independence three times!

First, after years of trying to do so, the Dominican Republic finally declared its independence from Spain in 1821. It called itself Spanish Haiti.

(But, you know, in Spanish.)

But then Haiti took over. In other words non-Spanish Haiti, where the people spoke French, invaded and annexed "Spanish Haiti," where the people spoke Spanish. Both of these groups were living on the same Caribbean island, Hispaniola.



But the Dominicans didn't want to live under Haitian rule. So a group of them declared their independence again, in 1844, and they forced Haiti out and fought back every time Haitian forces tried to take over.

Unfortunately, being independent isn't a picnic. Two men fought for control of the new nation, but both Buenaventura Báez and Pedro Sánchez seemed interested in getting an older, more powerful nation to kinda-sorta adopt the Dominican Republic, rather than staying fully independent. One tried to convince the French and then the United States to take over. Eventually, in 1861, General Sánchez was able to convince Spain to re-colonize (as it were) the nation.

The Dominican Republic was the only Latin American country ever to revert back to being a Spanish colony.

Of course, as you can imagine, some Dominicans did not like this move one bit. Protests shook the colony, and on this date in 1863 a patriot declared independence again - for the third time in 40 years! 


A War of Restoration broke out, and Spain got sick of yet another revolutionary war. In 1865 Spanish forces left the island - and ever since then the Dominican Republic has been independent.

The last declaration of independence is so important to the nation, August 16 is the date that the president addresses the nation - a sort of "State of the Union" speech - and it is also the date that, every four years, the new president takes power.



Check out some of the lovely landscapes to be seen in the Domincan Republic:









Also on this date:
































Independence Day in Gabon










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August 15 - Anniversary of Arequipa, Peru

Posted on August 15, 2017

Today there will be a Friendship Parade down the streets of Arequipa, in Peru.


The Friendship Parade is known for encouraging
audience members to dance along with the music!

For weeks Peruvians and tourists have been enjoying a variety of celebratory fairs - from the Ironwork Art Fair to the Sillar (volcanic stone) Art Fair to the Sweets Fair. There have been music festivals, fashion shows, and more.

Something to look for at the Sweets Fair is mazamorra morada -
purple pudding. It's made of corn and fruit and deliciousness.

But today is THE day, the big day. In addition to the huge, long parade, there is a Miss Arequipa contest. There's loads of food.There's a volcano-climbing contest.

All of these festivities remember the 1540 founding of the town by a Spaniard named Garcí Manuel de Carbajal.

Arequipa is known as the White City, because it is mostly constructed out of sillar, a kind of white volcanic stone:





Of course, white buildings can take on different colors depending on the light!



The main plaza is gorgeous, isn't it?



There are three volcanos near the city, but it is the biggest, el Misti, that contestants climb today!
View of el Misti from Arequipa (above),
and view from the top (below).



Also on this date: