Guatemala and Ecuador 6/30/16 - 7/20/16

Tuesday 7/5/2016 - The Families Get Acquainted

Since we arrived so late last night, today would be the first real glimpse that Aracely and Vanesa would have of the property. We gave them a little tour. We introduced them to Max, the family's elderly and beloved dog. We walked them out behind the guest house, through the out-of-season, dead corn stalks, past bright yellow wildflowers, to the steep drop off that leads to a river valley. We pointed out the eucalyptus trees lining the steep slopes. The sun was shining and the bright blue sky was punctuated with puffy white clouds. The summit of Volcan Cotacachi, which can be seen from the driveway in clear weather, was hiding amidst the clouds.

Rosa's black pig Juanita was tied to a stake in the cornfield behind the guest house. She is not particularly friendly to outsiders, unlike her piglet, who is now owned by Antonio's mother. Abuelita's piglet is my buddy, though he is hardly a piglet any longer. He has grown a lot in the two months since our last visit. With his reddish wiry hair and black spots, he is friendly and will eagerly fall over to expose his belly for rubbing.

We then took the girls into the main house. We showed them into the kitchen/dining room. We said good morning to the family. It is summer vacation for all of the kids, so nobody had school today. For breakfast we had scrambled eggs with onions and tomatoes, coffee, tea, naranjilla juice, and bread with blackberry jelly.

I worked remotely today. I couldn't get a good enough wi-fi signal from our casita, so I had to situate myself at the kitchen table with my laptop, good and close to the router.

The kids spent the day getting to know one another. Sharing Spanish as a common language made them able to communicate with one another better than with us! The kids call Aracely "Celly", which we thought was very cute. I don't think Aracely really appreciated it, but she handled it graciously.

The family showed Aracely and Vanesa the various gardens and fruit trees on the property that they use for food and medicinal purposes. Aracely helped Sisa to pick some lemons.

Aracely and Vanesa gave gifts to the family. Craig and I took some time to unpack and organize things in our casita.

Shina Tayanta wasn't feeling well. She had a fever and slept through lunch. For lunch, the rest of us had broccoli soup with popcorn. The girls had never eaten popcorn in soup before; it is a common practice in Ecuador. We learned that Ecuador and Guatemala have different words for Ecuador it is "canguil," and in Guatemala, it is "poporopo" (which is more fun to say in an onamatapoetic sort of way!) We also had melloco (a small tuber which is popular in this region of the Andes) in an onion cream sauce, chicken, rice, and cabbage. We had fresh lemon and oat juice to drink.

After lunch we played with the children. We could tell that Yupanqui was a bit disappointed that there wasn't another boy in the group, but we told him that we would bring Eddy for a visit in the future.

We were all tired after a long travel day yesterday (and a short night's sleep), and altitude can also have an impact. Aracely decided to take a nap.

The truck delivering cooking gas arrived today. It was a welcome sight - the last time we were here there was a shortage and the truck didn't come for 2 weeks! Vanesa played with Sisa and Yupanqui while Aracely napped. Vanesa and Sisa dressed one another up in scarves. Vanesa looked like a 60's hippie, a look that worked surprisingly well for her.

We introduced Vanesa to Abuelita (Antonio's mother and the kids' great-grandmother). Antonio sat outside with us and played his saxophone.

Aracely woke up feeling happy and refreshed, and we decided to go for a walk once I had finished with work for the day. We walked up to the elementary school, passing corn fields, pigs, cows, and burros along the way. There were gorgeous views of the surrounding volcanoes and mountains.

We went to the one small store in the village and bought some ice creams and snacks. Then we walked up to the community center and preschool (where Shina Tayanta goes to school). There was a small playground here. The kids played on the slide, jungle gym, and some "swings" which were basically ropes without seats. The kids really got along well, and they ran around chasing one another and having fun.

We walked back home. Shina Tayanta ran out to greet us, apparenty feeling better. But she soon fell asleep again in my arms at the kitchen table. I brought her to her bed and tucked her in.

Aida came home from work and the kids gave the remaining presents that they had brought for the family. Aida gave Aracely, Vanesa, and me beautiful scarves which were made by her employer.

Aracely helped Sisa to water the plants, and Vanesa talked to Antonio about tourism in Guatemala and Ecuador. She was asking a lot of thoughtful questions of him, and she offered up the similarities and differences with tourism back in Guatemala.

Then it was time for dinner. We had soup, steak, lentils, rice, broccoli, and carrots, with fresh guayaba juice to drink. We had a lot of laughs. The kids taught one another how to count to 10 in their indigenous languages (Kichwa and Kaqchiqel). They are really bonding. Tayanta emerged from her room halfway through dinner. She was still very tired, but she seems to be improving. The entire family was together: 10 of us in total.

We are so proud of Aracely and Vanesa. They are interacting with the family, making new friends, and participating in a cultural exchange with another indigenous culture.

We feel so blessed to have these two families in our lives, and it is amazing to see them getting to know one another!

We all retired to our rooms at 9 o'clock, and Craig and I went to bed at 10.
Vanesa and Aracely in front of the guest house

Vanesa and Aracely in front of the guest house

Aracely meets Abuelita's friendly piglet

Aracely meets Abuelita's friendly piglet

Vanesa, Yupanqui, Aida, Aracely, and Sisa

Vanesa, Yupanqui, Aida, Aracely, and Sisa

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