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

Thursday, 7/7/2016 - Exploring Morochos

I reported to the dining room table for work. Rosa prepared breakfast, and the family gathered. Vanesa helped to serve the food: potato and egg pancakes with onion, bologna, tea, coffee, strawberry yogurt, bread, blackberry jam, and cantaloupe juice.

Everyone dispersed after they had cleaned up from breakfast, and I resumed work at my laptop. Daily chores were performed, with play interspersed for the kids, and I could hear lots of giggling.

Abuelita was outside drying corn kernels in the strong equatorial sun. This is an age-old process for preserving corn, and something common between the Kichwa and Mayan cultures. Aracely and Vanesa's family owns corn fields in Panajachel and San Gabriel in the Guatemalan highlands. One surprising difference, however, is the lack of corn tortillas in Ecuador. In Guatemala, tortillerias are ubiquitous, and you can buy fresh hot tortillas at breakfast, lunch, and dinner time. Aracely and Vanesa are used to corn tortillas to augment lunch and dinner every single day. Corn tortillas are not a thing in Ecuador, so much so that we had to explain to the family what they even were.

Aracely came in to the kitchen with a bewildered look on her face and told me, "Trust me, you do NOT want to go out there!" Of course, this piqued my curiosity, and I immediately went outside.

Sisa, Yupanqui, and Shina Tayanta were all in their undies, communally bathing in a large plastic bucket. The sun was warm, but the combination of wind and cold water gave them goosebumps. The three of them were adorable, leading me to say "rub a dub dub, three kids in a tub." Aracely, being slightly older, is at the stage where the thought of communal bathing with siblings is unthinkable.

Vanesa helped Rosa to cook lunch. The two of them enjoyed chatting together as they prepared and cooked quinoa soup, beef stew, tomato and onion salad in lemon juice, potatoes, lettuce, rice, and cantaloupe juice.

Aracely was playing with the kids when Yupanqui got a splinter. Taking on honorary big sister role (she does have two younger brothers at home!), she comforted him and tried to remove it with tweezers.

The girls called home and we spoke to the family in Guatemala, proudly reporting back about what good travelers the girls have turned out to be! absorbing this new culture through conversation, food, chores, and videos. This is their first real time away from home, and they have handled it expertly.

When it became too hot outside, the kids retreated inside to watch "Pastorcito" again on the computer.

When I was done with work for the day, Craig, Yupanqui, the girls, and I decided to take a walk. It is always so peaceful walking through the countryside here. The landscape in the late afternoon light resembled a watercolor painting.

We walked up to the store to buy ice cream, and then returned to the playground we had visited a few days before. Last time, Shina had not been with us as she had been under the weather. It was fun to have all of the kids together at the park today. They all had a lot of fun, running around and playing on the brightly colored plastic jungle gym and slides. They hid in a blue plastic tunnel and we noticed the names of some of their freinds writtem in black ink on the jungle gym. I pushed Shina on the looped ropes that constitute swings. I got my yoga on, doing some warrior poses atop a pair of tree stumps.

We walked back home, and when we arrived, Vanesa helped Rosa to dry the dishes and cook dinner. At 6 o'clock, every night, the Ecuadorian national anthem is played on the radio in both Spanish and Kichwa. Yupanqui knows the whole song in both languages. He turned up the volume and sang along, even vocalizing the percussion at the end: "Dun-dun-dun dun!"

We went upstairs with the kids to view the beautiful sunset. The second and third floor construction was coming along, but there was still finish work to be done. Right now the upstairs was being used as storage for musical equipment and dried corn. The window gave us a great view of the white cottony clouds turning fiery orange and pink against the blue sky.

We went back downstairs. Aracely and Sisa played together on Aracely's tablet. Aida worked on some embroidery.

For dinner, we had cabbage soup, chicken, beets, beans, and rice, with orange juice to drink.

After dinner, Craig and I helped Sisa to practice English.
Abuelita drying corn in the sun

Abuelita drying corn in the sun

Achi Taita with godchildren Sisa, Aracely, Craig, Yupanqui, and Shina Tayanta Achi Mama with Yupanqui, Aracely, Shina Tayanta, Vanesa, and Sisa

Godparents and Godchildren

Going for a late afternoon walk

Going for a late afternoon walk

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