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La Esperanza, Part Three: I Become Family

On Sunday morning, the day began as usual with coffee and mosh, and a lovely hike in the mountains nearby with mi amor, Simon, in tow, and numerous little girls, who did the Hokey Pokey the entire way up.

On my return, Anna invited me to her house(which I had not been in yet) and we sat at the kitchen table looking at photographs of her children and her family. Her husband has been in the US for less than a year, and had to borrow a great deal of money to get there-but he doesn´t like it in the USA an dmisses his family very much. It is very hard for her, and she is very lonely. She has one tiny little girl who lives with her, and one 11 year old son who lives in Xela with his grandmother, because Anna´s house is very tiny.

Anna is a very modern woman, very educated by standards here, and is very intellectual. She asked to borrow by books I had brought, which were written in both Spanish and English. We talked alot about the difficulties here for women, and what was amazing isthat I understood almost everything she said!

At this point, Mina came in with her brother, both wearing sparkly clean clothes, and requesting me to photograph them at once!(When Mina do.) We all wandered down the hill to her house, and I had to attempt numerous photgraphs, as her brother wouldn´t smile. Finally, the children were all yelling, ¨Felice! Felice!¨and he understood and beamed…and the photo was perfect.

Meanwhile, tons of family had arrived, and all the women began preparing the dinner for Sunday, which was an enormous affair. Luckily, we had some pasta from the day before, so we had enough food. The women all cooked at this enormous barbeque outside under a tin overhang. They were all wearing high heels, jeans, dressed very nice, standing at this barbeque in the mud…when it began to hail. Alot. It hailed for like 45 minutes! They kept attempting to cook the entire time!

I have no idea where the guys were…but the kids were all playing Pick Up Sticks, and I was attempting to translate the Hokey Pokey into Spanish (not easy!). The dogs kept trying to steal the chicken off the barbeque….Mina was whipping out tamales like a master….the neighbor hood kids kept showing up and giving me kisses and hugs, and disapearing.

At this point, Alma came out with Mina to make an announcement. Apparently Mina liked me very much, and would like to make me a permanent fixture in her family! I explained I was traveling, and only here for a few months…Mina then offered her house to me EVERY WEEKEND!
Also, it was neccessary that I be there for Christmas, and also for her birthday(In February!)!!!I told her that´s probably not possible…I have more places to see!
We all talked for some time, and I told them I would LOVE to be there every weekend..but that I did not want to be an expense for them. We talked terms, and came up with an insanely reasonable price..with my stipulation that I could not make a feast every weekend, of course! The Quetzales I give them will pay for coffee, oil, and powered milk for the kids. Also Mina says I have to make Spagetti for her every week!

At this point, dinner was ready, and I sat down with the entire family for Guatemalan food con Pasta! Everyone loved the pasta, and ate til there was none left.

After dinner, it was time to walk to the Catholic church, in another town. It was quite cold and wet/muddy, and it was difficult on the roads because there is much new construction in the area..people just dump their materials in the road until later.

When we finally got to the church, it was very large, very crowded….and all eyes were on me. It was pretty hilarious, and Anna, Alma and I had difficulty not breaking out into gales of laughter as some people stared at me during the entire service and didn´t pay any attention to the priest.

The church was newly built, and was really a very beautiful building..absolutely huge, but very simple. Pretty devoid of decoration except a big handpainted cross and some murals that seemed to be wallpaper-like way up top near the ceiling. It was lit with florescent lights, which kind of detracted from the beauty of the place.

The mass was exactly the same as in the USA. Other than that, everything else was different.
EVERYTHING! For example, the priest wore jeans! (As did most of the people in attendence, unless in indigenous garb). THere were so many differences….Kids talked and ran around the whole time….there were no saints in the church on the walls or in decor…there was no wine, only bread…only like 15 people took communion in the whole group of several hundred, there was no holy water…really interesting experience. Very different than the Cathedral in Xela.

It is traditioanl here after church to buy food, snacks..last week my in Xela and I went for icecream and fried pork skins…this week,as we walked home, we bought tons of little goodies, for it seemed every house we had passed on the way in and turned into a cozy tienda on the way back home. We bought deep fried plantains, little tortillas with tomato sauce, sweets, tomales…. and arrived home very tired, having walked all the way back with all the children in tow.

The next morning, we got a ride to Xela, and on the way, all agreed we all couldn´t be happier with the new arrangement of me being there on the weekends. I love it there.



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