Written by Hannah Fixel:
As I write this I’m currently drenched in sugar cane juice and watching my host family dance to the radio while the juice boils down into sugar. This is our second full, 9-hour day at the farm preparing raw panela, or sugar from sugar cane. The days have been exhausting, but incredible and a true Ecuadorian experience. In fact, Elena and I soaked up as much Ecuadorian culture this past week as we possibly could. When we weren’t at the school teaching, we were working at our family farms, swimming at the sequia (swimming hole) with our students, cooking, eating hand-picked fruits, or having barefoot races (with the kids) through the beautiful rolling hills covered in soft dirt. This week was also filled with the birth of Elena’s new host brother Giovanni Andres! Elena even traveled with her host mom to the hospital to hold him before he was brought home.
While my family patiently awaits the birth of my host niece, we decided to have a genuine Ecuadorian cookout with the whole family. Fortunately I wasn’t present for the killing of one of our pigs, which we roasted. Being vegetarian, I didn’t actually eat it either. Naturally though, I was given about three times as many fried maduro plantains as everyone else as a substitute for the chancho asado (grilled pig).
All in all, we have found ourselves constantly amazed by how resourceful Ecuadorians are with their land and time. Every moment of the day is devoted to utilizing as much of the resources that the land provides or enjoying being with family. Elena and I feel like we have fit ourselves into the culture here easily and we are cherishing our last 10 days in the pure simplicity of life here in Catazacon.
Note from Jenny, the group’s leader:
Hannah’s baby niece was born early in the morning on Monday, 11/21/11. She still does not have a name, but word has it that the family is considering naming the baby Hannah! What an honor that would be! Hannah missed school on Monday to travel with her host family to Quevedo (a bigger city about an hour away) to welcome their new family member into the world. Just as Elena and I were leaving Catazacon on Monday afternoon to head to Maria Aurora to surprise Rani for her 18th birthday, Hannah returned from Quevedo and was able to join us. Attached are a few pictures we took in Maria Aurora on Monday at Rani’s birthday celebration.
We hope to have a blog post for Maria Aurora after Thursday when we are all together in San Luis de Pambil for our Thanksgiving celebration. Stay tuned for more pictures and updates. Happy Thanksgiving!