Jonathan and I wanted to make dinner one night for our teacher, Maribel, and her family. When we offered, she asked if we were sure we wanted to do that.
“You know my family is large, right?” she asked.
“Well, yah, there’s you, your husband and your three children.”
“Family” has a different meaning in Ecuador (and in many Latin American cultures), than the smaller, nuclear families we’re more used to in the US and Europe.
Maribel suggested that we come to her home and make the pizza there.
It was a good idea you know, since there were going to be 18 people there.
(Our apartment only has 4 plates.)
Jonathan gave a presentation on pizza a few weeks ago. Maribel took the pizza home to her family. Apparently, everyone in Maribel’s family has been asking for the recipe for the dough (la massa) ever since.
We grabbed the bus, changed to another bus, and after 1 ½ hours (it was rush hour), we made it to the nice and new bus station/shopping center near Maribel’s.
Her home is beautiful. It’s in the south of Quito. And, guess what. It’s quiet there!
We called Maribel from the bus station, and she came to meet us. But, she didn’t come alone. She came with 6 kids!
All of them were waving to us from across the street and welcomed us with hugs and kisses on the cheek.
It felt like going home. Everyone was so excited to see us! It really felt like we were Aunt Carrie and Uncle Jonathan here in Ecuador.
We brought all the fixings for pizza over to Maribel’s. We thought that we had enough room in the bowls for the dough to expand, but it expanded a bit over-the-edges.
Pizza is a wonderful thing to make with kids. They have fun putting their hands all over everyone’s food and it’s really an activity they can dig into.
These kids were not picky with ingredients at all! They all wanted everything on all the pizzas (we made 5 pizzas).
And, they all tried each ingredient too – even the new and unusual ones (the ingredients, not the children).
Then, Maribel made some tea and fried sweet plantains for everyone as a snack. While the pizzas were baking, we got to sit and sip tea and eat plantains while chatting with the family.
It was fun seeing them again, and meeting Maribel’s sister and her family who were visiting from the coast.
After devouring the first 2 pizzas, the adults wanted their turn to learn to make more pizza. It was really fun getting to teach everyone how.
And, one absolutely crazy thing – we’re pretty sure no one had ever seen a can-opener before (hand or electric). We bought canned sauce, and brought the can-opener from our apartment. Everyone was absolutely fascinated.
They’d been opening cans with a steak knife. That just blew my mind.
I mean, I’d never used an electric can opener until I was an adult… but I never tried to use a steak knife to open a can.
Anyway, after another round of pizza, Maribel’s sister challenged Jonathan to a game of “40”. 40 (“cuarenta”) is the Ecuadorian favorite card game. Maribel taught us how to play a few weeks ago, and then gave us a refresher course in class this afternoon.
This time though, we weren’t betting something silly like we do in class. We were playing for money.
This must have been the motivation for Jonathan and I. We won. And we didn’t just win one game. We won 5 sets. (You play best-two-out-of-three for a set.)
And, while I’m at it, I might as well blow our horn a little louder and say that we won 10 games, and lost 2. There were only 2 sets where we had to play to 3 games!
After all those games though, it was 2:00am. Time for us to go.
We had a bus to catch to Mindo the next morning at 9AM.
We said our goodbyes to the family, and Paco and Juan walked us to the bus station to get a taxi.
It was interesting that both of them walked us. I mean, sure they wanted to, but it was also an issue of safety. One person should not walk back alone.
We were going to take a taxi, but the first taxi wouldn’t drive us that far north (25 kilometers). The second “taxi” wasn’t a taxi, but some random dude in a random beat up car offering us a ride.
Paco and Juan both advised against it.
Then, a city bus pulled out of the station. It was going our way, so we got on. We were able to take the bus for $1 nearly all the way back to our apartment.
But, it wasn’t the bus we were used to. It dropped us off further west than we’d been before, and it was 2:30 am. So, we grabbed a taxi. Unfortunately, we over-paid that taxi driver.
Oh well, the money we won at “40” ($5) covered our transportation costs back to the apartment.
We had a really great night. And I want to thank Maribel for letting us come over. And sharing her father’s first-pizza-eating-in-his-life (!) experience with us. (He loved it.)
Thank you so much for treating us like family.
It was amazing and we had a wonderful time!