Today our Spanish teacher, Maribel, invited us to visit her family with her, in Guaytacama (the small town where she grew up and her father, Manuel, still lives).
Jonathan and I were very excited at the idea of seeing how an Ecuadorian family lives. But, we got way more than we expected.
We didn’t expect to be welcomed as and treated as part of their family. It was fabulous! In the 5 months and 2 days we’ve been traveling, it was by far my favorite day.
Maribel’s husband, Paco, was kind enough to pick us up and drive us the 2 hours to the town. And, he even bought us some delicious avocado ice cream on the way down.
Yes, you read that right. AVOCADO ice cream.
He also gave us some fun history lessons and shared some legends with us and it made the ride very short and comfortable.
When we arrived, the family (16 people in total) was down picking corn (choclo) for dinner.
So, we went and grabbed a few ears of corn for ourselves.
Then we went to pick berries. There’s one very tall tree, and all berries at the bottom had already been picked, so it was up to the top of the tree.
Maribel’s 4 year old son, Paquito, was completely fearless. He climbed nearly to the top by himself. (It was so cute to watch him come down: He wrapped his arms and legs around the branch and slid down while yelling like Tarzan.)
Maribel’s father, Manuel, also climbed to the top of the tree. He’s 83 years old.
Jonathan and I stayed on the ground. I would have climbed, but it was full of people (one tree already supporting 8 people).
Then we were off to cook lunch.
We had delicious Choclo that was picked minutes before, potatoes fresh from the garden, a cucumber salad, fresh cheese, and delicious aji.
Aji is a spicy sauce that is found on every table in Ecuador. It’s made of tomate de arbol (a fruit that is only grown in Ecuador), agua, aji (a spicy pepper), red onion (soaked in salt to remove the raw flavor), and cilantro.
The food was so good. I kept eating long past being full because it was so good. I was sitting next to Paquito. He kept adding more and more aji to his food.
I leaned over and asked if he liked aji. He got kind of embarrassed, and said that he did. I told him that I did too as I added more to my plate as well. He thought that was pretty funny.
Then, Maribel, Jonathan, and I played a new card game she taught us a few weeks ago. It’s called cabesa de la mierda… (poop head…well, “poop” is a more family-friendly word than what it actually is).
Next we went out and played soccer. The whole family played. And, it was the first soccer game I’ve ever played in my life! It was quite fun.
Unfortunately, I had to stop at half time because my contacts just couldn’t take the dust anymore. But, this meant that I got to spend the next 30 minutes holding the cutest baby (Pablo)!
As we’ve said before, our apartment doesn’t have an oven. This means that my Uncle Don’s “No Bake Cookies” have become quite a hit. I made them for Maribel in class one day, and she took them home to her family.
Everyone wanted to know how to make them, so I shared the recipe with everyone.
The hardest part was waiting for them to cool and dry!
Maribel’s father can play two flutes at one time! So, we begged him for a demonstration. I don’t think he wanted to at first, but I’m so glad that he did. It really was amazing.
Paquito also showed us him impressions of Michael Jackson. He can moonwalk quite well, and he can jump up to the tops of his toes.
But the grand finale is the best
I didn’t know that we were invited to spend the night as well. I thought we were just invited for the day. Had I known, I would have brought my contact solution so we could have stayed. (I have hard contacts and cannot sleep in them, and they require special solution as well.)
I am really disappointed that we couldn’t stay. Being there really felt like being at home for me.
Maribel’s sister, Yesenia, her husband, Juan, and their children, Angelo and Pablo (the baby), were kind enough to drive us all the way back to our apartment (which is 25 km out of the way).
We had a fun ride back. Little Angelo, however, was completely tired-out from the soccer game. He fell asleep against Jonathan’s shoulder before the car even pulled away from the curb.
(At one point, he reached over and took hold of Jonathan’s arm –while sleeping. It was so adorable!)
I am very grateful to Maribel and her family for the invitation!
We had a wonderful day full of family, fun, food, passing around one glass of beer, and spending time as part of a big family again. Thank you, all of you (Manuel, Maribel, Paco, Honey, Mateo, Pacquito, Juan, Yesenia, Angelo, Pablo, Rosa, Patricio, Sara, and Valeria) for giving me my favorite day yet!