Thursday, December 27, 2012


Ogenia gutting chickens
     It's 10 o’clock on Chrismas eve and we are anxiously waiting for midnight. Everyone can’t wait to dig in to the food we’ve been preparing all day.  But Christmas preparations started long before today. Almost a month ago Avo Alice purchased the Balcaho. 3 days ago she began working on the desserts, and 2 days ago they slaughtered the pig in the back yard. Avo Alice goes all out when it comes to cooking. Her ‘go big or go home’ mentality could be attributed to the fact that she was the Presidents chef. And even all this is short of the usual. From my understanding, things died down a bit when her husband passed away 5 years ago.
            The Christmas tradition here is very different from back in the states. At 9pm everyone heads to church for a service. After mass they head home and at midnight every one enjoys their Christmas feast.
             On Christmas day, the tradition for my family is to go to my uncle’s house. Its also his birthday, so we had lunch at his house and spent the afternoon and evening hanging out and talking until it was time to pull out the birthday cake. I had balchalau again, but this time it was made a little differently with milk or some kind of daily product. The pig that was slaughter a couple days ago was in attendance on the table as well.
Avo Alice catching the pigs blood to make blood sausage
            This will have been the 2nd pig I’ve seen slaughtered in a month. But this one was way more intense. Pigs are big! And so a pigs life is a big life to take. At Islas house 7 chickens were slaughtered for their Christmas meal. Killing them was done so casually, I was the only one cringing when it came down to the final moments before the kill.
            A big part of Christmas here your look and attire. While people’s home’s often reflect the poverty in the country, the wardrobe of the people inside the home does not, and that is especially true on Christmas. The day before Christmas a bunch of the neighbors were doing each others hair in preparation for the holiday’s. I jumped in the mix and helped my neighbor Isla braid another neighbors hair in singles. A bunch of the other neighbors and people who hang out on our street came by to watch, in fascination, the American girl braid hair. I had mom’s and aunt’s coming by and checking my braids to see if I was really doing it right.  Fortunately I got the nod of approval, so hopefully that will at least change some of their opinion that American’s can’t do anything. No one has said that explicitly, but it’s just the sense I get from folks when they ask me questions about America.  
            Anyways, with everyone’s hair, make up (for women), and clothing looking impeccable, Christmas came and went successfully and happily.

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