Last week when my friend, Brenda, invited me to have bread for Miercoles Santos at her mother’s house outside of town. I figured, bread and coffee—cool. But what we had was so much more.
[Photo: Brenda’s daughter and puppy.] I arrived at Brenda’s house bright and early. From there we had to take a tuk tuk and a pickup truck to get to her mom’s house. When we arrived there, we were greeted by her grandfather and uncle while we waited for her mother to arrive. [Photo below: Brenda and her grandfather. Yes, she is stunning and he looks like a movie star.]
In no time, Brenda’s mom, Chave, arrived with supplies for us carry to her adobe home ten minutes away by foot. I loved Chave’s rustic adobe house with it’s twigs sticking out from between mud bricks. I asked if she thought it would keep her safe from intruders. “Yes,” she answered, “But not from earthquakes.” Coincidentally, there was a 4.5 earthquake in Guatemala today.
Chave has not yet officially moved into her house. Though It has a refrigerator, stove and table, Chave had to carry in the kitchen supplies and food for the day. As soon as everything was unloaded, she proceeded to cook us breakfast. She used fresh eggs from her chickens and fresh cream and cheese from her cows. She made us the best eggs, beans, corn tortillas with steaming cups of coffee. It might have been the best meal I’ve ever had; I was overwhelmed by how delicious everything was.
Once we’d eaten, Chave proceeded to prepare a lunch for us of chicken, rice, tortillas, and drinks. But because it was a special day, Chave was going to kill a beautiful orange-feathered chicken that she’d raised for eight months. Preparing the chicken was no small feat but like many rural Guatemalans, she managed every step of the process quickly and efficiently. [Photo below: Brenda and Chave trying to catch the chicken.]
Once the chicken was killed, de-feathered, cleaned and cooked, we sat down for lunch. We were still full from breakfast and now I regret that I couldn’t eat more because it was so good.
Suddenly it was time to make the special bread for the day. Chave, Brenda and Chave’s daughter-in-law knew exactly how to work together and they insisted that I relax. I took photos which Chave encouraged (thank you, Chave!), wrote, and played with the kids and puppy.
When the batter was prepared it was poured into different sizes of tins and Chave placed them into her outdoor oven.
She’d made enough for everyone to carry loaves home. When they were ready, she made more cafe con leche for us to drink with the pan (bread). Oh, that was good!
Armed with loaves of bread, we made our way back to Brenda’s grandfather’s house and Chave invited me to see her eight cows. A few relatives were relaxing and having a conversation near the cow stalls. I sat with them while Chave proceeded to work, mixing food for the cows and feeding them. She works so hard!
By 4pm, it was time to go and I needed to catch the bus on the road since Brenda was going to ride her motorcycle home. At the appointed time, the large bus came careening around a curve. Two of us ran into the road to flag it down. I sat down in the bus feeling so grateful for the experience of having been with such wonderful people and enjoying delicious food.
♥♥♥ early evening ♥♥♥
At 5:30pm I walked to my town’s central plaza to see roving bands of boys carrying effigies of Judas Iscariot. The various groups of males run wildly down streets with noisemakers stopping at small stores houses to ask for pan (bread) for Judas. Sometimes they are given a little bread or cupcakes. The effigies look more like devils which is the intended effect because on Sunday, the effigies will be burned in the town plaza in front of the cathedral. The roots of this cultural/religious tradition are Catholic.
Since I was in the plaza, I entered the church in time to attend 6:00 mass. Ordinarily, I do not attend mass but today I felt so utterly grateful for my friends and their hospitality that I had to give thanks. And importantly, the history of Christ’s crucifixion continues to lay heavily in my heart. It is an annual mourning and so sharing that collective sadness (which would turn into joy in a few days) felt necessary.
Tomorrow night, the streets will be decorated in preparation for the Good Friday procession the next morning. Join me in my next blog post to see the photos. Peace be with you.