1 November 2011
Chupacabra... of sorts.
Initial Impressions: Hmmm.... so how do I take a bath again? This is nothing like a shower....
Today was very adventure filled. I am back in my hotel by 10:30 and I am exhausted!! First we got up and had breakfast, which was fresh made corn tortillas with salt and a bowl of scrambled eggs, black beans and some kind of green chile sauce. After that we headed to the town I forgot the name of... yet again... I'll try to get it tomorrow. We got there and picked up our 7 goat heads and one liver. After that we headed back into town and found/dropped in on/went to a school performance. It was a small private school and they were fantastic! They had different dances of the region as well as foods and costumes. They actually gave us seats on the stage and (as I didn't know it at the time) introduced us to the whole school. I'm so impressed/in love with how welcoming and friendly everyone is. I have several videos of it... and one where I think I might be even introduced. Again, the video loading system on this site is terrible so I will try to put them up, but it may take a while (few days). After that we had a break and went to this place called "Jardin Botanico". I LOVED it. I have several photos of this place - it was mostly about regional cactus and plants. While there we found out about a type of plant that is just used for 'decoration' here but is sent to Washington and it is what gives the apples the "Washington Shine". We also found a tree that is only green due to the photosynthesis process (cooool) and got to smell the sap of a tree (I think it was called Copan or something... I'll ask again tomorrow if we remember). This sap is EXACTLY what my grandpa uses to make Termentina (I'm not sure if I spelled that right). It was fantastic and made me a little bit home sick. I forget how much I completely love that smell. The next plant/tree we came to was one that the sap was bright bright green that came from when you crushed the 'flowers'. We took that and rubbed it on our gums - which then proceeded to make them quite numb/swollen feeling. It had a strange taste to it. The next plant we got to eat/taste/smell was a small cactus that had tiny pink "chile" looking things. They were FANTASTIC! And very very sweet. *nom nom nom*. After that one we saw an oregano plant, and even some kind of bitter leafed plant. We also saw one that is used to make alcohol on part of it, and if you take a section from the middle of the leave (this was a cactus) and boil it for a little bit then strain it you can use it to help treat bronchitis and pneumonia! I learned so much, and I loved that it was in Spanish and I did well understanding it. I even spoke with the tour guide, in Spanish, about where I'm from. :D Oh I also got a flower from the tour guide, he gave myself, Mireille, and her mother one. :) The best part of the entire tour, other than the view, was how educational it was. I am totally nerding out on the different uses of the cactus and plants, and how FANTASTIC it was. It reminded me of the job I had where I got to work in the mountains for days and measure/log data on the pinon trees in comparison to the drought and bark beetles. It was one of the best jobs I've had and this only proved how much I love it. After that everyone was quite dehydrated and tired so we headed back to the hotel for our second break.
After this nap we got up and went to dinner. We headed to a local restaurant where we ate *eeeee, like the chupacabra, but instead of blood we are eating the actually goat!!!* goat meat. I was very hesitant, especially since the smells of the goat heads and the liver had been making my stomach upset all day. I popped 3 tums (lol) and ate it the goat meat anyway. It came in a large bowl, much like a soup with many spices and some green beans. The flavor was quite strong, and unlike anything I'd eaten before but it was good. (Holy crap, Rachael ate goat meat). Everyone else also ate the bone marrow, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. In fact it was very rich in flavor and the meat was dark. Mireille's stepdad wanted us to experience and see the REAL Day of the Dead, instead of the touristy thing. He hopes we are able to build an appreciation and respect for the cultural differences and get to experience it. I must say that I LOVE her family and I very much enjoyed this. While eating the goat stew thing we also had tequila... combined with mineral water and limes it was good. After dinner we got a second type of alcohol, it tasted much like black licorice and when you add water to it it turned from clear to a milky white. It was very sweet, but I didn't much care for it. Although after the tequila and the second type of alcohol I was feeling fantastic and floaty.
From dinner we headed to a local Chocolate shop. They make their own Hot Chocolate mix (which I've got photos of) and we had hot chocolate. It was very good, especially since it was no where near as sweet as what we get in the processed packets at home. From there we headed out the town that starts with a C again. God I can't believe I can't remember it for the life of me... *grrr*. We walked through the cemetery so that Rafael (Mireille's stepdad) could place flowers on the gravesites of his family. One of the biggest, and best differences I've noticed so far today while at the cemetery is how different the atmosphere is from the US. The cemeteries in the US are cold places, where you only go during times of sorrow. I do think that there are people who go to remember their family who has passed but it is nothing like here. The cemetery is welcoming, and inviting. It even has a comforting feeling (And no, this isn't the booze talking). The cemeteries are being swept by family, they have candles, flowers, music, laughing, photos, and just about everything you can think of. I loved it. Unfortunately, it was so dark that we couldn't find Rafael's families site so we will return early tomorrow. After the cemetery we were leaving the town when Rafael spotted a home that had a very beautiful Day of the Dead alter in their home. He stopped and asked if we could please take photos, they agreed. Again I want to point out how different this is from the US... if some random person showed up with three very clearly foreign people in tow and asked if they could take photos of an alter that we had set up in the middle of our home to remember a passed on loved one any person in the US would freak out and say "HELL NO"... not only did these people say "yes" but a second home did the same thing AND they shared with us stories of their family, the history and asked about us. They were so kind... it kinda makes you... well me at least, and hopefully YOU, stop and think... the US is supposed to be this great country with all these amazing thing... we've got advancement in technology, medicine, etc.. we have so much to offer, experience, and DO... we are at the 'top of the food' chain so to speak But What have we lost??? I really can't bring that home enough. I've never felt so accepted and welcomed as I do in this country ANY where in my life in the States (not counting with my own family). For example, the school we just happened to drive by, stop and get down. They totally dragged us on stage, shared their food and culture with us, introduced us as welcome guests, let us photo them like crazy AND even asked to take photos with us... *lol*. The families who let us photograph their homes and the alters... Mireille's family who has brought me out (just some random girl from her class from the States) to her stepdads hometown and is sharing EVERYTHING that is traditional and important to him and his way of life. He is showing it all to me and trying to make sure I learn, understand, and most importantly ENJOY it. Where do we get that in the States? I often times lately have been trying to express in my own thoughts what exactly it is that we have lost. We do not have the sense of community, of compassion... maybe it is just neighborly love that I've seen here. Granted I know it isn't like that everywhere, but if you look at the amount of good that I've experienced in a city with 21.2 MILLION people that's freaking impressive.
Well enough ranting at you guys, I just wanted to share how much I'm enjoying this and I wish that all of the people in the States could experience mandatory foreign travel. I'll post up my photos/videos now.
These are of when we got the goat heads:
These photos (below) are of the school.
Actually, these photos are taking a very long time to load so I will update more of these tomorrow. Sorry to leave you guys hanging but I've got to get up super early tomorrow again. ^.^
Next are the photos of from the tour of the Jardin:
|THESE WERE AMAZING! *nom nom nom*|
|Paper Tree, the bark peels off like a very fine paper.|
|Elephant Tree, I think it was over 1000 years old (if I remember right)|