Ate Easter Dinner with My Hands...Don't Tell Mom

Happy Easter! I hope that everyone had a fabulous day with their families...I am sad that I did not get to partake in my families festivities but I did have a great day! and a great Easter holiday for that matter.

Let me start with telling you all that Easter here is celebrated all week, it is called Semana Santa. Starting with the special soup that is only made this week...it includes 15 grains and fruits and vegetables and fish and about everything that you can imagine. It is good, but it is a meal all in itself. That is always served on Wednesday but most people eat it most days of this week. Thursday and Friday of this week are the big days. First on Thursday night there are 3 processions that take place, starting at the church and walking down the main streets of the town and back to the church. The people walk while holding candles and singing, people take turns carrying a cross. The cross weighs about 150 pounds, women, children, and men take part in carrying this burden down the streets. This is an amazing sight and sound...people crying and praising. No one that i asked knows the significance but they do this three times on Thursday night; at 9, midnight, and 3am. Liz and I walked in part of the procession at 9 with our ´mom´ from here and then later at 12 with our ´sister´Carmen Amelia. It was an amazing experience.

Friday during the day we went to another town called Urcuqui. They had a parade during the day, where they carry the saints and other church paraphernalia down the streets and sing. The togetherness of this culture is truly something that we in the US lack and the longer that i am here the more that i notice the differences. After the parade there was a carnival set up, so we decided that we should partake in the festivities! First up was the ferris wheel...a lawnmower motor connected to a spinning metal rod which was then connected to the ferris wheel. He had to pull start this lawnmower motor every time that he stopped the ride...it was rusty and rickety and every revolution seemed as if we were going to fly off. After Liz was green we decided to stop for some fonesca...after our tummies were full we played a game of ´shoot the crooked gun at the candy stuck to a board´ which of course was much harder than it looked. Finally we road a giant worm down the streets of Urcuqui with Aventura blaring and the driver jerking from one side of the road to the other. All of these adventures were made possible by our new friend Ricardo...

Friday night was the night of the parade, which consisted again of the church paraphernalia in the street and people dressed up as Bible characters. There were lots of people in the street to watch...including us. Saturday we got up early and headed to Otavalo for the day. Otavalo is the largest market in South America, possibly the world so Lonely Planet says. We bought a rug for a new apartment! and had a good time looking at all the handiwork. We bussed back to Ibarra and Ricardo met us at the bus terminal and took us to his farm.

Ricardo, Im not sure if I have told you about him before...he is from here but has lived in Virginia for the last 20 years of his life. His family owns a farm not too far from here. It is a beautiful place...with horses and cuy (guinea pigs) and dogs and cats and rabbits and lots of plants. It is peaceful and relaxing. This is where we spent Easter Sunday. We slept in, had muesli with fresh fruit and yogurt for breakfast then road horses in the beautiful sunny weather. While we were out having our fun Mariela was slaving away making cuy for us! Cuy is guinea pig and a delicacy here. Ricardo raises and sells them but he cooked up a few for us! They were yummy...heads toenails and all! Yes mom I did eat this rat and on top of eating the rat I ate it with my fingers! Easter dinner with my fingers...a tragedy if my mother would have been sitting next to me!

This week the Vice President visited us here in Pimampiro, he is handicapped and is making a lot of headway into making this country more friendly to those that are disabled. The mayor of Pimampiro asked us to meet him, and continues to ask to for our help with the center for the disabled. They need a nurse and a doctor or a physical therapist. The center is here and ready and there are a lot of disabled people and the mayor and vice president are trying their best to get the resources here that are needed. This could be an amazing program.

Tomorrow we will visit the daycare in Paragachi. There are 30-40 kids there every day with 4 women that work there from 6am until 8pm most nights. They get very little funding from the government and these kids are the poorest of the poor. These women feed the kids three meals a day but do not have the resources for toys or other teaching supplies. We will visit tomorrow and take pictures and fill you in on the rest of the information. But, the new house is in Paragachi which means that these are the kids that we are hoping to be able to give more resources. There is a lot to do in this small town...but great benefits that will be reaped eventually.

So much to do here...I am ready to get this show on the road! But, we will go to Lima this week and work with Solidarity in Action for 2 weeks and then return here to get things going! We are more than ready...and cant wait to see where this adventure takes us!

Check out Liz´s blog!! We make a pretty good team, so maybe together we can fill you in on everything that is happening here! http://lizallison2887.blogspot.com/2011/04/easter-cuy.html

This is our new house!! Definitely needs some work but has all that land and great potential! Our orphanage dream is coming true!!