Sunday afternoon we took a drive out to a small…spot called Quebrayana. Not really a town, or even a pueblo. Really it is just a few houses on the side of the road by a creek. We were looking for Bijao – a large leaved plant that the locals use to wrap up tamales before cooking them. We wanted to get a start of it going in the garden to help out the neighbors, who are always looking for it just before birthdays or special occasions. I have not personally made tamales by myself (too much corn is not good for my diabetes, and the tamales here are almost pure corn mush) but I hope to at least learn to make them for others. Tamales are ‘fiesta’ food. Special occasions warrant tamales, Arroz con pollo (a rice, chicken and vegetable dish), potato salad and chicha (a drink made of the available fruit at the time). Now, that, friends is party food!
Lynn and I got kind of turned off of tamales a couple of years ago when the neighbor, selling tamales for a school function, brought us tamales made with fish, bones and all, and also some made with pork. The pork tamale had a bone, some uncooked fat, and blood. I was sick just looking at them. However, we have learned that if we know the person cooking, we can make an informed decision about whether they are edible (the tamales, not the people). Generally we just buy them for whatever cause and let Saly, the Dalmatian decide whether they are any good. When we go to parties, it is a different story. That becomes a more delicate issue. Lynn’s normal way of dealing with that is to slide it onto my plate at the first available moment. Not fair, but what can I do without drawing more attention to us not eating them. I end up being the guinea pig, but searching for a friendly, out of the way dog to share with!
Okay, back to the trip – we came across a large Indian family standing on the side of the road about two miles out of town (dirt road, mind you, middle of nowhere) waiting for a ride to come by.
We stopped and asked where they were headed, and they told us Quebrayana, so we said hop in. As they were getting in I noticed that one of the girls was Florencia, a student of ours from the school at Caña Blanca. Most of the family climbed into the back of the truck, but Florencia and one of the boys asked if they could ride in the cab. We said of course, and they talked our ears off until we reached where they said they would get out to go to their home. We could not see a house at first, but stopped to let them out. The father thanked us for the ride and asked if some time we might come out and pick them all up to go to church with us. Unusual request, and it tickled us. The oldest boy, who had been riding in the cab, asked me if he could ask a favor. I said he could ask. He then asked if we could get him a pair of shoes. I told him we would try, asked what size did he need, and what kind of shoes he preferred. His name was Carlos, he was 13 years old, and I knew I had not seen him at the school (thanks to Kelly Martin and others, we took shoes to all the students in Caña Blanca last summer). I asked if he went to school, he said no, he worked cutting grass and weeds whenever he could. We took a picture of the younger children and mom, who said not a word the whole time. Then we headed out. After we crossed the creek and made the bend in the road we could see a house or two, so felt they were not far from home. We hope to get some black tennis shoes for Carlos today, and when we deliver them, see what sizes the other younger children need. The Caña Blanca children are not part of our scholarship program at this time, but the generous help we have received from Riverside folks will provide shoes and a bit of food for this family. A great ministry opportunity God placed in our laps!
The trip was also successful in spotting a couple of new birds to add to our bird-watching list. We have started trying to identify the thousands of birds we see normally, and are enjoying it. The only drawback is that my camara refuses to get the photos in time, so I end up with blurry pictures of wings flying away from me! (Okay, might be the photographer instead of the camara – maybe. Lynn says the camera cost too much to be at fault, so it must be me!) At any rate, we spotted a pair of Collared Aracari Toucans and a Crested Oropendola - All beautiful, colorful birds, and yes, I did take these photos, so there is hope that someday I will get some good ones! That alone would have been worth the trip without having met the family. Bonuses left and right!
The trip was also successful in finding Bijao. It is now planted in the garden and looking healthy and grateful for the water! Fred, the truck, performed magnificently with the very awful road conditions, and we had a lovely afternoon!