Get comfy... this is a long one!
Yesterday I had quite the adventure. After school I jumped on a bus (thankfully not a cattle car) and went for the hour long drive down the windy mountain roads (praying that the bus would not go over the edge of the cliff) to Blancas house for the night. Blanca (who is 14) has a sister Diana who is 17, a little brother Jefferson who is 4 ½ and a little sister Tatiana who is 2 ½. When we got to her house we were met by her mother, our lunch, and a kitchen full of jabbering cuys (guine pigs). Her mother laughed at me watching them scurry around the floor and told me her daughter had told her that in america we keep them as pets so I did not want to eat one. She thought this was hilarious (as all Ecuadorians do). I quickly found my favorite one, a little all white baby, and told them I named it Isabella and when they ate izzy they should think of me haha.
For lunch we had potatoes, rice, tomato and onion salsa and beans. Then they gave me a different pair of shoes so wear and sent me hiking up the mountain with the girls to feed the cows. It was at least a 45 minute hike up the mountain to where the cows graze. We met her brother Jefferson and her father there, fed the cows and went back down the mountain with their horse. The girls were very eager to see an American attempt to ride bare back and I was feeling particular thankful that I had taken riding lessons when I was younger. The through a little rug on the horses back and I jumped on. We went down the road a bit to their neighbors where we picked mandarins and then rode back. The girls did a little homework and they fed me a giant bowl of honey (which is a huge honor because its very expensive and takes a long time for the bees to make a little bit). This honey was not like the honey in america though. It has all the wax and pollen still in it. It tasted great but left a weird film in my mouth and my stomach was a bit uneasy. Their little brother, who may I remind you is 4, is one of the worst children I have ever met! I went from laughing so hard at the things he would do to wanting to put the kid on time out myself! I let him play with my camera and when we had to go and take it back he got ;mad and started yelling at his mom. His mom told him to stop crying so he got more angry, grabed his fathers huge knife, came back out, and started yelling again while giving his mother the finger. At this she just started laughing! I didn’t know what to do! Part of me wanted to laugh and part of me was so sad! He then started to beat up the animals. He would jump kick the chickens and beat the horse with a rope and tried to kick his kitten. I know animals are looked at differently in this culture but I don’t care what culture your in… you should still respect animals and the mom did nothing. It made me so upset to watch! He threw a rock at one of the chickens and it was limping around all day. If he had hit it square on im sure he would have killed it. He would swing from the rope tied to the horses neck and then tell it he was going to kill it. Hed get this crazy evil look in his eyes and try and hurt all the animals. I seriously was wondering if the kid was possessed! And they did nothing! I just tried to not worry about it but it was so hard.
After this we threw the rug back on the horse and I jumped on to go to their grandmothers house a half hour up the road. Jeffery got on the back of the horse with me and we started our little adventure. The ride there was fun and mostly up hill which was nice. Once we got there I met her grandmother and aunt, got the cheese and then started to ride back. By this time it was getting pretty dark and the ride was mostly down hill. If you have ever been on a horse you know it’s a bad idea to attempt to trot on a horse down hill. If its going faster than a walk it can trip and its really dangerous. These were steep hills too. I t was hard because Jeffery being on the back kept pushing me forward and the whole rug would move forward till I was practically on the horses neck. I kept trying to move back which was hard with Jeffery. Jeffry then decided he wanted to run so he starts kicking the horse insesently and telling it to run while im saying “whooooa” and puling back on the reighns. Im telling Jeffery its dangerous going down hill and its dark and you cant see cars around the turns and he needs to stop. He gets the look in his eye when he realizes im getting mad and he does it even more! The horse is starting to run down the hill and is tripping and im still pulling on the reighns. The horse is so confused that it sees grass on the hill and instead of running uphill it just bolts up the mountain and Jeffery is laughing histerically. I finally got the horse to stop and turned around. I told Jeffery if he kicked the horse one more time he was walking home. His sister came running and yelling after us and FINALLY yelled at Jeffery to stop, which he then did. Oh what I would have given for a saddle and a helmet!
I am not sure if any of you who read this have ever been on a horse bare back but its not comfortable and these horses are not well fed, which means there whole spine is digging into you the whole time. It was so much fun until about the last 15 minutes when that little episode happened and every step became somewhat painful. I will just say that I am quite bruised in unmentionable places haha.
After our little cheese adventure we had bread, cheese and coffee. They gave me half the thing of cheese to eat! I was trying to be polite and eat it all but I just couldn’t finish it. They make the cheese there and they don’t refrigerate it and every time I have it here it makes me a little sick. I had never eaten more than a small piece though and I knew in a few hours id be feeling it. We then walked to the little store they own where all the men hang out, drink, smoke and play cards all night. There were ment from 15-60 there! Every night Diana goes and makes hardboiled eggs to serve the men. She said the women are expected to stay home and cook. I asked if that’s what she would do when she was older and she said she desperately wants to go to college to be a teacher and hopes her family can afford it. She said she wants more than to have a baby and get married at 18, live with an alcoholic husband and cook eggs all her life. All she would do is put eggs in some boiling water, take them out and serve them while her dad watched. I asked why he didn’t just make the eggs and she laughed. She said it would make him “look bad” to his friends.
One of the eggs broke in the water and the white part came out and was cooking outside the egg so it looked really funny when we took it out. All the younger guys were trying to show off their tattoos and were making comments to me and tryng to be cool and get my attention. I told her that It would be funny if I tried to bring them the egg and tell them I had a special egg for them and it was a present haha. Even though I didn’t do it she thought it was hilarious and told her mom, her dad, her sister and all her friends on the buss this morning about it lol. On the walk home we had a good talk and I just encouraged her to wait until she was done with school and married to have kids and that she should wait for a guy who will treat her well to be with. No one here encourages these girls that there is so much more to life and it makes me so sad.
Her mother served us some soup with potatoes and then we all went to bed at around 9:30. They have 4 beds in the two room hut. Both girls had their own bed and each of the little kids slept with one of their parents in a bed. Blanca slept with her mom and brother so I could sleep in her bed. I layed there, being bitten by bedbugs and fleas for about 2 1/2 hours before I fell asleep on the “bed”. It was a real bed but it was missing a mattress so I slept on a board. They had so many covers on it that I honestly felt like I was buried under library books. I slept for a few hours and then woke up with a horrible stomach ache from the cheese. I laid there till 5 when they woke up, took my egg with me since I couldn’t make myself eat it (I thought I would throw up) and jumped on the buss for the hour long ride back. We got in at 7 and I went straight home and back to bed for 5 hours! I woke up feeling much better although my neck, stomach and well whole body are covered with little red bite marks. Rosie, my mom was so worried about me and doesn’t want me going to the mountains anymore because of the bedbugs haha. I told her it was ok and I didn’t mind that much. It was definitely and adventure but it was so fun for me to see how they live. Im exhausted, itchy and sore today but it was so worth it! I loved it! I would definitely do it again and although it was a bit crazy it was an awesome experience!