12 noviembre 2006

Bread Babies and a Black Mama

Sorry about the lapse in blog entries, but I've been pretty busy the past couple of weeks...

I finally got outside of Quito to see a couple of other towns. There were some vacation days at the beginning of November so most people didn't have work or school. During this extra long weekend many people go to the coast or to other towns for a holiday. I decided to take these days as vacation also so I could do some traveling. First, I went to a town that is about an hour and a half north of Quito, called Otavalo. This town is famous for its huge markets that happen every day, the most famous and largest of all being on Saturday. There is everything at this market: sunglasses, hammocks, jewelry, paintings, pants, shoes and bread babies (I'll explain later). I was so overwhelemed I couldn't buy anything (actually I decided to wait until my parents are here to "help me decide" what to get). Nearby the town is another town called Peguche that is famous for its waterfalls. I spent a good portion of the day hiking around the waterfalls and enjoying nature. It was a great trip, although short.

Above is a picture of a street in Otavalo. It's cute and quaint and a whole lot cleaner than Quito. Otavaleños seem to understand that trash goes into trashcans. Below is a picture of the famous "guaguas de pan" or as we would say in English, "bread babies." "Guagua" is actually the Quichua word for "baby," but like many Quichua words, it has become a normal part of the vocabulary in Ecuador. So anyway, these guaguas de pan are the traditional food for the "Dia de los Difuntos" (Day of the Dead) that falls on November 2 in Ecuador. Many people visit cemetaries on this day and bring food to share with their dead relatives. The babies made of bread are not eaten alone, however. They are accompanied by "colada morada" otherwise known as "purple strained" stuff. It's a thick juice type drink made of blackberries, strawberries, frutilla, pineapple, and mortiño cooked down with sugar until they are a purple liquid. It's really really delicious especially when you dip your bread baby in it.

Below is a flower. An example of some of the beautiful nature that I saw on my hike around the waterfalls of Peguche. There was lots of colorful vegetation that lined the path on the way to the waterfalls. It was so great to be out of the city for a few hours.
The day after Otavalo I went to the town of Latacunga, two hours south of Quito. This town is very close to the active volcano Cotopaxi--a huge and beautiful white-capped mountain that looms over the countryside. But I didn't go to Latacunga for the views. I went with some members of my family to see the most famous celebration of the year in Latacunga. It's called "Mama Negra" which translates to "Black (or "African" to be PC) Mama." I still don't know the exact significance of the celebration, but it has something to do with the mixing of Ecuadorian, Spanish and African cultures (when the Spanish brought slaves to Ecaudor this happened). Whatever it used to mean I'm not so sure, but from what I could see, today "Mama Negra" means tons of people (see below), dancing, music, parades, and beer. There were so many people that it was hard to distinguish between the parade and the people watching. It was quite a sight to see. Sometimes being a "gringa" has disadvatages, but when local people are happy and having fun it seems like everyone wants to talk to the "gringita" and it's good for me to practice my Spanish skills.
So that's pretty much it for now. I'll have another update soon (I promise), so check back in a couple days to hear about my "taste of America" in Quito when I visited the home of the Marcums (a missionary couple living here). Bueno, ¡que tengan un buen día y hasta luego mis amiguitos!


Anonymous your papa said...

Sweet Miranda - It is so good to hear from you and to see that you are experiencing more of God's amazing creation. We can hardly wait to come and visit you and to let you show us around your new "home." I love you and keep the updates coming!

4:52 p. m.  
Blogger bradfordlstevens said...

I can see why you would stand out in those crowds Gringita! Enjoy and be safe! We are keeping you in our prayers!

God bless,

9:12 p. m.  
Anonymous Anónimo said...

Hi sweetie! Wish I were there to go on your hikes with you and let you shop to your little hearts content. Thank you so much for the update. I'm always so disappointed when I check your blog and there is nothing new. I love you and miss you! Kiss, Kiss

2:31 p. m.  
Anonymous Anónimo said...

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9:17 p. m.  

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