Well, Bo and I had our first experience of celebrating The New Year in Dan Dan, Ecuador! We laughed, ate, drank, danced all night, and were embraced and welcomed by Pedro's extended family. There must have been over 50 relatives there - Parents, siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and on and on. They kept arriving throughout the day and evening. There was so much love and unity in this huge family. Every child would come up to Bo and me and hug (cheek to cheek) and welcome us. The music blared from the time we arrived New Years Eve at 10:30 a.m. until 5 a.m. the next morning (really!).
Throughout the day, every woman prepared and cooked each meal and course and served the men and children. Some of the men would help (Pedro was one of them), but most sat around drinking and talking together. The children were quiet, respectful, and were having a wonderful time together. When food was served, the younger ones ate whatever was being served. There was never a whine or complaint the entire time we were there. Adults spoke softly and lovingly, with authority, to the children, and there was such a tenderness and joy throughout the day. It was such an observation of a family that worked together, played and celebrated together, and everyone took care of each other. Teens took care of the younger children while parents were busy with different tasks. Everyone seemed to know just what to do and when to do it. We were in awe of this family and humbled and honored with our time spent with them.
Because this family grows their own food and raises their meat, everything was harvested fresh as each meal was prepared. The pig was killed, butchered, and every part of that "Choncho" was used throughout the day. Even the brains! This was not a place for vegetarians, mind you! Some of the family would disappear down the hill into the fields and later return carrying huge bags of harvest fruits and vegetables for the day's courses being served. I even watched one of the women feeding her grandchild fresh fruit and fresh juice from the fruit of Pedro's parents' trees (no canned baby food or processed formula for these babes). It truly was a celebration and a sight to behold. We will always remember our time in Dan Dan celebrating and hugging in the New Year with our Ecuadorian friends. We have received many invitations to come back, and also individual invitations to come visit Pedro's brother's farm and on and on. We are humbled by their love and acceptance of us into their family.
|When Pedro, Bo, and I arrived at Sra. Rosa and Sr. Salvador's, the Chancho was already butchered and family members were gathered around torching the carcass for the first course.|
|Crispy salty choncho skin served over Choclo with Aji sauce.|
|Dad and son pose with the four dummies that would stare at us all day until the "burning of the ano viejo dummies" at midnight!|
|After the crispy carcass was removed, the "chancho" was defatted and then taken to a table where it was butchered. Pedro insisted on a photo of me and Bo and piggy!|
|We watched a very laborious task of defating the pig!|
|The beginning of the butchering. It was a very long process, since they cut up every part of this pig and use it for many meals.|
|Some of the women making the stuffing for the intestines, which are thoroughly washed - another process we've never seen before.|
|Many hands stuffing the carefully prepared intestines.|
|A picture of love and caring - Carlos was continually holding or watching over the young ones.|
|This family danced all day and all night - into the early morning. The music blared over the hill tops, and Bo and I knew that by evening, we would be dragged out to dance and join in the festivities. We were right - and we did - and we loved it!!!!|
|Some of the fresh plantains from the land are being prepared for the next course - a delicious chancho "caldo" (broth) with added vegetables and seasonings.|
|Sr. Salvador and his great great grandson, Mateo - a picture of the family generations.|
|The pig fat was cooked over a hot fire and became a delicous course of Chicharron with Camote (an Ecuadorian sweet potato) which was served over rice.|
|Another pot of pork meat is being cooked while women in the background clean more pork.|
|Pedro and his sister-in-law enjoy a laugh, while she stays with the pots of cooking pork!|
|Family of women in the kitchen making tamales!|
|Stirring the Tostones. Guess where the brains went?|
|Bo and I took a moment to walk down the path where the approaching evening lighting was magical and the view breathtaking. In the midst of the solitude and beauty, the music blared and the laughter was infectious!|
|The three photos above are of the evening celebration - Ecuadorian music, dancing, and lots of chatter and laughter. Do you think Sra. Rosa is having a grand time?|
|This is Pedro's brother (Jose) and Cousin, posing with one of the Ano Viejo dummies. The dummies got to party and dance before their final end!|
|Finally, everyone moves over to the dummy burning ceremony. It symbolizes "good riddance and out with the old - which includes bad habits."|
|Then midnight arrived, and every person present went around hugging and wishing each other a Feliz Ano Nuevo. Not one person was left out of this New Year blessing. (That's Bo smiling in the background amongst all the tiny Ecuadorians.)|
|Cousins and family holding each other as they view more fireworks!|
|.... one more time!!!!|
|And another jumper goes......|
For now, may all who have read this posting know that for us, living here in Ecuador is about the people we meet daily and those we are invited by to share their family life's special celebrations with. Bo and I have now been blessed to know a true Ecuadorian family that knows how to work and play together, and that have lovingly embraced these two extranjeros (foreigners) into their home.
May the New Year bring each and everyone of you a new and wonderful people adventure like you've never had before!!!!