Our second week in Zacongo proved to be as busy and intense as the first. We are learning so much and while it can be a bit overwhelming at times we are mostly just enjoying all those first experiences that living in a new place brings. One of those “firsts” for me has been learning to make tortillas. It seems that the women here in Zacongo are very curious about what I do all day, and what our family is eating seeing as though I do not make tortillas. The conversations I’ve had with women in the community usually go something like this:
“Did you make tortillas today?”
“Then what did your family eat?”
“Some bread, pasta, vegetables, etc.”
“Don’t you like tortillas?”
“Yes, we like them.”
“Do you know how to make them?”
“Well, we can teach you how.”
“That would be great!”
And, thus, I have had a few lessons on how to make tortillas. It is quite a fun process (which is easy for me to say because I don’t have to stand in front of a smoky stove for hours making them) and the women are very excited for me when I am successful (which isn’t very often). The tricky part for me is getting the flattened circular piece of tortilla dough from my hand onto the hot stove (pan) -- I am always scared that I’m going to burn my hand. Other firsts include: harvesting corn by hand (Bruce), harvesting peanuts by hand (me), attending a Mexican birthday fiesta, and attending a fiesta for the patron saint of a neighbourhood in the nearby town of Olinala.
People here in Zacongo are extremely warm and generous. During the past two weeks I’m sure that well over a hundred tortillas have passed through our door (together with beans, salsa, peanuts, cookies, sweet potatoes, boiled maize, etc.) and people pop in often for visits. While this warm welcome continues to humble us we have had to relearn the idea of dropping whatever it is we are doing and taking the time to visit. We’ve experienced this type of lifestyle in other places that we have lived but it still doesn’t make it easy to shift your mind to making relationships come before all the “work” that “needs” to be done. (We are still busy unpacking and trying to establish some sort of sense of order in the house. We still don’t have running water – although our friend and fellow MCCer Martin is hard at work on it – and this means regular daily chores take a little longer.) At the same time, we know that we need breaks from always having people in the house if we want to remain somewhat sane. I guess it’s all about balance – which I’m sure is to come!