Year THREE in Zacango here we come...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Good-Bye Kiara!

Our good friend and fellow MCCer Kiara headed back to the States a few weeks ago and here are the kids giving her her good-bye presents. Kiara never missed giving each of the kids their hello and good-bye kisses whenever she saw them. Toward the end of her term she lived in Mexico City and always took really good care of us whenever we were in the city -- cooking for us, helping us get packages, and helping us navigate the big city. Thanks so much for everything Kiara, especially your friendship...we are really going to miss you!!!
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pirates Envade the Presa

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Our Milpa

Picking maize corn in our milpa. Most of the maize will be left to dry to use for tortilla dough and feed for our animals but around this time people here pick the fresh maize to boil (called "elotes"). Sometimes they are prepared by smothering them with mayonaise, chili powder, and cheese but in Zacango people mostly just eat them as is immediately after they are boiled. Yum!
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Birthday Season in Zacango!

It seems like October is a popular month to have a birthday in Zacango! In the past two weeks we have celebrated six birthdays! Here are some left over pictures from Zam's party (see his Batman pinata in the bottom right hand corner second from the end); as well as pictures of Enrique's birthday (Zam's good friend in bottom right photo), Hizee's friend Lizette's birthday (little girl in pink in the third picture top row and her pinata pictures -- Ziko and Hizee hitting a pink pinata), Cleofas' birthday (Miguel and Enrique's mom), Zam's friend Carmelo's birthday (his mom made pizza for his party), and Isabel's birthday (teenager in the pink shirt in the first picture in the second row of photos, she's holding her little sister Lupe).
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Some late birthday pictures...Zam opening his presents from Grandparents on the morning of his birthday. Hizee and Ziko also wrapped and gifted bunch of their toys and gave them to Zam (it was very sweet)! Mom, these are the night spy googles that we picked out for Zam from the money you sent. He really loves them! Thanks for the gifts Grandmas and Grandpas!

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Animal Update

Things have been changing on our little "farm." We said good-bye to the kittens a couple of weeks ago accept for "Eatty" who Hizee is holding in the bottom right corner. Eatty got lucky and now has his mom all to himself. She continues to baby him -- he still nurses at nine weeks old and she still "bathes" him every day.
We have a new batch of guinea pigs almost every two months. It's fun to see all the different colours that emerge. They are very popular with the kids in Zacango and make great birthday presents. All the "orders" for guinea pigs and bunnies have yet to be filled. We aren't having as much luck with the baby bunny production however.
And lastly, we said good-bye to Pig Pig a few weeks ago. She was getting too big to justify keeping her as a "pet." When you would pet her she would flop down on your feet nearly crushing one's bones; and everyone in Zacango was asking when the heck we were going to slaughter her: "she's ready, she's ready!" I didn't want to hear her screams in Zacango so we sold her to a butcher in Olinala (sorry to all the animal rights activists out there...however, she had a pretty good life as far as the life of a pig goes). I learnt a lot about how to feed a pig through Pig Pig. We have a new little pig now named "Oreo Cookie" and she's solely getting kitchen scraps and tiny amounts of maize. We'd like to keep her a little longer and see if we can get some piglets.
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Introducing Salsa!

And...our most exciting animal update is the addition of our new burra named "Salsa!" We actually got her a couple of weeks ago but I am still playing catch-up with posting photos. People in Zacango know how obsessed we are (okay, how obsessed I am) with baby animals so a few months back our friends Anastasia and Hermilo asked if we wanted to buy one of their burras (they have eleven dokeys/horses/mules). Bruce explained that we only wanted a burra to be able to have a little burrito (baby donkey) and that if we bought her now we wouldn't be able to enjoy the burrito because we'd have to wait for her to get pregnant and then the gestation period to follow is too long (around 11months). By the time the burrito would be born it would be almost time for us to leave Mexico. Hermilo said he understood. However, a few months later he showed us that the burra had become pregnant during the spring -- it was now visable via her "pancita" (enlarged stomach area) meaning that she would give birth sometime in January. We then decided to just go for it and buy her. Who knows about the burrito...our neighbors say it will probably only be born in May.
In any case, we love her...she is a real gem!!! She's extra gentle and is a lot shorter than Taco, so if Hizee is standing on a slope she can hop onto her! Hizee rides her bareback as her "pancita" is too big to put a saddle around right now. Taco and Salsa are a good combination (afterall with names like Taco and Salsa how couldn't they be?)! Taco, however, is like a big puppy dog and is quite jealous of Salsa. When we go to collect them from the pasture he butts her out of the way so that we'll pet him instead of her!

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School Goers

Ziko and Hizee go to the local preschool/kindergarten two days a week and on the other days they "study" at home. Ziko has mastered the study of play, hence, his Master Player Award; and Hizee is all about hittin' the books (and is pretty serious about playing too) -- she has just finished Module 3 in her kindergarten homeschool curriculum.

Zam's classroom in the house. Will post one of Hizee's class later.
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Good-Bye Flo

This past week we lost our little Florisita (Flo). She was underneath the car (wanting to go along with us as always) and Bruce accidentally back over her. It was two weeks short of a year that she was with us.
Flo was a very little dog living in a very big world. During her first few weeks in Zacango we lost her daily and the entire neighbourhood would go on a “Flo search.” We would always find her cuddled up in a corner under the bed.
Flo was beyond affectionate due to the loads of attention she received while being raised by her owner Hizee. Flo was never a novelty for Hizee. Hizee loved her just as much, and more, the day she died as the day we got her. Hizee loved to care for Flo – to feed her, bath her, sleep with her, cuddle her, wrestle with her, and go for hikes with her. Zam and Ziko were also very close with Flo; especially Zam. Flo often slept in Zam’s bed too.
Flo drove Bruce and I crazy sometimes. She was could be quite weasely and often continued to do what she knew she wasn’t supposed to do. For example, near the end of her life she was banned from the beds because she had a problem with fleas. She knew she wasn’t supposed to be on the bed and when you came in the room she would slither off as you told her “no.” However, two minutes later she was right back on the bed.
The night before Flo died Hizee and Bruce gave her the longest flea bath she’d ever had. She was fresh and flea-free and was permitted to sleep with Hizee. Hizee was ecstatic as the two of them cuddled together under the covers. What a great last memory for Hizee!
We will miss you Floey…thanks for a great year and all the beautiful memories!
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

A few weeks ago Olinala had their annual fiesta in honour of St. Francis. If there is anything that we have learnt after living in Mexico for a year it’s that fiestas and the “art” of fiesta-ing are EXTREMELY important here! At any given moment you can be assured that somewhere in Mexico a fiesta is happening – that some community somewhere is celebrating their patron Saint. The amount of time, organization, energy and money that goes into creating, and taking part in, a fiesta is nothing short of astounding! While people here are able to celebrate for days with what seems like, to us, an endless supply of energy we are usually tired after a measly two hours. So when the guys in Zacango asked Bruce if he’d like to go to a hillside two hours away to collect flowers with them to make decorations for Olinala’s festival (apparently the flower collecting for this event falls to the men – perfect job for Bruce) with the departure time of 4 am we were not surprised! The decorations that emerged are pictured below and are utterly spectacular!

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Mario at home with his flowers.

Luis, Cleofas, Herminio, and Blanca stripping the leaves from the flowers and tying them in bunches which will eventually be put together on large poles to become "maluches" (no idea how to spell that in Spanish). At this point we still had no idea what the finished product would look like, even though people were trying to explain it to us. We went to Luis' house to "learn" what we were supposed to do and emerged with the conclusion that we probably would be incapable of contructing whatever it was we were supposed to construct (especially seeing as though it's the "man's job" to tie up the flowers and Bruce always plays the "non-crafter" card.) Thus, Luis was kind enough to make our flower pole for us and what emerged was incredibly beautiful. See all the beautiful maluches below.
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The finished "maluches."
Don Zoilo
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Hiking from Zacango to Olinala for the procession. About one hour and a half walk.

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The community of Zacango procession arriving in Olinala and filing into the church with their flowers.

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