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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Santa Rosa - Family Reunion

This is a reality post. What I am going to share with you, including the pictures, can be quite disturbing to some.  Read at your own risk!

Dear Family and Friends,

I told you in our last blog post that we were headed to Santa Rosa for a fiesta.  Well, that is not what it turned out to be for us.  Yes, there was a fiesta in Santa was a celebration of Saint Rose (I think this is the same saint as Saint Rosa de Lima in Peru).  The town was filled with the typical celebration festivities, vendors, fireworks, and artisans.

We, Chuck and I, were invited to Santa Rosa to be part of a family reunion.  I misunderstood Lourdes when she was inviting us.  What we got was an experience like none other.

You might remember our trip from before.  Lourdes' mother lives right smack dab in the middle of a very large banana plantation.  She does not own the plantation, she does not even own her own house.  The house is a very basic concrete structure.  Lourdes and her six siblings were lovingly raised by her mother in this house.

The yellow arrow points to where the three bedrooms are located.  The red arrow points to the kitchen.  Behind the kitchen is a large room with a concrete floor for eating.  In the back of the building are two bathrooms (men and women) with a couple of toilet stalls and showers in each.  It was my impression that Lourdes' mother cooks for the workers of the plantation.  Basically, the three rooms upstairs are all that are really hers.  The kitchen, eating room and bathrooms are there for the workers and she gets to use them.

Since there is no living or family room, the covered packing shed is used by the family for sitting and entertaining..

When I was putting this post together, I didn't know if I should sugar coat things or tell it like we saw and experienced it.  I have decided to do the latter.  For all the complaining I hear from people back home about how rough it is, I think people living in the U.S. should be aware of how some people in other countries live.  There are many poor families in Ecuador...this is just our experience of spending the day with this special family.

Lourdes' mothers name is Rose.  Her children chose this day (day of Saint Rose) to come together, honor their mother and celebrate together. 

The brothers and sisters pooled their money and bought a pig, butchered it and spent all day preparing a very special meal.  This is a really big deal because buying a whole pig is expensive.

Luckily, we did not arrive until after the pig was ready for cooking.

The following pictures are of the preparations for the big meal.

Below green bananas are being peeled and cut into chunks.

Inside the kitchen Lourdes, her mother and other family members are chopping onions, garlic and cabbage.

 When it was time to get started cooking the pig, the heavy duty pots were brought out.

Chopping up the pork.

Lourdes' little brother took great pleasure in showing us the pig's tongue.  Every part of the pig was utilized.

The men were in charge of cooking the meat.

Like I said, nothing went to waste.  William is holding up the pig's tail.

The intestines were cleaned and stuffed with a mixture of I am not sure what.

Some of the intestines were stuffed in the kitchen with the onion, garlic and cabbage mixture.

I kept reminding myself that this is how things were in the U.S. over a hundred years ago.  People lived on small farms, butchered their own meat and made their own sausage.  I felt that I was taking a trip back in time.

It was a whole day affair.  Like any family reunion, some of the family played soccer and volley ball while others watched.

The kids enjoyed teasing the puppies.

Everyone came together about 6:00 pm for the grand finale..."chauncho" fried pork, corn, fried green bananas, and fruit juices.  This was the feast that the whole day was building up to.  Would you believe I forgot to take a picture of my plate ... sorry.

We were the only non-family members there.  Earlier in the day, this kind fellow brought these bananas and said they were for us.  He said they had not been sprayed or treated with pesticides.  They were the biggest bananas we had ever seen. 

It was a day we will not soon forget.  Lourdes, our housekeeper, and her husband are very special to us.  We feel so fortunate that they included us in this special day.

Here is a picture of Lourdes, her mom and brothers.  Her sister was not able to be there.  What a beautiful family.

Chuck and I returned to Cuenca the next day.  We have been home a week now and for some reason we have not had any pork to eat all week.



  1. Wonderful post Nancy, I am posting it to MY FB page and forwarding to a few friends in the U.S. who might need a reality check! :>) Glad you are home safe and sound!

  2. Nancy, great post. I love Lourdes too and it was a delight to see her family and hear about your adventure. She is a dear. Thanks so much for sharing this. Dean Keyes

  3. Great post. What a wonderful experience for you!

  4. Hi Nancy, I am "another Nancy" who will be joining you in Cuenca as of Sept 16 . Your experience is exactly what I am looking forward to. I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (served when I was 53 in Central Asia)& my special memories are of similar gatherings. Thank you for your post & I look forward to meeting you & other expats. There are 3 of us who are traveling to Cuenca on the 16th & will be looking for the "expats hangout" on that Fri evening. Best regards, Nancy G.

  5. What a great experience, Nancy! What a wonderful chance to share in Lourdes' family's day. I can see why you feel honored to be included in the family celebration!

    Thank you for sharing!!
    Looking forward to seeing you and Chuck in September.

  6. Great Story! I grew up on a farm, and we lived a simple life, not as simple as those of EC, but I really miss it. Wish I could have raised my children that way. We stayedin Olonfor 2 weekslast year, and witnessed a funeral for a wellknow man there...Amazing, the whole town took part, and really celebrated his life. We loved the exerience, hoping to have more of those this year in Cuenca! See you soon Chuck and Nancy and Rich..

  7. I always enjoy your photos, Nancy, and this was no exception. The shot of the bananas and the kindness of the people to make sure you had a special gift from their resources is very touching.
    Thank you for sharing what it was like to be with the family for a day.

  8. Thanks for sharing Rose's special day. I love to see these kind of events focusing on the most important aspects of life, family, friends, and experiences. While it gives those who have more some perspective, it puts the material things in their appropriate place. You are both fortunate to have been invited to share in Lourdes' family's celebration. I am sure it is a day you will remember.

  9. Robert and Di SpencerSeptember 4, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    What a great post! Di and I really enjoyed it. Bob and Di Spencer

  10. Great post, Nancy! It looks like you had a GREAT day. I, too, remember when we used to visit my aunt and uncle when I was a kid. They raised rabbits and would skin them by the barn. And my brother and cousin would go "frog-gigging" at night by the pond and eat fried frog legs the next day. I never really learned to like to eat rabbit OR frog legs, but I have some great memories. Sue


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