Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One minute you’re down…

Monday, 4-18-11

…the next you’re right back up again. That’s kind of what my day was like today and I’m not sure why. Nothing bad happened but sometimes I just find myself upset about little things.

The sink in my bathroom had been plugged since last night. I decided to wait to see if the water went down and it didn’t so I told Cecilia. I wasn’t for sure if there was something special they did or what they wanted me to do. I just didn’t want to break anything. Plus I didn’t know where to find the tools or possibly drain cleaner I’d need to fix it. Cecilia worked on it for a while and after a while she had it fixed. I didn’t care that the sink was plugged but I felt bad that Ceci had to be the one to fix it. I hate it when I manage to screw something up and the ladies have to fix it for me. I don’t like making messes that others have to clean up. That’s just rude.

Later on Cecilia went to the market to get some things for lunch. She returned home with some fruit for everyone. She held it up to me and I recognized it as “níspero” which I’d had once before. She bought it because she wanted to add to my fruit picture collection and fruit blog that I want to write sometime. I was excited to try it again because the first time I ate it, it was rotten. She opened it up for me so I could try some. I took one whiff and knew I wouldn’t like it. But I tried it anyway. I really didn’t like it.

Many foods I can eat even though I don’t like them but this was not one of those foods. She could tell by the look on my face that I didn’t like it and told me I didn’t have to eat it. I felt really bad again because she’d fixed my sink and then went to the trouble of buying me fruit for my little fruit experiment and I didn’t like it. She asked if I had more fruit leftover from yesterday and I told her I did. I still needed to eat the sapote, guayaba, and carambola. She and Aminta told me that the sapote was a cousin fruit to the níspero. I had a bad feeling that I was not going to like the sapote. I’m going to try it anyway.


I spent the rest of the morning working on my blog. I went through each one and gave it one, two, or three labels. This way people can read about certain topics in my blog. It took a long time and wasn’t quite finished by lunchtime. I was about 2/3 of the way through the 152 blogs I’ve written since last February when I started my blog. I had created about 45 different categories. It’s a big much, I know, and obviously I don’t need to list them here (look over to the right side of the screen and scroll down), but I enjoyed doing it. I like organizing things. It makes me feel calm and like I have more things under control. I’m thinking about creating a “favorites” category for the blogs I like the most. We’ll see.

After lunch Cecilia came down from the ladies bodega laughing. She told us that Barbara had gone into their room and laid two eggs in the corner by Blanca’s bed. I went up there to look and sure enough, two duck eggs were laying there on the floor. Cecilia picked them up and put them outside underneath a tree. I think we should dye them for Easter so we can have Easter eggs. That would be fun! Actually, my first suggestion was to cook them up and feed them to Kathy. Then afterwards tell her she’d eaten Barbara’s eggs. Blanca and Cecilia laughed and told me I was bad.

Barbara's eggs

Cecilia and I made a quick run out to the market to get some fruit and something else for the special sweets that we were going to make. The sweets are called conservas and are popular to make here during Holy Week and Easter. First we searched the market for some good plantains. When we stopped at a stand to purchase some I saw some cool mangos that were red, orange, and green on the outside. I commented on how pretty they were. Cecilia picked one up and said we could buy it. I need learn to keep my mouth shut. If you tell somebody here that you like something such as a certain food, their jewelry, or even a type of bird, you might end up taking that thing home with you. That’s how I ended up with the mango, a bracelet, and a pet bird.

Next we needed to find “panela.” I had no clue what panela was. I knew it was sweet and we were going to use it to make the special treats but other than that I was clueless. When Cecilia pointed it out to me I immediately recognized it. I’ve always seen it at the market but I’ve never known what it was. I always thought it was some sort of brown sugar. I looked it up when we got home. Panela is unrefined whole cane sugar, typical from Latin America, which is basically a solid piece of sucrose and fructose obtained from the boiling and evaporation of sugarcane juice. The panela can be manufactured in disc-shaped pieces or in cubic pieces and is usually gold or brown in color (thanks again, Wiki).

We got it all home and Aminta started to create our special “conservas.” You put the panela into a pot and add a little bit of water. This needs to get hot and boil for a while. Then you add sliced up plantains to the mix. This cooks for quite a while (I’m not sure how long). The plantains get mushy and the panela turns into a thick syrup/gel. When it’s finally finished you have yourself a delicious treat! The panela itself tastes kind of like a mix of white sugar and brown sugar with just a hint of molasses. When it’s combined with fruit it’s absolutely wonderful!! I love it. Creating “conservas” can be done with many kinds of fruit: plantains, mangos, jocotes, apples, grapes, strawberries etc. But typically during this time of year it’s done with only with plantains, mangos, and jocotes. I think we’re going to do it with jocotes on Wednesday.

The panela and water in the pot


Aminta adding the plantains to the mix

Cooking it

The finished product

Then we all started to work on making paper flowers for the morning celebration in Alejandría on Friday. The ladies showed me how to make them and my first couple turned out pretty well. I was excited to be able to help. But after that the quality of my flowers seemed to go down the drain. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong and got frustrated. I decided to quit making that kind of flower because I didn’t want to botch them all. I tried looking up how to make origami paper flowers online because they ladies wanted different ideas and I was feeling uncreative. That didn’t go over so well and after two attempts at flowers I eventually gave up. The only origami thing I know how to make is a bat and I didn’t think that’d be especially helpful for Good Friday.

From there things seemed to quickly spiral out of control. Have you ever had one of those times when something trivial made you upset and made you think about everything else that you couldn’t do well in life? That’s where I was. Before I knew it thoughts were floating through my head about how I was a completely inadequate woman down here. I couldn’t make paper flowers well, my tortillas aren’t that great, I can’t wash sheets in a pila, I would drop a cántaro if I tried to carry a full one on my head, etc.

I decided to work on my blog a little more. I did and finally got it finished. It felt good to get it done. I was a little bummed out because the way to view the different categories isn’t quite how I’d like it and I can’t figure out how to change it. There may not be a way to change it. I wondered if I’d just wasted my entire morning and part of my evening doing this and if anyone would actually ever use the category list. Too late now.

Soon it was time for dinner. We had a small dinner which was just what I was looking for. Afterwards Cecilia fed me some of the conservas that we’d made. She had some in her hand and I ended up putting the whole thing in my mouth. She started laughing hysterically and the other ladies came into the room to see what was going on. I was beginning to feel better and tried to keep in mind that the world was not going to end just because I couldn’t make paper flowers or get my blog “just right.” I need to count the many blessings I have in my life. We spent the rest of the evening talking and eating the conservas. I guess it’s just one of those days.

Blanca making paper flowers

Chiquita helped me make my first one

We got a little silly making the flowers


Anonymous said...

Everyone has their own unique gifts and talents my friend. So what if paper-flower making is not your gift? You have plenty of other gifts that you so lovingly share with others. I could make a list - but wouldn't want to embarrass you!
Love ya.
Mama k

Matt said...

I'm excited that Barbara laid an egg! Those should make pretty Easter eggs. Those plantains look pretty good. Amazing how many ways they have to fix them.