March 27, 2010

A Family Affair

My mother’s entire family, with whom I reconnected 3 years ago, lives in Machala, a town on the coast, within blocks of one another. I’ve been staying at one of my aunt’s apartment in Cuenca, which she keeps as a holiday home for her children. My other aunt keeps an apartment in the same building for her children’s use on holidays as well. When my aunt called me to let me know she was coming, I knew that it went without saying that an assortment of family members and friends were coming as well. It is not unusual in Ecuador for extended families to regularly vacation together and for friends and their children to join them, here and there. All in all, within the course of Wed-Sun, with varying arrivals and departures, 9 adults and 7 children were around laughing, talking, and playing, going from one apartment to another.

I did not grow up this way and I think how much fun it must be, especially as I was watching the kids interact, to grow up with this kind of day-to-day contact with the extended family. My cousins recount with great pleasure, and often with much laughter, tales of their adventures growing up together. I get a little jealous and then I realize, given how much I need and enjoy time alone, that it might have been difficult for me to have that number of people around. I grew up in a large family (6 siblings) so I wasn’t lacking for company, and that actually felt like too many people to contend with. I learned to tune them out by reading all the time, so maybe having oodles of kids and adults around would not have been an ideal situation for me! In any case, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

We went off to Azogues, about an hour northeast of Cuenca but before I continue, I want to point out another Ecuadorean custom. One way to accommodate varying numbers of children at any given moment is to bundle them up on the cargo area of the vehicle. Here you see an assortment of nephews and their friends, who were riding in the back and one niece, who happened to be sitting there while we were waiting for something (we were traveling on two vehicles). The kids seem to have a blast riding al fresco. Is this safe? Possibly not, but they haven’t lost any kids this way so far.

On the way we stopped for lunch at one of the many small roadside restaurants, which dot all roads in Ecuador. This one served roast pig and something I’d not seen before.

Cesina is aged pork or beef (salted and air dried for at least a week), which is then grilled to order. I didn’t try it this time as I had a hankering for crispy pork skin but I’m keeping it in mind for the future.

The kids were getting antsy so we stopped at a park, where the adults immediately joined in the fun (see the top picture as well).

We then went to the town center, where the contest for Miss Azogues was taking place. We didn’t stay for long but here are a couple of pictures of the entertainment. I would venture to guess that these are little Miss Azogues in training.

And here is a performer in native dress waiting to go onstage.

We ended the day with an ice cream, which was so good I didn’t get a chance to take a photo before they were all gobbled up. As I’m writing this in my room, I’m listening to the family continue to socialize, the adults laughing as hard as the kids. I, on the other hand, being the introvert that I am, will hide out until I recover from this very full and social day. As much as I enjoyed today, I think it really might have been a good thing that I didn’t grow up with an extended family!


Anonymous said...

This post is hysterical.

looloo said...

I'm glad you think so--my relatives couldn't understand why I was so exhausted. I tell you, I would have had a hard time surviving an Ecuadorean childhood--just way too much fun for the likes of me!