Beans, beans, the magical fruit
Picture the scene a couple nights ago: Becky on her bed reading by the light of her gas lamp. Everything is calm and tranquil. Then the power comes back. I blow out the lamp to use my lights in my house. Two minutes later it goes out again. I light my candle and my lamp again. The power comes again. I wait a couple minutes this time to make sure it’s there to stay, and blow out the candle and lamp again. Almost immediately after that se fue la luz (power went out) yet again! This time I resolved to leave my candle burning no matter what happened. Luckily the craziness of that night with the power doesn’t happen often, but it was after a bunch of rainstorms and something was not working right. Normally in our campo we have power for anywhere from two to six hours at a time before it leaves us for about the same amount of time. Sometimes more, sometimes less. And now I have yet another reason to like the electricity: I have a blender. And not just any old blender. This was a gift from my friend Ney, a Spanish-descended wealthy old man in my community – I think he’s around 90 – who lent me this blender from 1940-something. It’s square! Although it’s missing its lid and only has one speed, it works. My first experiment was to blend guanábana fruit with sugar and a little water to make popsicles in my neighbor’s freezer, an experiment I hope to repeat soon.
Celebrating Easter didn’t end here until Monday, when what seemed like the entire campo went to the beach together. Return to elementary school days: cramming together three to a seat on a school bus to get there. Luckily my seat sharers were skinny! After the priest said the blessing to start us out on the right foot, he declared, Ahora música, má ná! (Now music and no more!) and everybody on the bus cheered… until they heard the religious tunes blasting from the bus’ speakers. Protests abounded and continued the two hours it took to get to the beach. On the way back from the beach was when the priest finally relented to let the people have their say and listen to their reggaeton, salsa, bachata, and merengue. The worst things to happen at the beach were some sunburns and one teen that got really drunk and kept pretending to drown. He would throw himself in the water face down and stay there until the people watching began to get excited. Finally someone threw him into the back of a truck to take him to the hospital, which made him shape up pretty quickly.
Other than the beach, everyone here celebrates holy week by (if not going to the beach or a river) making habichuela con dulce, or a dessert made from beans, batata, milk, a lot of sugar, etc. It’s sort of like the US’ Christmas cookie tradition in that everyone makes a whole lot for the purpose of giving away to all their neighbors, and everyone’s is just a little different from the next person’s. Some have more raisins, some more little cookies on top, some are thicker, some have all the beans processed, and you can eat it hot and fresh or cold afterwards. Now the problem is that it has coconut milk in it, and so sometimes it’s really hard on your stomach. I didn’t have any problems at all the whole week and was even eating it for breakfast cold, until the fateful fourth day of eating it, when something went bad and I had a horrible night afterwards. No more hcd for me… I cogí miedo (got scared!) from then on out.