Thursday, November 22, 2007

So Much To Be Thankful For !

Our first Thanksgiving in the jungle.

We had officially moved into the village in October and were living in a "borrowed" indian hut while trying to build our own. That was the time we all got our first taste of malaria and, thus, of quinine! It was my first time to hallucinate. First time I saw a corpse burned and then consumed by the family members, first time we built a coffin, first time I slept to the sound of indian drums.

I was reading aloud the Little House on the Prairie books to my children. I recall vividly their excitement when Laura and Pa listened all night to the indian drums! Because we had been doing just that ourselves for over a week.

We were living much the same as Laura Ingalls and her family had over a century ago. We had no floors, no running water, we were using kerosene lanterns for light, and eating what was hunted or grown in the gardens.

There were very few believers in the village yet, so the norm was for the tribe to "party" about every two months or so, with dancing, chanting, and drinking. This , of course, led to fighting and abusing of women, and abandoned hungry children.

All day, all night, the drums would BOOM! BOOM!BOOM! As the Ye'kwanas did their slow dancing shuffle, two steps forward, one step back. In a circle around the round house. Over and over until you passed out. This had been going on for 8 days, leading up to Thanksgiving.

The floor of the round house was covered in vomit. A white frothy foam on the ground, a terrible stench in the air, and roaches crawling all over everything! Little babies sitting on the ground crying amidst the vomit.

We had another elderly missionary couple fly out to spend the holiday with us. Dear friends who are like grand parents to my children. We were excited to speak English and to eat all the goodies they brought. One of the pilot's wife, Tracy, sent out home made banana bread! Yummo!

(My kitchen at the time)

We had no turkey, or even chicken. We had fresh tapir!

With yucca and canned corn.

I had brought out some dried apples and we made a pie. We also invited a christian Ye'kwana to come eat with us. The children called him "Squanto" all day! After tasting the pie, Antonio decided that Thanksgiving was a nice tradition!

The best part of that day was that the dancing finally stopped and we could sleep in our hammocks that night without the drums! Peaceful, quiet sleep.

We were truly thankful!


Deborah said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Jungle Mom! I pray you have a wonderful day with all your family and friends!

God bless you!


Always On Watch said...

The spirit of Thanksgiving is in the heart--no matter where we celebrate the day.

Blessed Thanksgiving to you, Jungle Mom!

jennifer said...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Neat to be able to share the tradition and that the other couple came to make your day special!

Have a great stay!

julie said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Jungle Mom! You always do put things in perspective :)

Bar Kochba said...

What does tapir taste like? Have a great Thanksgiving!

Ashley said...

Hope you're having a good thanksgiving!

And I had never heard that story! How horrifying! O__o

Liz said...

Feliz día de Acción de Gracias!
for all of you down there...

Jungle Mom said...

Tapir is a dark meat and tastes a lot like beef.It also had a fatty hump on its back that tastes a lot like bacon,.

Jungle Mom said...

Liz, ojala q tu podrias estar aqui para comer Pie de Ayama!!!

Mishel said...

Thank you for sharing memories of your first Thanksgiving in the jungle. Quite different than what we are used to here in the U.S!! : )

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sarah Joy said...

Happy Thanksgiving Rita! This is our first year having Thanksgiving in Mexico, but we are having our feast today instead of yesterday. No tapir on the menu!

Brooke said...

What was the point of the natives dancing like that? It seems rather self-destructive.

Jungle Mom said...

it is destructive, it is all part of their pagan belief system involving appeasement of spirits. Once there were several converts, things began to change and after ten years the parties consisted of 10 or so men complaining that all the girls were now all christians and there was no one to dance with.

Dawn said...

That is quite a story! Thanks for sharing it. I hope you had a great time having Thanksgiving here in America this year.

Michael said...

After tasting the pie, Antonio decided that Thanksgiving was a nice tradition

I bet the pie was better than the tapir!

I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving this year.

The Brothers said...

what did tapir taste like?

The Brothers said...

what did tapir taste like? how was it prepared?

Jungle Mom said...

brothers, Tapir tastes a lot like beef! It is a red meat and we always referred to it as the jungle cow. I have prepared it as a stew, roast, or even smoked.