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 month 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!
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 drumming finally stopped and we could sleep in our hammocks that night without the drums! Peaceful, quiet sleep. In later years we would come to find the sound of the drums to be calming, but not that first month.
We were truly thankful!