Thursday, November 27, 2008

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 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!

(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 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!


Siberia Tom said...

Rita that kitchen looks a lot like one I found refuge in one fall after several years of working too hard and not relaxing enough. I remember some pansitos with hamon y Queso. But the kitchens owner had a herniated disc and I am not sure remembers our visit. Thanks for the Memories.

Jungle Mom said...

Siberia Tom,
I have heard rumors of such a visit...I do not remember much about it...not sure I want to!
I do remember later visits, and you were there for our very last Thanksgiving just a few days before the great mass exodus.

Tapir Blog said...

So, an endangered species for the main course for Thanksgiving... what a way to celebrate *sigh*

Jungle Mom said...

Tapir Blog,
I suppose it would be best if the Indians died of starvation?
We did not kill the tapir, they did. In our area there is no shortage of tapirs and the indians know how to control the area so as not to over hunt them. After all, it is in their best interests to do so.
But, yes, we were thankful for the protein as all in the village needed some protein to stay healthy! Some consider the Indians to be an endangered species as well.
Survival of the fittest and all...

Barbara H. said...

Hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving -- and hopefully a less eventful one than the first one in the jungle. :-) But then again, that's where good stories come from -- the eventfulness.

Kath said...

Wow! What an experience! When you left, how many of those particular villagers were Christians? How blessed you were to be able to be there and help them in so many ways. Were any of your younger children born there? If so, did you leave the jungle to give birth? Again, all I can say is Wow! Enjoy your Thanksgiving today with your family who is with you! You have such good stories to tell the next generation!

Brenda said...

I can only imagine the culture shock you must have felt that first year! Wow!

Amanda said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! I hope you have a wonderful day together!

You don't need to approve this, but I'm so amazed that you got a comment about the tapir. Wow.

Anonymous said...

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you and yours!

Semper Fi

firepig said...

Happy Thanksgiving! Today I am cooking for all.

Was the yuca served wet in big vats?
Your description is amazing.It must have been tough at first.I hate to see children in any stage of neglect.

Did they also eat Chiguire ?
Were dantas plentiful?

Anonymous said...

Happy thanksgiving!

hmm what does tapir taste like?

Thursday's Child said...

Happy Thanksgiving! May you and your two spirits have a wonderful holiday.

Shane Rios said...

Hey atleast you had food right?

Soul Skittles said...

Happy thanksgiving!!!! :D

Betty said...

I started to write 3 times, but can´t find the right words to express how courageous I think you are. I can just say, I think you deserve to have the house you are living in now! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

Findalis said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Humble wife said...

Happy Thanksgiving! We shared Thanksgiving to our neighbors in was a win win- as they then included us on their holidays and traditions too!

Jan said...

Jungle has to be a true calling from God to minister under such conditions--one, that I'm sure, not a lot of people understand.

A wonderful, and blessed, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Kris said...

good thanksgiving wishes from San Antonio annual trek to be with my in-laws. i hope this day brings your family much joy and that we all count our blessings and give thanks for them.


Bob said...

Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Bob said...

P.S. Good comeback to "Tapir Blog!"

MightyMom said...

Happy Thanksgiving!

and tomorrow I want to read all about the first Thanksgiving in Paraguay!! :-)

MK said...

What an experience!

Thanks for sharing that with us JM.