Merry Christmas Everyone! My Christmas was so full its going to take a couple of blog entries to tell it all. I have some wonderful pictures to share with you all as well.
To start with this is a picture of my Bolivian family, ALL of them. And believe me, it was no easy task to get everyone in the house at the same time looking decent enough for a picture! But finally on Christmas Eve I managed to get everyone to co-operate. The last family photo I posted was missing Jaime and his son Marcello. Marcello is the middle child and is a doctor. He is currently in medical school in Argentina getting a speciality degree (for the back I believe). He just arrived back in Cochabamba the Sunday before Christmas. The family is very happy to have him home for a couple of weeks and I was glad to be able to get a complete family photo. He also came to my rescue with some antibiotics as I have been struggling for a while with a chest cold. He, like the rest of his family, have accepted me as one of their own. I thank God for them daily!
The traditions of Christmas in Bolivia vary by family, the same as in the states. My family orders all their food from a resturant. When I went with my family to pick it up my sister told me we were picking up DUCK! I told her, ´maybe you should have just told me it was chicken!´ This is a picture of my plate. It was actually very good! Dark meat. And no it did not taste like chicken! Well, maybe dark meat chicken, either way, it was moist and flavorful. Add this one to the list of Bolivian experiences :)
This is the family all sitting together enjoying our plate fulls of duck :)Oh, and this meal takes place at about 11pm. Most families however would have their meal at midnight.
This is also a tradition. Estella, Tina, and Natalia all worked together to make empenadas. I wanted to help but was afraid to as I was still sick at the time. These were made in preparation for the rest of the family gathering on Christmas day.
This is our tree, very similar to those found in the states. Side note, all the Christmas lights here ´sing´ but there are settings and you can turn the sound off. When I was helping to pick up the food for dinner I was singing in English along with the wordsless tune of the Christmas lights. My sister Natalia said to me that she´s never heard to words to the songs! That was a fun moment for me.
This is the manger scene in our home. At exactly midnight some candles are lit and baby Jesus is placed in the manger. That is followed by a time of silent prayer. Then came the opening of the presents. Very chaotic! Everyone was standing and handing out presents to everyone and then opening everything at once! I recieved s burned CD of a popular Bolivian band (excellent!), shower flipflops, a crystal angel pendent for a necklace and a bunch of candy. I enjoyed giving my small gifts to the family even more. Esp Marcello as I had only met him two days before. I gave both him and his parents framed copies of the family picture I had been in such a hurry to take. For my sister Patty I gave a framed picture of her two daughters. My sister Natalia recieved from me a rose candle holder. Estella and Jaime recieved a ¨Jesus bless this house´ plaque (in Español) and the family picture in a frame. Tina recieved from me a 2008 calander and some of her favorite chocolate. The little girls (technically my nieces) recieved candy and toy daiseys.
It was a night that I will never forget. I swear I fell asleep with a smile on my face. Its hard not to be happy when you realize you really do have TWO families! Its really hard to explain but its the most amazing feeling in the world.
Tomorrow look for part 2 as I tell the story of the rest of Christmas Day with friends. Stories and pictures galore :)