Day 5: Those Were Supposed to be Tortillas?

Today, Tuesday the 8th, we awoke early to the sound of rain on our hotel’s tin roof. After a breakfast of “oatmeal” (which, as is traditional, didn’t have many oats), pancakes, and fruit, we headed out to Comalapa to meet up with our becadas. It was an hour drive from our jungle abode, which is much nicer than our previous hotel. We spent some time teaching the becadas to use an iPad to record sound, video, and photos. We then split into groups (two or three becada-Casti pairs per group) and went to the weavers’ houses. The majority of the day was spent in their humble homes, where we were eagerly welcomed. The following are stories from a couple of the trips.

Gabby: After walking to the town’s highest calle, we reached Angela’s house, arguably the most beautiful site in the pueblo. Her house overlooks several corn fields and is located next to a construction site for a new house. We were first greeted by Angela’s hija who sat cross legged on the patio working on her latest bufanda, a project that will take her over two months to finish. Getting a head start on preparation for almuerzo, we headed to the campos to cut down maìz. With two swift flicks of her muñeca, the corn was open and ready to be brought inside. Angela explained that this corn is not ready to boil because it is too moist. Instead we brought our husks inside and took the 8 day dry corn from under a piece of tin. We degranize-d the corn with our thumbs, allowing the kernels fall into plastic bowls. Angela said she often gets blisters but you get used to it. We brought the dry kernels she had prepared last night to an communal automatic grinder. She shared that she does not use it as often as she uses her own manos because the fees to use the blender are high. We brought the ground maìz back to her casa where she placed it in a bowl on the stove and began adding ingredientes. While it boiled we helped our becadas cut vegetables for the salsa and played with sus primos pequeños. When the dough was ready, we came inside and gathered around the fuerzo to form the tortillas. Clearly professional tortilla making no es en nuestros futuros. For every one tortilla we made, the becadas y Angela each made tres. When we finally sat down on the patio to eat, we inquired the girls why Angela was not joining us. They explained that she still has to make tortillas for the 6 members of her family. When asked to help her, they said that it would be better that I not because she wanted to finish the tortillas quickly. As our time winded down, we took our phones out to sacar some last photos. Interested by the music app, the becadas lead us towards a little dance party. We exchanged canciones in both languages and danced both country’s most popular songs. At the end of our time with Angela, we thanked her and walked back down the steep cerro.

Carly: I went to the house of Silvia, who is my becada’s sister. She eagerly welcomed us in and gave us a tour of her backyard, explaining how she and her family grew, shucked, sorted, and separated the kernels for the maìz. Colleen and I helped her and Doña Natalia sort the corn. Sandra (my becada) and I went out to grind some corn and buy some cilantro. The machine that mashes corn creates instant masa, aka dough, is very quick. After that, we helped in the kitchen making tortillas, which proved to be very difficult (see tweet) but worth the effort, because handmade food is the best. We sat down with various kids and adults, and after we’d almost finished the caldo de res, we played a game in which one of the boys gave us an English word and we’d have to translate it into Spanish. It was very interesting to see that, contrary to the lake, the kids here knew more English than their native language, because of the civil war in which the natives were slaughtered for speaking their language. After lunch, we cleaned up and headed back to the center to edit our projects.

After resting for a bit back at the hotel, we had a dinner with mashed potatoes (reminds me of home…) and roasted marshmallows around the campfire. As much as I love spending time with the people here, I also love bonding as a group of students in another country. While we’re learning a lot about Guatemala, we are also learning a lot about ourselves. In the words of one of my friends, “it makes me think about who we are and what we stand for.”

Recent Posts
Showing 2 comments
  • Allison

    This sounds really interesting and fun! I wish I could try those tortillas…yum! I hope you guys are having a great time!

  • Abby

    Could we make tortillas like the ones you made in California?

Leave a Comment