Today is the first day staying with my host family of 3 months for training. I spent all afternoon with Doña Esperanza, her daughter Miriam and daughter-in-law Sophia making tamales and another type of food that has salsa and a small bit of meat inside a cooked tortilla called a chuchito. Then I ate them. Two tomales and one chuchito. The tamales were so good.

To make a tamale first we put two large leaves, probably 30cm and up in length, on a plate with the stems facing opposite directions. Then we scooped a spoonful of corn-mush and a spoonful of salsa onto the top leaf and mixed them together. Then we put a bit of meat in the middle - we did chicken and duck. Fold over the sides of the leaf, and then fold the tip of the leaf over. Stand the tamale up on that end to pack all the good stuff together then fold over the stem part of the leaf, neat like a present. To create a tight seal for cooking, do the same with the second leaf over the first one. Finally, wrap the whole thing with a small piece of reed the size of a piece of ribbon, again tie it like a present, and bake them all together in a pot over a wood fire for 1-1½ hours. ¡Que deliciosas!

In other news, I did not shower today, nor will I for the next three months. No, it’s bucket baths from here on out for me. Actually, I did not take a bucket bath today either. Whoops. The host family that I stayed with for the first three nights in Santa Lucia Milpas Altas had a device in their shower that would heat the water you are about to shower with in a small electrical device affixed to the shower head. Now, normally electricity and water don’t mix (or don’t mix well), but I’ve heard they are pretty safe. I did take two showers there and am happy to say that I have not gotten electrocuted yet. This does not go for another in my training group. Apparently he was not the one to turn the heating device on so didn’t know how to turn it off, reached around the top of the device, and accidentally found a few wires sticking out. He said he got blasted out of the shower. I’m so glad I have others to learn from!

Today I was also asked “eres Catolico, o Christian?” Basically they wanted to know if I was Catholic or Christian. Like anything else was not an option. I said, while trying not to lie flat-out, that I was a mixture. Doña Esperanza agreed, “solo es uno” she said as she looked and pointed at the sky, “solo es uno”. I (tried to, in my broken Spanish) explain that the most important part of church to me was the singing and the community and knowing everybody and making friends. That wasn’t exactly a lie…only the church part. But that’s what I had to do. That’s what we were instructed to do. Lie if they ask us what religion we are. All that really matters to them is that we believe in God. According to our training leader Craig, not believing in God is “an actual physical embodiment of the Devil". Cool. Yo soy Diablo!!! I’m sure they’ll ask me to go to church with them which is fine with me. I’m not scared of religion anymore like I used to be, and as long as I don’t have to sit still for hours, it will probably be pretty cool to go to Mass en español. Maybe they’ll give me a bible to read in Spanish. Actually it would probably be really good for me to read some parables that I’m already familiar with in Spanish, it could only help my language learning.

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