July 4, 2014 @ 11:03 p.m.
On a day when most Americans are celebrating Independence Day, the highlight of my day meant engaging in a universal pastime. Oh yes, eating.
Today was all about food and love.
In the morning, while Kevin, his girlfriend Andrea and the rest of the family ate cookies and sipped coffee, I made an omelet and Glenda, Kevin’s cousin, helped add a homemade tortilla to the meal.
For lunch, we watched Germany tap dance on France and ate tostadas, platanos, and a wonderful onion salsa, among other things at the mall in San Miguel. Hungry for wifi, we spent the first 20 minutes of lunch trying to call home and send a few texts and emails.
We went to the large market and I bought beautiful aguacate, cilantro, lychees, jalapeños and broccoli.
And in between a visit to Kevin’s cousin’s house, we managed to see a process his uncle — a priest in La Union, which is east of where we are now — created for burning trash in a way that does not release toxins into the atmosphere.
While Kevin and Andrea made their way to his cousin’s house and caught the last part of the Brazil-Columbia game, Kevin’s cousin Nain took me to the supermercado to buy food I needed to cook with: soy milk, olive oil, whole grain pancake mix, spinach.
They keep on offering me leche and queso here and I have politely said no. Today, I explained that if I drink milk, the bathroom would become my home. Glenda laughed and nodded, OK.
When we arrived home, Kevin and Nain went to soccer practice and I began cooking my meal: platanos, huevos con cebollas, tomates, ajo, broccoli, and pescado that Glenda cooked earlier that day. Put the food away for a post-run meal.
At this point it was growing dark. Because it is winter here, also known as the rain season, the sun leaves the day quicker than in other seasons. I was on my way out for a run and abuela Aminta stopped me.
In my memory, my grandmothers were the first grandparents I remember, and if there’s anything I’ve learned in my 30-plus years of living, it is this: Do not mess with grandma.
She is one of the few people I am taller than, but she raised herself to all 5’1” of me and said with all of the seriousness of El Amate’s problems with ladrones behind her.
“Where are you going?”
“For a run,” I say sweetly.
I didn’t catch all of the things she was saying to me, but what I did get was the following: “A run? It’s very dangerous. There are thieves down there.”
Times are pretty peaceful in El Amate now, but years ago, thieves ran the bottom of the hill the small village overlooks. At Thieves Curve, unsuspecting folks found themselves short of change, food, clothes, whatever the thieves wanted, they got.
Now, it’s a rather benign looking place. Grass, several piles of cow dung, a few trees and the occasional weed mark the spot.
Kevin said that years before his grandfather passed at the age of 94, the thieves took 20 pesos — the equivalent of 20 dollars — from him while he was walking by Thieves Curve.
I thought about t a response that would allow me to run down that hill, but also respect abuela, a woman who raised 11 children and several of her grandchildren, including Kevin, who left to go to the United States at 12. She is my mother here and wants to be sure I return in one piece.
I like the feeling of being alive, so I get it.
I said, “God is with me always.”
“I will be good and God will help me to be so.”
I walked away and she sent her granddaughter Glenda, who has asthma, after me. Glenda and I commiserated. I promised that I’d only run near the soccer field, if she would walk.
I kept my promise. Glenda kept hers.
We both live to eat another day.