Weather: Freezing tonight!
A special mass was held for the upcoming holiday, Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Difuntos, tomorrow. Antonia, Ashley, and I accompanied my mom, aunt, and cousins to the church and played follow-the-leader for an hour or so. Catholic mass is generally a mimic game for Protestant Erika but in Spanish it is even more so.
After mass in the plaster-white church, we passed the street vendors selling fragrant meats, beggars asking for centavos, and packed ourselves into my cousin Diego's little car and zoomed to the cemetery. We stopped to get papas fritas and hot dogs cut up like octopi. We found my host mother's great grandmother's grave and placed on it yellow roses and a candle that refused to stay lit in the wind.
The entire cemetery sprawled over a hillside in the most magnificent sparkle of candlelight. By then it was filled with people. Families sat on their relatives' graves cleaning them off and battled the brisk breeze that never let up. My host family's plots were large cement graves protruding from the ground, but some of the bigger families had whole mausoleums dedicated to their name. Others had tiny niches ten feet off the ground which had to be accessed by ladders.
I was expecting something more climatic and exciting than the candle blowing out ten or so times, like the spirit of my great-great grandmother returning to eat the guaguas de pan and colada morada we didn't leave and didn't eat on the grave site as is tradition. The ways of old seem to be passing by the wayside.
The holiday is something totally foreign to us in the United States. We bury our dead and try our best to bury the hurt with them. Latin American culture remembers them every year, celebrates their life, and eats the most delicious food to remember them by. Guaguas de pan are literally "bread babies" made of sweet bread and filled with guava jelly, decorated with icing. They're about 5" long and in the shape of infants, supposedly to remember the children who have died. Colada morada (purple drink) is made of fruits stewed together to make a delicious hot or cold drink. They are both only made around the holiday and only in Ecuador.