The woman at the first house we went to invited us in to chat. We had enough time to visit for a little while. She had a small loom-type thing up in her living room, and she showed us some of the things she has made on it. They were pretty cool. Then she offered us mate (pronounced MAH-tay). I should stop here and explain this, because it’s a common tradition to down there to offer it to guests or to share it after the evening meal while you chat. I have had it in Santiago, so I knew what I was trying, but it’s much more common down south I noticed. Mate is best compared to tea, but it’s not at all tea. You take a cup/mug (or if you have one, a special mate cup) and fill it with an herb. I have no idea what it is (it’s not a narcotic, for those of you whose minds went the same direction my mother’s did) but it looks like cilantro, twigs, and grass cut up into very tiny pieces. It’s not what it is, but that’s what it looks like. You fill the cup with this stuff, almost to the top after putting in the special mate straw (it’s a metal straw, and the bottom is closed and smashed flatter so it’s in an oval shape. The oval has tiny holes in it that lets the water through but not the herbs). Then you put a scoop of sugar on top and then pour hot water on until the cup really is full. Then you serve it to the first guest. As the water seeps down, it takes on the flavor of the sugar and herbs. At first it’s kind of strong and a little bitter, but the more the herbs are used, the sweeter it gets from all the sugar. Once you’ve finished, you hand it back to the host who repeats the sugar/hot water process and hands it to the next guest in the circle. If you’re lucky, the host has wiped the straw off with a dish towel, but this doesn’t always happen. The process is repeated, going around the circle until everyone says they’ve had enough. It’s quite interesting, and not be tried by a germaphobe. :o)
So after walking a lot and inviting many people, we headed back to where we started to have lunch. We were on our way back when we were accosted by a small herd of goats. After playing with them a little, we all headed home to eat and then back to the church to set up for the afternoon activities. It was very laid back, and we had some time to relax and recoup. At this time Victor left with his truck to help transport another team to their second village much farther away. We had no idea when he’d be back, but was hoping it would be in time to take us home that evening.
We had our time with the kids, as usual, and then showed the Jesus movie. At this point I’m starting to have some parts memorized—in Spanish! After cleaning up we had an once at the pastor’s house and we had a discussion about the differences between English and Spanish. At one point, one guy said that I don’t sound much like a gringa! And when he looked to the others for agreement, one girl said that I didn’t have much of an accent! Yay! That was the best compliment I could’ve gotten. Then I told them that I could speak with a gringo accent, if I wanted to. So I had to demonstrate it, and they all thought that was hysterical. After awhile we decided it was time to head back home, even though Victor hadn’t gotten back yet. So at 9:30 we headed off. We walked down the middle of the dirt road since not many cars drove by. We walked by the light of the insanely bright moon that I told you about. Three of the girls walked up front, singing and talking very loudly. I walked behind with Lissette and Pato, the two people who spoke English the best (besides the Cote, who is fluent). The whole time we walked we asked each other questions about the other language, and I learned a LOT. I was definitely starting to feel like I understood more. Although still nowhere close to everything!
After almost 2 hours of walking, we made it home. I was exhausted! In fact, I was so tired, that as I was getting ready for bed, I said something to myself in English. When one of the girls nearby said “What?” I repeated myself…in English! Haha. Needless to say, I slept very well that night.