Friday, September 20, 2013 - Preparations for Yupanqui's BaptismToday we continued with preparations for the party. In the front yard between the main house and the road, there is a garden where a bunch of felled eucalyptus trees forms a natural fence. We needed to untangle the boughs and then Craig needed to chop them with an axe or a machete so that they were suitable for firewood. The pig was tied to a stake in this garden. At one point, she went over to the "fence," chomped down on one of the trees, and dragged it out. We joked that she was a logging pig and that it was ironic that she was helping to collect the wood that she would eventually be cooked over.
A couple of young men arrived in a truck and assembled a tent over the patio in case of rain. The climate had been very dry for the season, but Antonio didn't want to take chances. The tent had two layers and was waterproof.
Later in the morning, a village man arrived to dispatch with the pig. At Sisa's baptism, this had been taken care of off-premises. But today it was going to happen here. We wanted to witness the process. Although it is not pleasant to watch, we felt that as meat-eaters who would eventually partake of the pork, we needed to be realistic about the way that the pig was processed.
The pig was laying down and the man pulled on it by its tail which made it stand up. The man tied each of the pigs' legs. It made blood-curdling screeches. Once the pig was tied, Rosa and her sister toppled it over onto its side and held it down. The man stabbed the pig in the aorta / heart and it bled out. Yupanqui watched the whole process quietly. Shina Tayanta, on Aida's back, started to cry.
They placed two wood planks on cinder blocks and put the pig's body on top of them. They placed a large rock in the pig's mouth. They plugged up the hole in the aorta with a corn cob. Next, the guy used a propane powered blow torch to burn the hair off of the pig. It was a long process, and the smell of burnt hair hung in the air. Next, the women took knives and scraped the burnt hair off of the skin. After turning the pig over to get at every angle, they laid the pig on its back and used a hammer and knife to split open its chest. Sisa arrived home from school during this process. They used a hose to run water through its internals. They accidentally punctured an organ,so they needed to clean it up quickly. They removed the internal organs and put them into a plastic tub. Women at the back water spigot processed these organs.
Craig and a local young man named Henry hung up streamers and ribbons from the tent. The wind made it challenging. They needed to actually sew them to the tent liner, which is not Craig's forte. Women were peeling potatoes over by the fire shed. More and more people arrived to help out. Rosita and her daughters Natalie and Eileen were there. Eileen was just an infant the last time we saw her. The kids all had fun playing together and posing for photos.
The pig's carcass emerged from the front yard laying on its stomach on a big iron skillet, balanced on top of a wheelbarrow. They parked the wheelbarrow over near the house to await further preparations. Tayanta was crawling around the patio. Every time she went near the wheelbarrow, I instinctively ran over to make sure she didn't somehow tip it onto herself. This pig weighed several hundred pounds and it was perched rather precariously on the wheelbarrow.
Craig and I were sitting on the patio playing with the little kitten. Sisa came over and picked up the kitten. The kitten ran away and stopped under the safety of the wheelbarrow. Sisa went to retrieve the kitten and while she was standing up, she steadied herself using the wheelbarrow.
It happened in slow motion. The wheelbarrow tipped, and the pig flew through the air, crashing down on the cement patio and splattering blood in a 10-foot radius. Everything stopped as everyone assessed the situation. It was so lucky that the pig didn't fall on a child; it could probably have killed them. The kitten also escaped harm. Nervous laughter erupted once everyone realized nobody was hurt. Craig helped the women to heft up the pig and put it back on its perch. This time they leaned the wheelbarrow against the house. Henry got buckets of water to wash a huge puddle of blood off of the patio.
Later Delia and Rosa brought out knives and they stabbed the pig repeatedly. They then took a green vegetable mixture which looked like pesto sauce and slathered it over the pig's skin and stuffed it in the knife holes. They needed even more fire wood than we had cut from the eucalyptus pile out front. Craig used the wheelbarrow to shuttle wood from the back wood shed to the fire shed. Then he took a couple of wheelbarrows-full to a neighbor's house. Craig gave Yupanqui a ride home in the wheelbarrow.
We picked tree tomato fruit and lemons from the trees on their property. It was always nice to consume produce that they grew themselves in their gardens.
Neighbors and friends congregated in the outdoor kitchen, eating mote (hominy) and potatoes and drinking chicha. Everyone who was helping with preparations was fed this hearty meal. The atmosphere was quite festive and reinforced just how much people in this community help one another on a daily basis.
Antonio told us that he had taken two American tourists on a hike around Lago Cuicocha today. One of the women was very interested in Kichwa culture, so he had invited her to the baptism and party. He said that she would be arriving at around 2 o'clock the next afternoon.
Craig started to feel a little bit dizzy, and they insisted that he sit down. Antonio immediately suggested that he stop drinking chicha, in case it was affecting him somehow. We immediately discounted the idea that it could be from the small amount of chicha that he had drunken. Not only was the alcohol content low, the water was boiled, and he had only ingested a little bit.
We decided that we should go to bed on the early side, as tomorrow would be a long day of partying. While I wrote in my journal, Craig settled into bed to read a bit from Tuesdays with Morrie, but found that he couldn't focus, literally. He just kept reading the same line over and over again. He eventually gave up and decided that he just needed to go straight to sleep. And he fell asleep immediately. Given the altitude here, it is not uncommon for either of us to feel a little out of sorts at times. Rest ususally helps. We hoped that he would be feeling better so that he could fully enjoy the baptism and party. Our friends Felipe and Maria Jose would be arriving tomorrow to attend the baptism, which was an extra special treat.
Antonio wrangles the pig
Friends and relatives gather to help with food preparation
Achi Taita gives Yupanqui a ride