That treat we should not have eaten

We are finishing our third week of Spanish lessons in Cusco. We have our routine down:

  • 5am wake up. Not necessarily because we want to but because the sun is already so strong
  • 6am hope that the hot water was turned on. It is only available from 6-10.
  • 6:15 curse that there is no hot water and deal with it (this occurs about 75% of the time)
  • 7 eat breakfast of two buns
  • 8-12 Spanish classes
  • 1 lunch
  • 2 wander around Cusco and usually go for coffee at one of our two usual places
  • Study
  • Convince Dani to meditate for 4 minutes (that is all I am able to convince her to do)

On November 2, we were at on of our usual coffee spots soaking up some internet and studying. We noticed a table set up that had some meringues and what looked to me to be Easter bread. On our way out, we decided to buy some meringues for our walk home thinking we were supporting the local school or something.

The next day at school, my practical Spanish teacher suggested an outing, the cemetery. I wholeheartedly agreed. I really enjoy going to cemeteries because I think it really gives a personal look into the history and culture of a place.

We arrive at the cemetery and it is unlike any I have ever seen. It is large cement walls with windows for each of the deceased. Each person has a little window that different things that represent that person (photos, trinkets, toys and….food)

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¿Por qué hay comida?(why is there food?) I ask my teacher. If my vocabulary was better I would have asked more specifically why are there meringues and Easter bread.

She explains to me on Hallowe’en they celebrate but more importantly on November 1 there is a celebration of All Saints Day where the family shares a suckling pig (we had already participated in this). On November 2, the families go to honor the dead by going to the cemetery. There is music, dancing, beer and wine. They decorate the graves with things that remind them of their loved ones. It is traditional to bring this special bread and meringues.

We conclude our lesson at the school. Dani asks “So how was your visit to the cemetery?”

I reply “You know those meringues we ate, well, they were meant for dead people”

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