Eating etiquette

Sunday morning we had been scheduled to visit the thermal waters in Potosí with Yoli’s Tio David and the rest of his family. However, this didn’t work out because they had problems with their car. Instead they invited us to lunch.

We got to see his house, which us undergoing some major construction as they add a second story. We also got to meet two of his children: Karina (with her husband) and Daniel. Daniel is studying linguistics and speaks some English, so we had interesting conversation with him.

But something gave me a feeling I was getting into something over my head.

Tio David played some music on DVD for us, which was very beautiful (and much more affordable than in the states, thanks to DVD copyists (or pirates as the RIAA would call them)). We then tested his dvd player to make sure it would play Region 1 discs, since we hope to get a disc for him that he can’t find in Bolivia.

Then it was lunch time. Yoli and I both knew there would be trouble when we saw the soup David’s wife Norah brought out. They were huge. And of course they tasted great. But by the time I finished my soup, I was full. I was desperately praying that soup was all that we would receive for lunch. But my mind knew better.

Out came the plates … two plates piled high with chuño (a sort of dehydrated potato that is quite tasty), picante de pollo (two pieces of spicy chicken), two potato halves, and tomatoes with onions.

I knew I was in trouble. I looked at Yoli desperately, but it was no use. I had to try to eat as much as I could. I didn’t want to offend Tia Norah. But that wasn’t the only trouble.

Apparently the family knew the folks who owned the bus company we were using for our trip to Sucre in the afternoon. So they offered to call the company and have the bus pick us up. This would let us spend more time with them, which was a good thing. But in the back of my head, I knew that this would mean we would have to bring our giant backpack inside the bus again. I was dreading a repeat of our bus trip from Uyuni to Potosí.

I began eating the food, but it was clear I wasn’t going to get very far. Yoli advised me quietly in English to try talking and wasting time so that when the bus arrived we could just get up and leave our plates. She followed this plan better than me since I didn’t know this family that well, and my Spanish isn’t that great. This wasn’t conducive to starting conversation. But Daniel wanted to practice English and asked me lots of questions. For that, I am eternally grateful.

When 1:00 time, I happily stood up from the table and hurried to put on the backpack. I still don’t understand how, but Yoli ate more than I did. Thankfully Yoli was also able to talk with Norah and explain that we normally don’t eat very much. During this trip, we have been frequently splitting lunch and dinner meals between the two of us, because they are so large.

It was time to say goodbye. We had a nice three days getting to visit this side of Yoli’s family. I’m glad we took the opportunity to meet them. They were very kind and generous to us.

When the bus pulled up, my fear was confirmed. They wouldn’t put the bag on the roof. But it turned out this wasn’t such a problem after all. The bus wasn’t nearly as crowded as the Uyuni trip, and the road was paved. Bonus!

We are now in Sucre. Our hotel room seems quite nice, with a good soft bed, cable, a working phone, etc. And the weather is great, much nicer than Potosí. This is the white city, the official capital of Bolivia. But in fact, most of the power is really in La Paz, the “other” capital, though Bolivians don’t call it a capital. They call it a “government seat.”

Chew on that one for a while. We’ll share more soon. 🙂

One Reply to “Eating etiquette”

  1. Josh,
    The reason Yoli ate more than you is because you are just skin and bones…not that she is more that herself, but it doesn’t surprtise me=)
    Sounds like a trip I could really get into. My favorite pasttime is eating.

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