|banana leaves prepared for tamale wrapping|
It's a tradition in Belize to celebrate Christmas with tamales. Grinding the corn for the tamales, preparing the ingredients to put in the tamales, wrapping the tamales, steaming the tamales, then eating them and taking some to share with neighbors who might not have a large family with which to enjoy such festivities. We did all those things.
|Nacho and Nora prepare the masa|
As we were finishing, Doña Nora and Don Nacho returned from Benque in the truck with a five gallon bucket of the masa, corn flour made from corn they had just taken to town to be ground at the tortilla factory (a little tienda in Benque with a grinding mill).
|Kevin stirs the masa as it thickens|
When it was properly thickened, José was set to stirring the home-made tomato sauce over the fire while four of us -- Nora, my friend Millie who lives with the oldest Rivera son Oscar, Gaby and I -- set out piles of banana leaves, chicken and pork chunks, the masa dough, and the tomato sauce when it came off the fire.
|Jose cooks the tomato sauce|
Nacho had to teach me again how to wrap the banana leaves around the tamale so no sauce could escape and no water could enter when they would be later steamed.
|It's fun working together. That's me on the right.|
|Tamale making as spectator sport|
|Total immersion is a great way to learn Spanish|
That night, we feasted on the perfectly cooked tamales, and after dinner Nora, Millie and I carried a stack of them to Millie's father and stepmother, who live about half a mile down the road, then stayed to chat an hour or so until Nacho came to find us. We walked back to Riveras by the light of a half moon, accompanied by cricket chirps and a couple of refrains of Feliz Navidad.
|Wrapped tamales, ready to steam|
All in all, it was a lovely day. We ate tamales the next day, too, Christmas, but it seems that most Belizeans celebrate Christmas and New Years Eves, for the most part, and just eat and socialize on the actually holiday.
|Micasa, my little jungle house|
It's gradually becoming my second home, with a few little adventures along the way -- like this one which I journaled my last morning there:
And with that, I leave you with my fine memories of 2017 in the Belizean jungle, and with hopes for many more good ones in 2018 for us all. Happy New Year!