So, I decided to spend Christmas in my site rather than in the city, which you probably already knew. On the 23rd I made about four dozen sugar cookies as a gift for the family because they had mentioned that they would like to do something that was a Christmas tradition in the states. I found some good tips for baking at this altitude; adding more liquid, using more shortening, cooking at a lower temperature, and using less baking powder. They turned out surprisingly well and were my first Altiplano baking success. My host brother, Javier, and I decorated the living room with some things the previous volunteer left behind.
Christmas Eve started out the same as any other day- with laundry and cooking. My host dad (Braulio), Javier, and I went to the city to get a few final things for the celebration. When we returned, there were a bunch of aunts, uncles, and cousins at the house.
Then it was time to slaughter the sheep and prepare it for cooking. Javier really wanted me to watch, but I refrained. I did, however, see much of the cleaning of the sheep, etc. It was pregnant, surprise! (I have many videos with the sheep in the background if you are interested.) I was amazed at how they really use every part of the sheep. I explained that, as far as I know, adult sheep are only used for wool, and my family couldn’t believe it. “What do they do with the meat when the sheep is too old?” they asked. I still don’t know. I tried to explain that in the States, most of us are really distanced from our meat products, so many people don’t really know where their meat comes from, what parts of the animal it is, how animals are killed, etc. Well, anyway, the women spent practically all day preparing this sheep and we had sheep and rice for Christmas dinner. The traditional Christmas dish is turkey, but turkey costs 33 B’s a kilo and an entire sheep costs 200 B’s. I saw my host grandmother cleaning the sheep’s head, so I thought they were going to serve the traditional Oruro dish (I forget the name) of boiled sheep’s head, but they didn’t. It was just a pot of various meat cuts and ribs.
PS. I almost forgot! Sad news...I'm not going to be able to dance tinku afterall. I've been coming in for practices but no one was there! There's still all of January for practice, but I'm going to be in Cochabamba for two weeks for in-service training. And Carneval is the first week of February (very early) this year. So sad!