Tuesday, December 29, 2009

hanging out on the farm

The best part of being here is just having time to hang out with family and relax. We were really grateful that Naty's brother Ovidio and his family could also be with us for a week at the farm. We don't often get to spend time with them and it was fun to be able to be together.

Marcus got a magic kit for Christmas and he and Ovidio had fun learning tricks and presenting them to all of us.

Here is the audience, ready for the show.

"Abra ka dabra, patas de cabra!"

We took a walk down to the laguna to look for the caiman and we found him.

Here is the view up the valley from the house.

I'm giving some friends a tour via Skype.

The town of Bocono is in the background.

Here is the table and hammock where we like to hang out and read and do homework.

Gaby and Veronica are working on some projects. Gaby got a make-your-own fairy tale book for Christmas and Veronica got a voice activated password diary so they were both writing on the day after Christmas.

Having fun with Mamaoca, Gaby and Marcus' 98 year old great-grandma.

Playing with Edgar and Edwin, two neighbor boys.

Marcus is practicing being a photographer with Adriana and Luisana, his cousins.

el 24 (Christmas Eve)

The night before Christmas is when Latin America celebrates the arrival of baby Jesus, not Christmas morning. This year Gaby and Marcus were actually awake for all of the festivities, last time we were here in Venezuela they both fell asleep!

The night started off with some good cooking. Here is the traditional "Pan de Jamon" or ham bread that we cut up and enjoyed during the night. We actually didn't do a bid meal at midnight like normal because Ovidio made steaks on the grill Brazilian style in the afternoon and we were still full.

Another treat we had was "torta negra" which is a dark cake filled with fruits and nuts.

I took some time to do a blog post and organize some pictures while the cooking was happening.

We had another concert directed by "Pelo Peludo"

At midnight Osiris got out her "Cuatro" and we sang Happy Birthday to Baby Jesus and also to Gaby since the cake also doubled as her birthday cake. The cake we made for her birthday got burnt so bad we couldn't eat it, so she had to share a cake with Jesus.

After the cake we went outside to set off fireworks.
Then we went back inside to open presents.

After all the fun then we went off to bed at about 3:00 AM!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Enjoying Venezuela

As you saw before, Naty and the kids went to a concert directed by Gustavo Dudamel that would have looked something like this:

Marcus Loved the concert and decided to pretend he was Gustavo Dudamel. Gaby, Marcus and Veronica gave us a concert the first night I got to Venezuela.

Here is the new Gustavo, or as Marcus calls him "Pelo Peludo" or "Hairy Hair" if you translate it to English.

On our way from Barquisimeto to Bocono we stopped by Venezuela's national cathedral known as el Santuario Nacional Nuestra Senora de Coromoto. It was built in the '90s and inaugurated by Pope John Paul II in February 1996.

It was a truly amazing structure that is 76 meters high.

The first few days in Bocono were quite rainy. Here Valdomero, a local campesino, brought us some yummy avocados that we enjoyed.

Gaby and Marcus have been diligently working on their homework since they got here. They are also helping their cousin Veronica learn some English with their lessons.

On Monday night we stared the process of making "hallacas" a typical holiday food in Venezuela. They are similar to Mexican tamales but made inside of banana leaves instead of corn leaves.

The next day we kept the process going by filling the hallacas and wrapping them and finally cooking them in a huge pot over an open fire.

Mamama and Veronica made sure we were following the recipe.

Farmer Marcus took me on a tour to show me all of the sheep and goats in Papapa and Mamama's goat milking operation.

This little sheep got stuck in some hot asphalt and almost died. He's slowly getting back to normal now.

Wednesday the 23rd we took a trip to Chejende to pick up Naty's grandma Mamaoca. Marcus didn't feel that great and slept most of the way.

We wound our way through the Andes Mountains enjoying all of the spectacular views.

Marcus loved all of the mountains. He said they are WAY bigger than any mountains in Ohio!
We stopped in Santa Ana, the town where Bolivar and Murillo signed accords ending the war for Venezuela's independence in 1820.

When we got to Chejende, the kids enjoyed some ice cream from the back of this jeep.

Naty's 98 year old grandma, Mamaoca, making sure she has everything ready for the trip.
Here are three beautiful cousins by some orchids growing in their backyard.

And here are all the cousins posing for a picture.

Elena (Naty's cousin) and Ovidio (Naty's brother) were helping make the sancocho de gallina over an open fire. It was amazingly delicious!

Marcus felt much better after the soup and loved riding around on horsey daddy.

Gaby loved playing with the little twins.