Mary and I first came to Ecuador in June 2009 for a couple of weeks to see if the country could live up to the hype that we had been reading on the internet. We toured the mountains and the coast before falling in love with the small fishing village of San Clemente where we have since settled. We were only in San Clemente for three days staying at the Palmazul Hotel from which we toured each day to Bahia on the north and south of Manta looking at real estate properties. But on two of the mornings we were in San Clemente Mary and I went down to the beach early in the mornings and I was able to help the fishermen pull in their long nets.
I think the fishermen all thought that I was a bit crazy as I loudly sang songs of sailors (in English) and laughed as we sloshed about in the water. One of the fishermen, who seemed to be in charge of the line I was working on, was especially friendly and insisted that I take some fish back to the hotel as a gift for helping the men work.
A day or two after we moved here in December of 2011 (two and a half years later) we were walking down the road when the man standing next to me in the above picture came up to me and introduced himself as Ramon. He remembered me from the mornings we fished together. Since that time we have become good friends with Ramon and his family.
Ramon has a wife named Nuri and three beautiful daughters named Malena, Daniela, and Sol. But the Garcia family to which Ramon belongs consists of (I believe) fourteen children. That huge family is one of the two large Garcia families here in San Clemente. The other branch of Garcias is headed up by Pocho and Pinoche, our friends from downtown. Suffice to say that it is good to be friends with the Garcias of San Clemente who make up about half of the town’s population.
We have been especially blessed by our kinship with Ramon and his family of women! We have been invited to eat with them, go in search of pulpo in the tide pools with them, Ramon has brought by gifts of langostinos and raw chocolate, and Ramon (who owns a crew cab pickup truck) has transported us to many events over the years. All of the girls are especially friendly and always run out of a crowd to say hello and give us a big hug.
About six weeks ago, when we were all busily celebrating Christmas season, Ramon saw us at one of the functions downtown and said that Daniela (who goes by the name of, “Luna”) was going to have her first confirmation in a few weeks and she had asked that Mary and I accompany her at that ceremony.
First I need to make a couple of admissions – My knowledge of Spanish is still only fair (at best) and my understanding of Catholic rites and ceremonies is even more deficient. Also, Ramon was talking quite quickly and we were at a noisy outdoor function. That being said, I really only caught about fifty percent of what Ramon said. I did hear that Luna had specifically requested that we come, but I had never heard of a first confirmation. I had heard of a “first communion” though, so I mistakenly reported to Mary that we were invited to Luna’s first communion sometime in February.
As the day approached we learned that the actual event was planned for Sunday, February 1st at the large church in Charapoto. Mary already suspected that I had the message wrong as Luna was older than the age that most youth have first communion in the United States – and she was right. Apparently the ceremony was actually for first confirmation. Early Sunday morning Ramon, Nuri, and Luna arrived to drive us to Charapoto.
Luna looked absolutely beautiful in her special white dress.
We got a couple of pictures of Luna at the church before the service began.
Here is one of Luna with her mother in the row before the service.
As the service began, Ramon and Nuri switched seats with us so that Mary and I were seated next to Luna on the aisle. It was not until well into the service that we learned that Mary and I were actually participating in the role of, “compadres” and we were supposed to usher Luna up the aisle and present her to the Priest. We each stood on either side of Luna and walked with her up to the front of the church where the Priest anointed her and blessed her in her first confirmation. We were like proud parents – honored to be a part of the ceremony.
Nuri took several pictures of us in the line and up in front of the Priest (which I would have inserted here) but she has been very busy since Sunday and we have not had a chance to transfer those pictures to our computer. We will explain more about that soon but it has to do with a new baby!
We stopped for a lunch of chicken soup (sopa de pollo) in Santa Teresa on the way home.
Ecuatorianos use all of the chicken in the soup. I got a wing, neck, and ribcage complete with heart, liver, and kidneys. Mary got a breast, a wing, and a chicken foot in her bowl.
We presented Daniela with a gift and a “first communion” card. She graciously accepted my apology for not having the appropriate card and really loved our gift. It was not until later (after I did some research on the internet) that we realized what a great honor and gift Luna had actually given us by asking us to be her compadres at the ceremony. It is considered a great honor in Ecuador to be asked to be a compadre or comadre.
We had a great time, but our day was just beginning! We all had to hurry home for a baby shower party planned for later that day and (of course) it was Super Bowl Sunday. We will report on the baby shower fiesta and explain what has been keeping the Garcia family (especially Malena) so busy these last two days in our next post.
Until then we will sign off as San Clemente’s newest gringo compadres from here where…
Life is good in Ecuador!