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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

¡Chicharon Pollo por Diez!

Sunday is a very special day for me every week.  Not just because it is family day, but because on that particular day, I get to go to market with my family and spend the whole day in town selling chicharon de pollo.  Chicharon de pollo, in my case, is chicken that has been cooked in vast industrial frying pans over the wood fire with oil and salt, and is sold with maíz (thick, starchy, corn), papas (potatoes), sometimes huevitos (chicken tripe and rooster testicles), and my specialty, yahwah.  Yahwah is a spicy sauce made of tomatoes and hot peppers and somewhat resembles a good homemade salsa back in the states.  My job is to spoon the yahwah into small plastic bags as needed, and hand them to my host mom, Paula, and my 11-year-old cousin, Daniela, who handle the chicken and the maíz y papas, respectively.  We arrive in the city around 9:30, and spend the whole morning and afternoon under our blue umbrella selling to people both in the stalls and on the streets.  Sometimes, Daniela and I will walk around market to stretch our legs, but for the most part, we sit, drink refrescos, and play hangman in between sales.

Last Sunday was special because it was the start of carnival, so the 3-year-old son of the people in the stall in front of ours got a hold of some espuma (foam in a can) and started spraying everyone within spitting distance.  At first, it was only his family, but then he started spraying us too, and we engaged in a short battle for the security of our food.  His mother was not happy about the espuma getting on the chirimollas (type of fruit), but she was even less happy to see it getting near our open containers of chicken.

After market, our family is usually too tired to cook anything, so we head to a small restaurant at the end of the street in Cayachulpa (the residential community next to us) and order a family dinner.  They only have one plate, which is fried chicken with papas and arroz, and condiments, so they only need to know how many plates they need and what condiments to bring.  We sit and have a nice family dinner together, chatting about sales and upcoming events, and relax after a long day.  My first Sunday, when we went to the restaurant, we met up with Hannah´s host family, and sat down to a joint dinner.  As soon as they were inside however, the sky opened and the power went out.  My three little host siblings, Maxi, Nedil, and Micaela, who are all between the ages of 3 and 6, were scared by the thunder and the wind, and all clung to José and Paula (my host parents) for dear life.  They had to take them home early because they were so scared.  The rest of us enjoyed eating by flashlight and talked about thunderstorms.

Sundays are probably my favorite day of the week because of this.  I feel a lot closer to my family on market day, and I really like being part of my family’s business. It makes me feel a lot less like a guest and a lot more like a member of the family.