Thursday, May 16, 2013

All for the Love of Chicharron

This is Chicharron, a very amazing food served here in Cochabamba. When Tia Techy asked for the day off on Wednesday, so that she could prepare this famous Cochabamban food, we were quick to say yes, and quick to plan a way to get some! Tia and her husband have raised two pigs that they had planned to sell when they were big. Since the prices on pigs is way down right now, they decided to "Chicharron" one of them and make a better profit! The little town of Illataco (It kinda sounds like Eat ya Taco!) was having their annual planting celebration. I didn't quite understand what it was all about. I know it had to do with parades, partying, planting, and "sowing" good luck for next year! There is a real mix of pagan and Catholic ritual here. It can be sad at times to see how entrapped people are to their idols. It made me think of the scripture in Psalms 115:4-5 "Their idols are silver and gold, the work of mens hands. They have mouths but they speak not: eyes have they but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not..." In contrast verse 3 says "But our God is in the heavens, he doeth whatsoever he pleases." It is awesome to be serving a LIVING GOD!

Tia Techy and Carla
 This is the big pot of oil that they fry the WHOLE pig in. The oil is actually made up of the pig fat. They know how to use every last thing here in Bolivia! They cook it over a combination of charcoal (carbon) and wood. At the end they add potatoes and bananas. The  It is a lot of work and very hot. It takes about four hours to prepare Chicharron. This was the best we had ever had. It helps when you know the pig and the cook!!! I didn't do anything other than stir it a little. I am just trying to look like I did something!
Tia Techy's Father-in-law, Me, and Tia!
 Beyond us you can see the area where they had a "mini-carnival" set up complete with Ferris Wheel and rides for the kids. The children had a great time riding on things.
Ruth and Clancy... Enjoying the day!
They had these little peddled go-carts that the kids had a blast driving around!

Above Tia is serving the finished Chicharron and Javier, her hubby, is putting out the fire they used to cook it. We are standing around munching the amazing food and taking in the whole scene!

Myles with Abby and Ruth!

K. showing her "Bolivian side" eating Chicharron, as fast as she can. In her right hand is the pig skin...yummm!
The Gang's All Here!(Except Emily:(
 Emily wasn't able to go with us because she went to lunch with Jennifer and the other girl volunteers. We sure missed her helping hands holding the babies and such!! She was bummed to miss the event, but we took home a plate of Chicharron for her!
Occasionally, parades would come through the town with statues, flowers, bands, and colorful costumes. Tia said that later in the evening, after we had left, these folks did native dances. She also told me that their costumes are native to Oruro!
One of the many brass bands that played!

They also drove their tractors through town to go down to where the planting took place.
 After eating our fill we walked down to where all of the people and bands had assembled to start the tradition they have of randomly planting these fields with things. Corn, potatoes, peas, you name it they plant it. It is all about the ""tradition" not about what grows there!
The women above are getting ready to plant on the back of the tractor. Below is one of the oxen teams they also use for planting.
 We wanted a picture with the dancers and they were kind to oblige us. My camera had something on the lens so it is a little blurry. Leo took a nap in my arms the whole time we were down in the very noisy, band playing, field area! Ali took off and hid when the man in the bear suit came and laid down in front!
Javier had very kindly picked us up in his car and taken us to the event. We had to go around the main roads via dry riverbeds, etc, because we are in a season of  terrible blockading here in Bolivia. Javier had been blockading, but took a break to come get us! If he doesn't blockade he has to pay a fine. (Clancy would love to blockade and is always talking about how he would construct them!)
(I wanted to show you Javier's car that all 12 of us rode in. This is the only picture I had. I took it while they were pushing it back, to be able to push it forward, to get it started (Did that make sense?)! I guess he is having trouble with the battery, because we had to do this several times throughout the day to get it started)
Javier's Car having engine troubles!

 On the way home they had caught on to what was going on with people going around the blockades, and had sewn up tight even the riverbeds, and back roads with blockades. We had to walk the rest of the way home on the railroad tracks that go by our house. Thankfully, it was only a Km. or so. Our three three year olds were all sleepy and grumpy from having missed naps, and Leo and Abby were quite heavy to lug home, but we made it! It was on the walk home that I told Rudi I would title this post, "All for the Love of Chicharron". If you had had some you would know what I am talking about!!!

The perilous portion of the Journey Home!
Safely on the other side!
 The wind had come up and it actually sprinkled rain on us a bit! It really added to the adventure of it all!
 What a great day. We were tired, but glad we had gone! Thanks, Tia, for the best Chicharron EVER! And thank you, Lord, for watching over us through yet another exciting day in Bolivia!


  1. That looked like a really fun day! Now I want to try some chicharron because it looks really yummy.. I'm not so sure about the pig skin though :)

    A lady at the coffee shop asked me the other day, "So where's Rudi? I haven't seen him in awhile." I guess she hadn't heard that you guys are in Bolivia. Customers always ask about you guys so know that you are loved and missed!

  2. I love all the bright colors in this pictures, and I am proud of the dancers allowing you to photograph them. :) That is the most "dolled" up oxen I have ever seen.

    What a treat it must have been to eat Tia Techy's chicharron; I know how much you love it. :)

    Clancy and Ruth look as if they are having a blast! And if the blockaders knew Clancy existed, they would probably jump at the chance to enlist his help in designing real blockades! :D

    Yes, it is awesome that we serve the LIVING GOD!

    In the gang's all here photo (except Emily--and we miss her), I do not see A.
    Little Abby is looking more grown up since we left!

    Your train track trek looks like it was wearisome, but I still would have loved to have been with you! It reminds me of our walk to the library--fun memories!

    Much love,


  3. I miss Bolivian food! And I miss Bolivians! Glad you got to enjoy both! Love it when you update the blog!


  4. All so interesting and fun! I would like to try the chicharron. It must be a real treat to be so popular!

    One thing that really struck me about the photos is how much all the children are growing! Myles looks so grown-up and responsible, Clancy has lost his "little boy" face, and Clara is getting so tall! Ruth and Paula are changing so much--it makes me want to see you all more than ever! Don't grow up too fast, kids!! Life happens so quickly!

    All my love and prayers,

    Mother/Grandma B

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