On a daily basis we get to hang and with all kinds of interesting Guatemalans. We thought it would be kind of interesting to introduce some of the people we spend time with. Kind of a "who are the people in your neighborhood" series.
"Grandma" as we affectionately call her, or "Abuela" as all the locals call her, is our next door neighbor. Maria Prado seems to take on the role as the town grandma. She lives in the lot next door and we share a backyard, a well, at times the same path to a latrine, and many fruit trees. Generally if she wants to get bananas out of the tree, she has Corby chop down the entire tree. That's just the way they do it. She's always great about bringing us bananas, oranges and lemons when she has extras.
Most of her day is spent making tortillas that she sells around town. She makes several trips to the molina (corn grinder) starting at 4 am to get a head start on the crowd. Her house is the primary stop for all of the out of town workers that stop in Salacuim to do business. She'll serve them beans, eggs and tortillas at a good price.
One time I asked her how many grandchildren she has and she looked at me sweetly and replied, "bastante". In other words, "enough or lots". She started to count and name them all and got distracted. We made it to about 22 grandkids before we started talking about something else. She recalls that she had 13 children in total, but 6 of them have died. It's hard to ask her about the past and what she recalls because the past is often an undiscussed subject in Guatemala due to the turmoil. We know bits and pieces of the story of her husband being shot near our front yard nearly 25 years ago during the war. But she survived the war and survived Salacuim being burnt to the ground. She still talks about being alone and lonely, although there is rarely a moment in the day when her yard isn't filled with the neighborhood children that seem to adore her.
Although Salacuim is a very safe place to live, she guards our house when we're out of town. I wouldn't mess with her either because at over 70 yrs old, Abuela can still swing a machete with the best of them.