Sister Vergara is kind and usually gives us a ride home from the temple on the days she serves with us. One evening just to chat, we asked if they eat turkey for the holidays and she said "no." She said they eat "pozole" and we didn't know what that was. The next time she gave us a ride home, she invited us and the Days to come to their home for New Years Eve for dinner and she would pick us up at 7:00 p.m. She said she was having dinner early for us since she figured as missionaries we didn't want to be out late.
The Vergara Family now live not too far from our home. They used to live in our ward but when her mother passed away two or three months ago, her entire family moved into the family home to be with her aging father to take care of him. Sister Vergara and her husband have three children that we know of. They have Eduardo who is recently returned from his mission in Guadalajara where he had served with Dave and Debbie; a son currently serving a mission in Costa Rica and a son who was recently married. We entered their home going down some old cement stairs and they told us to be careful. What we first noticed entering their home was the very large and beautiful pine Christmas tree on the right. It was gaily decorated with ribbons, lights, ornaments and was at least 7 feet tall and about 4 feet across at the bottom. The fascinating things about this real tree is that they brought it to the house mid-November and it has never had to be watered. The needles still feel pliable and they said it would be mid-January when they take it down—a pine tree seemingly fresh all because of humidity.
We were warmly welcomed and introduced to her father who was watching Shrek Forever in Spanish on their wall mounted large flat screen TV not far from the Christmas tree. The room also had a couch and a rather large dining table—say for 8 people and a China hutch. Eduardo came to visit with us since his father had just gotten home from work and was taking a quick shower. Sister Vergara, Bernicia, was preparing food in her very small kitchen and we asked if we could help but she said she was fine. With the TV in the background and smells from the kitchen wafting to us and our visiting with the family, it felt homey. Their other son and his wife were also in the house but were waiting for her parents to arrive before they ate.
Bowls of pozole were set on the table and Eduardo offered the blessing. Also on the table was shredded lettuce, sliced radishes, stiff flat tortillas and hot salsa. There were 8 of us around the table and the other son and his wife stood in the kitchen behind a waist-high wall that separated the two rooms and visited with us . Pozole is a soup with hominy and pork and onions plus two kinds of peppers and it tastes good. The idea is to put lettuce and radishes on top al gusto. They assured us that it wasn't picante but if we wanted hot sauce, they had it. Dinner also included two kinds of tamales of chicken or of cheese. She brought out green salsa to go with the tamales. We thought our dinner tasted really good and we were finishing when three others arrived. We recognized them from our ward and as it turns out, they are the parents and brother of the girl who married the Vergara's son. This couple arrived plus their son who is the first Mexican missionary ever called on a mission to Rome, Italy and he will leave in March.
We had a varied conversation and it was all in Spanish. It became apparent to us at some point that the newly arrived family couldn't sit to eat unless we left the table so the Days, Paul and I moved to the nearby couch. Everything was actually “nearby” since we figure their living room was about 10 feet wide and about 18 feet long. We shifted to the couch and the other guests plus the newlyweds were served their pozole and tamales at the table. Brother Vergara then sat in a chair close to us as we visited. We had brought our banana slush to share as our family’s New Year's Eve traditional drink and they eyed it skeptically. Paul put the slush in cups and Sister Vergara added our Squirt and Sherryl put the plastic spoons in it and Eduardo passed it around to group #1. We told them that it was just lemon, orange, and pineapple juice with bananas and they were brave enough to try it. The late arriving sister whose name we will one day learn, was hesitant and said there was too much sugar for her. When she understood the lack of sugar she tried it but after a taste, sprinkled her drink with a healthy dose of tajin which is a mix of chilies, salt and dried lemon we can buy at the store and they season their food with it. The tajin was passed around and seemed to improve the taste for those new to our family traditional drink. The Days and us just sat and watched in awe. After our family drink, they passed around white cake with whipped cream on top. There were 12 of us in all. We didn't all understand everything that was being said but we thought they were most kind to invite us to their home. We could hear the fireworks blasting outside as Brother Vergara drove us to our home about 10:30 p.m.
We usually don't make a point of staying awake to greet the New Year but we made an exception for this year because we are in Mexico. We stood by our front door and recorded the sounds of the fireworks exploding. There's nothing to see in this video but there is much to hear! Happy New Year from Mexico!