This Wednesday, Kelly and I helped Noris, our cook, make breakfast for dinner. We helped her make a typical Panamanian breakfast that consists of fried eggs and hojaldres. Hojaldres are a cross between a donut and a funnel cake. It’s dough fried to perfection in the shape of an oval. Topped with sugar or American cheese, it’s as Noris puts it: ‘muy muy muy rico’. Now Kelly, my fellow anthropology intern, and I have developed a special love, nearing towards an obsession, for hojaldres. So when the house gets them for dinner we revert back to little schoolgirls and dance around with excitement. Kelly helped Noris with the dough earlier in the day, which is an ordeal all in itself because you have to have some serious muscles to mix it properly.
Now cooking hojaldres with Noris is not just frying the dough in a pan, it’s an experience, especially when you add Kelly and I. Noris is quite the character, she’s always joking and talking with us while cooking two meals a day for all the interns here in the house. Even though she speaks very little English, mostly just little words around the house. I can understand about half to 80% of her Spanish, and Kelly has been valiantly learning Spanish since her arrival in San Miguel, but its still a challenge. But that doesn’t mean that conversation and laughs are few and far between, we are constantly chatting and bursting into fits of laughter. I’m able to communicate pretty well with her, and I attempt to translate what Kelly says, which most of the time works out only so-so, but no matter, Noris waits until I stumble through it and she comes to understand. Our choice of conversation varies from Noris’s family, the former dictator of Panama, how all the hojaldres we make are ‘ecaly-guacaly’, and whether or not will we be coming back to Panama after our internship ends. During this we also danced to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, made hand hearts with Noris, and had Noris hide from the camera. We made plans with Noris to come cook for her and her family next Friday. As of now we are making arroz con pollo and brownies. It’s shaping up to be quite the exciting night, especially if this night cooking was any indication of what’s in store.