Los Cobayos de Ecuador

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We received a very interesting email from Mrs. Kim White, a Spanish teacher at Culver Academies in Indiana.  Mrs. White tells us the Spanish word for guinea pig is el cobayo.  Mrs. White must be a great teacher, not only because she loves guinea pigs so much, but also because she took a trip to South America to help with her Spanish!  She made a startling discovery in Ecuador while on her trip.  "Sra. Blanca" writes:

One day when I was with my tour guide, who was a friend of this one Otavalan Indian family, we stopped to visit the family at their thatch-covered home.   They had dirt floors and no glass in their windows!  They had strings of corn drying all along the top of the outside walls.  They also had a lot of beautiful woven blankets and other things that they wove there.  When we got to the kitchen, to my surprise, we were greeted by probably 30 or so guinea pigs.  They had full run of the kitchen and were kept in by a low wall that separated that room from the others.   You can imagine the wonderful noises generated by that many guinea pigs all in the same room.  They had a light bulb in one corner to help keep them warm.  I asked a young girl that looked about 7 or 8 if she would be willing to pose for a picture with one of the guinea pigs.  She willingly agreed and after a moment, found the guinea pig she had apparently been searching for among all the others.  She carried him outside into the sunshine for me to photograph.  She told me that that particular guinea pig was her special one.  When I asked her why he was so special, I did not expect the response she gave me.  She said, "Because we are going to eat him on my birthday."  Needless to say, I did not stick around for her birthday.  I think your guinea pig Hunny is probably very glad she lives with you instead of with that little girl in Ecuador!

A note from Hunny, our guinea pig:  "I am very thankful I (or any of my pig friends) don't live there!  And I thank the dear Lord that I am invited to my family's dinner table, but as a guest--not the main course!"  Mrs. White continues...

I think your readers would be interested to know that not all countries in the world think of guinea pigs in quite the same way.  The Incas considered them quite a delicacy and nowadays, they are only served in the finest of Ecuador's restaurants and in homes of the Inca's descendents.  And don't forget what an honor it was for that pig to be chosen for such a special occasion.

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