(Greg says he didn't meet his wife this way) Just a little cultural insight for the day...
In a tiny village, in the mountains near Taxisco, Santa Rosa, near the Pacific Coast of Guatemala we have a friend from Canada staying with our missionary friends Al and Gail Anderson who live a very rustic lifestyle. Jennifer is a pretty, 25 year-old blonde who is teaching English at the local school.
On your visit to this little village where people still keep animals inside their adobe houses, you will see nothing seems to have changed in hundreds of years.
That seems to include the local dating game.
Lots of local young men (jovens) notice Jennifer, but one young man was extremely persistent in asking her to spend time with him. She always turned him down, nicely. But one day he showed up at the house with two pounds of raw meat in a plastic bag. He presented this to her, smiling. She had no idea what to do, or why he would choose to do this. And, she sensed that something was expected of her, because he just sort of kept smiling and sat down waiting expectantly.
She retreated to the other part of the house (their house is tiny) where the woman of the house told her that this gift of meat was to indicate the guy liked her and wanted to show his intentions of getting serious with her. The next part of this ritual was that the girl was to show her acceptance by cooking the meat, while the guy hung around. Then everyone in the family, and the guy suitor were to eat the meal together.
Well, she didn't want to "accept his intentions", but she didn't want to be rude. So she told him thanks, but that she didn't know how to cook, so the lady of the house was going to cook the meat. The guy didn't quite know what to make of this. This was a new twist for him (I guess it seemed like he was being turned down, but he wasn't sure right then; after all she had kept the meat.)
The lady of the house did cook the meat and they did all eat together. When the Jennifer sent him home after dinner she reinforced that he was a nice person and thanks for the meat, but that she only wanted to be casual friends with him. So, I think both of them got off without any truly hurt feelings.
This is the same young lady who had earlier told us that she doesn't mind living in a rural mountain village and she doesn’t miss dating; she likes living simply at this time in her life. She said she was glad to be away from the "meat market" dating scene in Canada, where guys are always seeking out new casual relationships with new girls.
Welcome to Guatemala, where at least you get real meat!
The following week I was driving back from the hospital to the mountains with some indigenous villagers. It was 10 pm and we were all tired, having found out that there was nothing that could be done for the one man's daughter (She was 11 yrs old, weighed 20 pounds, and had cerebral palsy.) So I thought a bit of levity would help. I told this story of "Boy Meats Girl" and they thought it was so funny. They laughed and then joked back and forth in their native Catchiquel Indian dialect.
So I asked, is this the custom in your village? "No, giving meat, that's funny!" was about the response I got. So I asked "You don't give meat when you are interested in a girl." They laughed again. Then with a look of all sincerity, they explained "Oh no. We give bread".
I got a kick out of the fact that they thought it was so hilarious that someone would give meat, but that it was perfectly proper to give bread. (Given the fact that meat is ten times more valuable, I wonder.)
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