This morning my first interview was set for 10am in Villa Sombrero. I had to get a ride on a motorbike to get there. I was amazed at how people who lived in the area were not able to give clear and concise directions. I ended up walking down a long street, as I searched for Mrs. Aguasvivas' residence. When I had arrived, her door was open and I noticed a huge "Corazón de Jesús" statue on a pedestal. I thought to myself, "this is going to be interesting!" She had thought that the interview was for tomorrow (May 28, 2015). She was in her night gown. She told me to wait. I waited for about 15 minutes on her porch on a rocking chair. Once she came out, she sat across from me as I explained the consent form. She said, "but my children need to read this first since this involves signing." I reassured her that it was not necessary since there was no risk involved. She trusted me! I began by writing down her genealogy. Next, I asked her about marriage customs. She explained that her parents did not necessarily study peoples' genealogies because everyone was known in her area. However, she did mention that her father would say that he did not want his family united with certain kind of people. She said that he would call them "charlatans." The family purity was a taboo in her family. Thus, girls were not educated about how with their husbands while menstruating. The strongest custom in her family were the dietary laws. It was interesting that the mother would ring the neck of the chicken, while the father would slice the neck of the cow. This demonstrates a divergence of customs between the father and the mother. Apart from these customs, she had a clear knowledge of Holy Week customs and explained how they would prepare for this solemn time period. Her mother would clean all of the pots and shine them, removing all traces of previous oils. Her family is very superstitious, not allowing children to count the stars and guarding the hair and nail clippings. She explained that it was not allowed to throw one's nail clippings on the ground because who stepped on them would become your enemy. It was interesting that although they were not allowed to go to the beach nor bathe in the river during Holy Week, on Good Friday around 5am, they would go to dip in the local river, without speaking. When I asked her to explain this to me, she said that the water had a special blessing. She did not have knowledge of the Inquisition nor of Jewish ancestry in her family. She did emphasize the Spanish ancestry though!

The next interview was with Mrs. Gonzalez. When I called her, a girl answered and said, "Papiiiiii." I said, "this is not your daddy!" Her mother quickly took the phone and asked me where I was. I told her that I would arrive shortly. I was a bit uncomfortable to interview her at the Church setting. I was 15 minutes late to the interview. She told me that she almost left.  I did not ask, but she seemed to be no more than 30 years old. As I started asking questions, I quickly realized that she did not have a vast knowledge of family traditions. The clearest traditions that she remembered were the dietary customs and the superstitions. I videotaped her 3 times and she laughed throughout the interview. She expressed to me that the times have changed from her grandparent's time until today. In fact, shed mentioned that men take women without the parent's consent and do not marry in the Church anymore. Finally, she said that her family was not too religious. They were not really church goers, until her mother started attending the Catholic Church and she tagged along (3 years ago). She scored the lowest out of the 78 questions that I ask.

Finally, I interviewed Mrs. Pimentel Lara. She is also from Villa Sombrero, but met me at the city center of Baní at the Casino. She was kind of in a rush. I assured her that the interview would be short. We started rapidly and she answered all of my questions. She had a very clear notion of family traditions. I was surprised to learn that divorced women in her family are not allowed to remarry. She also made a statement that "thank God, there are no cousins married with each other in the family." When I asked her about family purity and menstruation, she had no idea about this because it was a taboo to speak about it. However, she did give clear instructions about the "riesgo" 41-day period after childbirth. She was meticulous about this, explaining the scientific reasoning behind it. I smiled! She added that her mother says that there are crazy women out there because they no longer keep this tradition. Her family did have a sense of making the weekend special with food, clothing, and cleaning. She explained that they killed their chicken by twisting the neck. They did check eggs for blood spots and clean their rice 3 times before cooking it. She said that her family was very religious, attending as many services as possible. Just as all of the interviews thus far, her family demonstrated a high level of morals and ethics. It was interesting to learn that the men in her family wore/wear hats all of the time, and the women cover their heads at all times. Finally, she demonstrated a clear knowledge of the superstitions that crypto-Jews practiced throughout the Inquisition time period. When I asked her about the Inquisition, she said that she had heard about it, but was not sure what is was. She also denied having Jewish ancestry.

Until next time. Stay tuned...

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