I was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Most of my childhood was spent living in Bolivia and learning Bolivian traditions and values. When I turned 12 years old we moved to Tsaile, Arizona. I lived on the Navajo reservation for approximately 9 years. My parents were raised in different cultural backgrounds. My father was born and raised in Minnesota, USA. Became a librarian and moved to Cochabamba, Bolivia to be the librarian for an international school. My mother was born and raised in Cochabamba, Bolivia, lived her life helping my grandparents and worked as a secretary for an international school.
Most of my heritage derives from my mother’s side. My mother’s parents were both decedents of Spanish and Quechua/Inca people. My family has Andean and Spanish traditions mixed together with American customs. We celebrate catholic holidays, Andean ceremonies, and American holidays in my family. My mother, our extended family, great grandparents, and grandparents all speak Spanish and understand/speak Quechua. I remember conversations that happened in Quechua between my mother and grandmother. They only spoke in Quechua so others around them could not figure out their private conversation. Most of our traditions came from certain holidays we celebrated with other fellow Bolivians. One of the most celebrated tradition was the festival of Alasitas. The festival of the Alasitas is celebrated at the end of January. We celebrate the festival of Alasitas to honor the god of generosity, prosperity, and abundance. He is known as el Ekeko a central figure in the Aymara traditions and an important part of the festival of Alasitas. Churches, plazas, and streets were filled with people from the city and countryside waiting to buy miniature material goods. After purchasing these goods they would wait for the Yatris (medicine man) to Challar (bless) the miniatures in order to gain the goods they need. Viewing things from the cultural aspect this celebration strengthened our connection to our native roots and gave us a way to honor our ancestors. This celebration is unique to our family because it gave us strength to move ahead and to value what we have as a whole. Another tradition that my family had was to celebrate el dia de los muertos (the day of the dead) in November. We would make an abundance of sweet bread, juice, and would create a shrine of our deceased relatives. As a family welcoming the deseeded relatives back we would adore the shrine with foods that they enjoyed before passing on. We would also invite over our neighbors to celebrate, welcome back, and honor our deceased relatives. I remember going around our neighborhood paying my respect and honoring my neighbor’s ancestors.
Most of my childhood was spent visiting my grandparents and great grandparents. One of the most memorable stories told to me was of my great grandfather Jose Lopez. He was a soldier that fought in the Chaco war in the 1930s. Chaco war was one of the bloodiest wars in Bolivian history. He told me about what the men around him endured and why to this day Bolivians still harbor dislike for Paraguayans and Chileans. I do not know how the story went it has been a long 15 years since my great grandfather told me his story before be passed away
My father was born in Minnesota and spent most of his youth there. He traveled around a bit and settled down in Bolivia after finding my mother. As a Goodrich we have our own family history that dates back to pre-colonial times. We have our own genealogy website with our families dating back to pre-colonial times and we have our very own castle (http://www.castlewales.com/goodrich.html ). Originally the Goodriches came from Wales and slowly made their way to American soil. I do not know much of the later history of our family but I do know that my father is part Sioux. As a Goodrich family member I spent summers and holidays (American) with my father’s family after we moved from Bolivia. My family incorporated many American customs into our lives. However, my father never has let us forget our Andean/Bolivian heritage and continues to push for my brother and I to dedicate some time in learning Quechua and refreshing our Spanish skills.
As for now, I usually spend time during the holidays with my family or my boyfriend’s family celebrating American traditions. I do once in awhile celebrate dia de los muertos, but these have been few and far apart. I am hoping to go back home (Bolivia) in December to spend some time with my grandfather who is not doing so well. I have too many fond memories that I spent with papa Jaime that I wish to make more before his time comes. Our family does not only extend to my parents and brother but also my extended family. In our family we make lasting connections with our cousins, grandparents, sisters, brothers, and our parents. We all keep in touch whether it be electronically or verbally. Our strongest network and support system is gain from our “familia”: we are very family-centered people.