The Guayusada A traditional storytelling ceremony

“Cock-a-doodle-dooooo,” the rooster shrieks. It’s 2am. I drain out the noise, knowing that I have another hour or two before I have to wake up. “Liza warmi!” my host mom screams. This alarm is not one that I can snooze. My vision is still blurred by the hazy darkness, but I know that it must be around 4am. It is time for guayusa. I untangle myself from my mosquito net and climb outside to soak up the heat from the burning candela. More people accumulate, as the tea steeps and steams. An elder tells a tale of the community from many years prior. Images of jaguars, eagles, boas, and the wild jungle dance in my mind as his story continues. We sip our guayusa in anticipation. He continues until the dawn breaks, and sunlight slowly illuminates our surroundings. This same myth has been passed down for generations. It transports us back to countless other mornings when people long gone listened to the same story with their steamy tea. Those listening will eventually be in charge of passing down this story and experience to future generations.

I breath in an abundance of fresh air. It rained last night, so the powerful current of Río Ansu echoes in the near distance. Chickens peck the dewed grass, searching for worms and leftover maíz. As I slurp the remanence of guayusa from my wooden bowl, my mind wanders to my own family’s morning routine and their daily cup of coffee. While the way these routines take place differs drastically, both my host family and my real family rely on warm, energizing drinks and stories to wake up and begin their day. Although the age we live in tends to focus on our differences and division, small connections like this remind me of our universal similarities and link two worlds that sometimes feel so disjointed. The pot of guayusa is dry. Only the wet, dark green leaves remain. Although I have no way of really knowing, I sense the empty mugs of coffee on my family’s kitchen table. It is officially time to start the day — both here and there.

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