Christmas is a national Holiday and we had the day off. In the morning I went hiking at a mountain in Guri, Ascasan, with a fellow teacher, Ginger-who was practically my neighbor in Portland. As you start to reach the top, it turns into what I would call a cemetery, with gravestones over mounds of grass. It is less “orderly”, or less on a grid than a Western cemetery, as the mounds didn’t appear to be placed in any sort of discernable pattern.
We reached the top where there was quite a view of Guri and what stood out to me was the incredible number of stacks of apartments. On the way down, we passed a group of Koreans having what looked to be a picnic when some of them started calling out after us “mocoli, mocoli, mocoli”, and as we walked over a man held out a plate of sliced carrots, beans, onion and red sauce.
He then gave us each a bowl of beige, milky liquid, which I thought was going to be a porridge or soup. Ginger watched me as I took a sip and I know I looked surprised because it was some kind of alcohol. It was early for me to be drinking and I had barely had food, but I didn’t want to refuse their generosity. I found out later “mocoli” is a traditional drink made from rice. They pointed for us to sit, asked us where we were from, how long we had been here and if we liked it.
We cheered with the group several times, “kambe” clinking our bowls together, and snacked on the veggies with the delicious, chili pepper sauce, a man joked was Korean ketchup. After we finished our “mocoli”, we continued on, saying many thank you’s as they wished us a Merry Chrismas. Later about 12 English teachers went to a Korean teacher’s house, where we watched Gremlins, Hook, ate, drank and opened cheap gifts that we had all pitched in on and a couple of teachers had gone to Costco to buy. Yes, there is a Costco in the neighborhood.