Growing up in Belize in a family with 13 kids
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Adelia Asplund came to the United States from Belize in 1979. She was 18. Asplund came in search of a better life, but she treasures the one she left behind.
Asplund: My dad farmed and hunted. He would go hunting in the forest, and we wouldn’t see him for a long time. When he came home he would bring a deer and then he started getting tigers and alligators. People heard about him and soon American hunters came to have my dad guide them in the jungle.
While my dad was hunting, my mom would go and buy stuff in Mexico and Guatemala and then we would resell it. On weekends, we kids would go door-to-door and sell the things she brought back.
My mom’s other job was raising kids because every year she had kids. She had 13 kids, and we lived in a tiny house. There were only two bedrooms, one for the boys and one for the girls. Our beds were along the wall like bunkbeds. Dad and Mom lived in the middle of the house and slept in hammocks. The kitchen was outside, and we had to do the laundry outside by hand, lots of scrubbing. We had to bring our water from far away. It was two miles from the house.
The boys would go for water very early every day and then start farming. We raised all of our food. We all had to work. My parents took us out of school when we were very young because we couldn’t afford it. We had no money to buy the pencils, paper and books that you needed to go to school.
Our parents took me and my sisters out of school in fourth grade. They didn’t think that girls needed to study, because when they get married their husbands take care of them. We had to help in the house and take care of the little kids, do laundry, cooking and cleaning.
Gallacher: Do you have a favorite family memory?
Asplund: It was fun growing up with a bunch of kids, especially when we were having breakfast. We would have to cook a lot of flour or corn for tortillas and fry eggs. The kids would start gathering around the table. Everybody got a little bit here and a little bit there. And even after breakfast the kids would still be hungry. They would be looking in the fry pan and trying to lick it to get more.
I’ll never forget all the laughing and fighting while we were eating breakfast or eating lunch. We were so happy talking and telling each other how we felt. My mom, my dad and us kids, that was the best. Even if we were only eating eggs with tortillas, we were so happy.
Gallacher: Do you feel like that around your table now?
Asplund: Not anymore. Everybody has different schedules. I work and everybody else works. Nobody is home, so sometimes I am eating all by myself. But we are a very close family, so we are always together. We are always having family parties and inviting each other to spend time together, because I think that is what we miss.
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