The World Class Tortillaista

Recently Andrew and I were sitting in our host-family's kitchen eating our fourth tortilla. They really do start to grow on you after a while, mostly because if you don't eat at least three, you'll go to bed hungry. The ancient Mayans long ago figured out that if you finish a meal with a sizable lump of wet, ground maize in your stomach, you won't be hungry anymore. Luckily this tradition has been passed down for hundreds of years to the two gringos sitting in the kitchen on this particular day.

And so, as we watched our 67 year old host-grandmother (simply known to us as Nan) form her tortillas and toss them unceremoniously on our open stove top, we pondered how many tortillas Nan had made over the course of her lifetime.
Nan started making tortillas when she was 12. Which means she's had 55 years of tortilla making.
Tortillas are eaten at every meal, three times a day, and each woman usually makes about 20 (normalizing for a lifetime throughout which some days Nan won't make any tortillas at all, but at some parties, she'll make 100 in one go).
So on average she'll make 20 x 3 = 60 tortillas/day
60 x 7 = 420 tortillas/week
420 x 52 = 21,840 tortillas/year
21,840 x 55 = 1,201,200 tortillas that Nan has made over the course of her lifetime.
Nan has made over one million tortillas. Surely there's a golden tortilla or something that awaits you at one million? Some sort of commendable recognition you receive for a dedicated lifetime of tortilla making? I mean, there should be a ceremony where the whole village turns out and Nan talks about some of her favorite tortilla memories:  Her first lumpy tortilla, the group of fifteen or so she ate on her son's wedding day, the time she swallowed one whole on accident and nearly died. The one that saved the lonely gringo from a maddening hunger.
I mean there's history in these tortillas.
Each one embodies a time, place, and occasion. Each tortilla is saturated with ground maize, brow sweat and good old fashioned time on task. Each tortilla is a moment. Tortillas in Guatemalan culture are far more than just a way to fill you up. They give grounding and comfort to its people, including the two gringos who Guatemala has wrapped her arms around and asked to stay. Tortillas  provide the rhythm for everyday life here. Without them, quite frankly, we'd feel as though we lost a part of ourselves. Yes, they are sustenance, but they are also tradition, culture, and memory.
On the day of her one millionth tortilla surely Nan failed to realize how far she had come since her first day as a 12-year-old tortillaist. Her millionth tortilla probably went to one of the dogs; or maybe it was dunked in chocolate and rice and lost at the bottom of her 2-old grandchild's cup. I like to think that the millionth tortilla marked a lifetime of memories and experiences. A lifetime of hopes, dreams, fears, failures, and successes all backed by the steady beat of three tortilla helpings a day.