Sunday, August 7, 2011

Quinceanera de Rosa Mary

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that Juanita had invited me to attend her daughter’s 15th birthday party.  Yesterday she told me that it was happening today.  I was really excited, because Haley and Myles were back for the weekend, so that meant they could come, too! 

The quinceanera was held in a pueblo called Santa Maria de Jesus, about halfway up Volcan  Agua.  To get there we had to take a microbus (15-passenger van) for 3.50q (less than 50 cents).  These microbuses don’t have signs on them, so you stand on the corner and as they drive by, you flag them down and ask where they’re going. 

Myles & Haley in the microbus. 
She and I were squatting on the floor,
whichseemed to amuse the other 20+ riders!
There were already more than 20 kids and adults on the one we caught, so three bigger Americans squishing in made them all laugh. 

Before heading up we had gone to the local Supermercado to buy a card and some nail polish in fun colors.  We also bought some nail polish remover, and I added some of the stickers I carry everywhere with me.  Dona Cristi sent along a prettily wrapped package for Rosa Mary, too. 
walking in Santa Maria de Jesus
Juanita was waiting for us when we got off in Santa Maria de Jesus along with her aunt and another woman.  I don’t think the pueblo gets too many visitors because we got lots of stares.  One sweet little girl almost tripped as she twisted around to get one more look at the three gringos! 
After a stop for a cake, we headed to the little compound where the father of the children lived with extended family, including her abuela on her dad's side.  His name is Jose, and he was very kind.  He and Juanita seem to get along okay.
Rosa Mary (l) and one of her friends.
The compound had around 10 little shacks, some made of cinderblock, others of bamboo.  There was one shack that served as the kitchen.  There were two pilas (concrete tubs and flats stones for washing clothes, dishes, etc.)  The floors we saw were all dirt.  There were also lots of chickens and ducks, a rooster, a dog and a horse.  The central area had plastic hung to help keep off rain, and it was decorated with balloons in honor of Rosa Mary’s quinceanera. 
Rosa Mary came out of one of the little shacks wearing a pretty dress and a pair of shoes borrowed from her mom.  She is a shy and pretty girl (a lot like her mama!).  Along with Rosa Mary, two other girls were also 15.  They were playful and silly with each other and it was fun to see the obvious affection they shared. 
(l-r) Walter, Juanita, Rosa Mary, Miriam and a cousin
Juanita has an older son, Walter, and an older daughter, Miriam, who is a mom herself.  I think she’s around 18, and baby Samuel is less than a year.  We guessed Walter at around 20.    
We sat down and were served pepian, rice and corn tortillas on styrofoam plates.  We also had a sweet white liquid to drink.  Pepian is a special dish made for important occasions.  It has a dark sauce with an almost smoky flavour to it.  It is made with up to three different meats (chicken, beef and pork) although most poorer families only use chicken.  Since this was a very special occasion, this pepian was made with beef!
Birthday girl with her dad and grandmother.
The food was delicious and it was fun to sit and try and chat with people.  We didn’t understand everything, but smiles are always universal!  One of the other girls was also named Kimberley.  Juanita called out, “Kimberley” from the kitchen, and I yelled back, “Si” which caused them all to laugh. 
After blowing out candles... before the face-plant!
After lunch we took pictures of the birthday girl and her family.  Then it was time for the cake.  Juanita counted out 15 candles and after lighting them, everyone sang.  Rosa Mary blew out the candles and then at the urging of her friends, leaned in to take a bite of the cake. 
As she did, her big sister pushed her face into it.  It reminded me of how some couples shove cake into each other’s faces at wedding receptions.  She took it well – and got revenge later by smearing the whipped cream frosting onto her friends and Miriam! 
The rain that had held off during the party started as we headed back to where we could catch another microbus home.  We were so glad it had stayed away for Rosa Mary’s quinceanera!
What a day!!
Juanita lives on the other side of Antigua, so she rode down with us and made sure we got off at the right street.  She was going home to get some sleep because she has to be back up and at it at 5am tomorrow.  “To get Kimberley’s breakfast”, she teased. 
This wasn’t something on any tourist brochure, or anything we’d have been able to experience staying in a fancy hotel.  Instead, it was being included in a part of the life of a family.  Sitting on a plastic chair eating yummy food with a plastic spoon, chatting with new friends in broken Spanish… wow, what a day!

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