The hotter the temperature rises, the quieter our little town becomes. Most of the tourists have now gone home and many of the local restaurants and shops have either closed for the summer or reduced their hours. The ones that are still open are offering great discounts. We are enjoying eating out more, supporting the locals who are hoping to hold on until the tourists return. Yesterday at Los Tejabanes we had a full lunch with vegetables soup, rich and delicious Chile Rellenos with rice and a drink for only 70 pesos – $4 CDN.
The summer slowdown definitely does not mean the Mexicans have stopped partying however, and we had two great parties this week.
First was a surprise birthday party for me at the orphanage. I am usually not there on Wednesday afternoons, but I have some new English teachers and was showing them the ropes. We held our 5 classes – 3 hours of singing “Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes” while teaching body parts (when did I stop being able to comfortably touch my toes?) and I really can’t believe that none of our little students gave away the secret. While we taught the oldest class during the last hour, the staff and younger children were busy blowing up balloons, decorating the house, stuffing a piñata and putting a LOT of candles in the cake. Just before 5:00, the classroom door opened, and Grant came in carrying a cake followed by a crowd of little ones wearing crowns and masks and yelling “Happy Birthday Karen”. We spent the next 2 hours singing and dancing and eating cake and piñata candy and of course the obligatory Mexican tradition of smashing my face in the cake. This is called “Mordida” – literally “taking a bite” – everyone yelling “Mordida, Mordida” while the birthday girl or boy takes the first bite of the cake. Gael thought it was hilarious to really shove my face in that delicious chocolate icing.
The next day I looked through all the cards that the children – and the grown ups had made – and I was moved by their love, their openness and their artistic abilities. They had worked hard to make beautiful messages of love and I am so grateful. Perhaps my favorite came from Mareli who is one of our weekend children. This is the card she wrote:
This is the translation:
“I love you and I give thanks for all that you have given us Karen. I love you very much. Karen with all my heart I thank you for giving me the opportunity to go to your house.”
Sometimes it’s hard to love children who have really tough lives and families, who struggle and who can never truly be my own, but this message just made it all worthwhile. Not because they are grateful for the ‘stuff’ we give them, but because they feel loved and are able to share love. That is good for them and also super good for us.
On Friday night we were invited to another party. You remember Gloria? I told you about the house she built and the pit her husband dug to be an oven for their birria.
Well this week Gloria invited us to come and share the deer that one of their friends had hunted up in the mountains. I have never seen a deer in Mexico, but apparently they do exist. Gloria and Adrian put the gifted deer meat in a large pot with chilis and spices and slices of oranges and buried it all in the ground with hot charcoal and wood and waited a few hours. It was exciting to watch Adrian take off the coals that had been heaped on top, remove the metal covering, hoist up the hot, heavy pot, unfold the layers of foil to finally reveal the meat. The mouth watering smell hit us first and although I wasn’t very hungry and hadn’t planned to eat much, I ended up with a heaping plate of beans, tortillas and tender shredded deer meat. It was a feast and of course the night ended with karaoke and laughter and I even blew out my shoe dancing!
Thank you for the many birthday wishes I received this week from all over the world – Canada and the US and Sweden and Mexico and Cuba. I couldn’t be more excited to see where this new year takes Grant and I. All I know for sure is there will be children, there will be delicious food, there will be adventure, there will be love, and there will be DANCING!