By the time we got up and headed to breakfast, Yoselin and Yasmin had already gone to school. We ate with Humberto, Paulina, Vanesa, Paola, Eddy, and Aracely. Breakfast was corn flakes with banana and coffee. Paola and Eddy played with my computer at the table.
Tonight the family was going to have a party, and we needed to do some preparations. We headed out with Paulina, Aracely, and Eddy to do the necessary errands. Our first stop was Aracely's school, Atitlan Multicultural Academy. School had just ended for the summer and Paulina had hoped to be able to show us around. Unfortunately, the building was closed today.
We continued up Rancho Grande to the center of town. On our way to the bank, we passed the iglesia of San Francisco de Asis, the family's church where we had been named as Aracely and Eddy's godparents. After stopping at the bank, we entered the market through the back entrance, where locals were eating at prepared food stalls.
Paulina bought many vegetables, including avocados and tomatoes, and some fruits including strawberries. She also stopped ito the Pollo Rey chicken butchery and asked for a number of chickens to be put aside for her to pick up later.
Paulina saw her brother Carlos and his tuk-tuk out in front of he market, and hired him to take us home. The kids wanted granizadas (freshly shaved ice snow cones with fruit). Paulina went over to the granizada stand but the person manning it was away.
We didn't have time to wait around, so we had Carlos take us home via Calle Santander so that we could stop for granizadas there. Eddy sat in the way back of the tuk-tuk. The granizada stand here served more of a tourist clientele than the one at the local market. A woman used her metal ice shaver to prepare 5 pineapple and strawberry granizadas. They were deliciously refreshing. We got back into the tuk-tuk and Carlos drove us back to the house. Paulina made sure to invite him and his family to tonight's party, starting at around 7.
Vanesa was doing her homework at the dining room table. Aracely played on the computer and then spelled some words with the alphabet puzzle pieces: DOG, CAT, BEST DOG RUN FLY, etc. Before we knew it, Yasmin and Yoselin arrived home from school. Then we had make-your-own pupusas for lunch. These were specially home-made tortillas which you could top with salsa, yellow cabbage, and radish like a little pizza. They were quite good.
We took showers and got dressed for the party. We sat with the kids on the outside patio. The hummingbird came back and we enjoyed watching it flit from flower to flower. We gave the kids little baggies of candy, and we gave each of the girls a scarf which had been knitted by Craig's mother. They liked them and immediately modeled them. We gave Eddy a K'NEX plastic construction set. We helped him to make the vehicle pictured on the box. Then Paulina went back to the market to pick up the chicken she had put aside.
Shortly before 7 o'clock, guests began arriving. Craig and I found ourselves greeting them. Little Gisele was once again wearing her traditional Mayan attire, looking absolutely adorable. We gave her two pieces of candy to welcome her and she started jumping up and down with excitement. She was very cute and acted quite comfortable with us.
Soon an army of kids marched by carrying plastic tables and chairs rented from the party store next door to Humberto's office. They set them up in the hallway and in two of the empty guest rooms.
Paulina arrived in a tuk-tuk with a heavy grocery bag full of chicken. Craig carried it in for her and she disappeared into the kitchen. Paulina's sister Estela arrived with daughters Yesmy, Loren, and baby Michele. Estela helped Paulina in the kitchen.
Soon Humberto's nephew Juan and his wife Yolanda arrived with their kids Junior and Fatima. Fatima was Craig's buddy for the duration of the evening. We greeted each kid and gave them some candy as they arrived.
Loren asked if she could use the camera, so I set her up with it. We walked to the end of the alley, where the older kids were congregating. Junior, Andrik, Yesmy, Yasmin, Yoselin, Junior, and Neli were playing Chinese jumprope. Vanesa arrived home from school. We were happy that she would not miss the party.
Back at the house, the women went back and forth between the kitchen and two outdoor grills. A large bag of charcoal had been delivered, and they had borrowed someone's large grill. Vanesa helped her mom to prepare the chicken.
Soon Paulina's sister Olga arrived with four-year-old Juan Isidro, and toddler Alison Margarita. We were introduced to Humberto's niece Blanca and her husband Pablo. We were already acquainted with their little boy David, who often came to play with the kids. And they were expecting another baby. Blanca's mother, Prisceda, was with them. Humberto's nephew Victor, his wife Rosa, and their kids Neli, Andrik, Julisse, and Alex also arrived.
Estela got some tomatoes roasting on the grills, fanning the charcoal. In the kitchen, the women chopped and peeled vegetables.
I entered Yoselin and Yasmin's room and found Eddy there, attentively watching baby Michele who was laying on the bed. He was doting on her, giving her a blanket and Aracely's doll. It was very cute. Eddy was used to being the baby in his household, but he was a big boy compared to seven-month-old Michele. Then Yesmy, Loren, Yoselin, and Yasmin came in. Yoselin and Yasmin took turns holding Michele, and then handed her to me. She is very tiny but very sweet and happy.
Aracely was in Humberto and Paulina's room showing off a bit. She showed the other girls her diary and her baby doll, and asked me to sing "10 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" while she acted the story out by jumping on her parents' bed.
Craig met up with me in the house and we went outside and found Eddy crying. He had apparently bumped his head, and Pablo was comforting him. The kids played with my computer and the camera. We all took pictures of one another playing together. Vanesa helped to set up Humberto's computer so that we would have music.
Juan Isidro, who has historically been frightened of us, even smiled when I took his picture, and later in the night he stopped to hug my legs as he walked by. It is fun to see the kids warm up to us over time. Another case in point: little Alison Margarita was Craig's buddy tonight. Though she wouldn't approach us earlier in the week, tonight she stood close to him, staring into his eyes as he talked to her in English, nodding her head very seriously and attentively. It was adorable.
Paulina's brother Carlos, his wife Vilma, and their daughters Erica and Elizabeth arrived. Humberto handed Craig a can of Gallo beer, and got me set up with a rum and orange juice. We sat at the end of the hallway with Carlos. A few minutes later, Humberto walked his mother down the hallway and sat her down next to me. It was really nice that she was feeling well enough to attend.
I kept moving, as I wanted to get pictures of the whole event. At one point I went into Yoselin and Yasmin's room and Eddy was just by himself being very quiet. I gave him a hug and he rubbed what was becomng a huge knot on his forehead. Poor kid; that had to hurt. Then Loren walked in and asked if there were more dulces (sweets). I took them both to my room and gave them each an extra infusion of sugar, and that perked Eddy right up.
I brought my computer over to the table in the hallway and played the New Year's Eve video, which featured most of the guests. They all loved it and watched it again and again.
Paola had a friend over, and they spent much of the evening in her room. The friend's name was Vanesa, just to make things more confusing. Olga's daughter Pamela and Estela's daughter Laisa were now here, and joined in with the rest of the kids.
The women were now cooking chicken on the grill. It smelled wonderful. In the girls' room, Laisa helped Yasmin to tie baby Michele onto her back. Yasmin and Yoselin were both very good with the baby.
It is amazing how things come together at a party like this. So many people are involved with the preparation doing so many different tasks. Then all at once, everything is finished and ready to be served.
The kids were fed first; around a dozen of them sat around some tables in one of the empty guest rooms. The adults sat in the hallway and we were served on rectangular white styrofoam plates: blackened chicken in home-made salsa, rice, fresh guacamole, tortillas and grilled onions. It was absolutely delicious. We had more cocktails and tea as we chatted with Carlos, Vilma, and their girls. Erica is at a university in Xela studying civil engineering. She went to school at AMA and speaks very highly of the school and how well it prepared her for college. Elizabeth is still in high school at AMA. Loren came over and sat on my lap.
Humberto and Paulina's families enjoy being together, sharing food and drink, talking and laughing. Back in the house, the women who had oprepared the meal were finally eating. Olga was eating in the kitchen, Isabela was eating in Yoselin and Yasmin's room, and Vanesa was eating at the dining room table.
When the kids were done eating, they played together on the lawn. Yasmin took her new scarf and put it on baby Michele - it looked adorable. The girls were doing little photo shoots with the blue camera. They struck modeling poses sitting in chairs and climbing the ladder which was propped up against the house.
After dinner, we sat with Paulina and Humberto. Then Estela joined us with baby Michele, who as usual was all smiles and giggles. They passed around some locally made sweet hooch. The kids brought over the kaleidoscope, and the adults had a lot of fun looking through it and passing it around. As it got later, David fell asleep on Blanca's lap. She then passed him to Pablo, and they covered him with a sweatshirt. Eddy went over to the ice bucket and ladled some ice into a styrofoam cup for Gisele. She then returned the favor for him.
We had a great time chatting with everyone. As it got later, those with children left, and Humberto's kids went off to bed one by one. By the end of the night it was Victor, Rosa, Juan, Yolanda, Humberto, Paulina and us. Vanesa and Yasmin were the only kids left standing.
As the other adults left, Humberto told us that Victor had invited all of us for a day on the lake tomorrow. We weren't sure exactly what this entailed, but Humberto said he'd like to bring his mother as well, so it sounded like a nice opportunity to spend more time with the family.
We had a long chat with Vanesa and Yasmin about their futures. Even though it was late, we don't always have the chance to have serious conversations with them when the younger ones are around. It was a good opportunity.
When it reached 4 o'clock, we knew we were all long-overdue for bed. Humberto had scheduled a meeting for us at AMA school at 9 in the morning, so we needed to get what sleep we could.
Paulina and Aracely buy produce at the market
Craig, Loren, Alison Margarita, Steph, and Eddy
Estela fans the coals on the grills
Olga, Yolanda, and Rosa prepare food
Victor, Abuela, Prisceda, Blanca, and Juan
Fatima, Gisele, Yoselin, Yesmy, Junior, Loren, Aracely, Josue, and Neli
Paulina, Estela with baby Michele, and Olga
Late night cocktails