Thursday, September 9, 2010

Party Time (Oaxaca, Mexico)

I sleep in one bedroom, with a fidgety dog at the foot of the bed. A. claims the living room couch. We wake up early, to the sounds of the animals braying, crowing, and barking.

We eat sweet bread with cinnamon and raisins and guzzle freshly brewed coffee. Breakfast, in an hour, will include the freshest of eggs made into an omelet with quesillo, the local string cheese (think mozzarella), and huge oyster mushrooms. There's fruit salad and more coffee.

We accompany T. to a birthday party for 4-year-old Carlitos, the spirited son of some of his friends. Some poor guy is dressed in a Buz Lightyear suit. A fast-talking clown and his cowboy sidekick (another guy costumed as a character from "Toy Story") draw all the children into fast-paced activities, from tug-o'-war to team competitions that involve lining up pairs of parents' shoes, to relay races with balloons carried between knees and deposited in baskets, to musical chairs and more. Food is plentiful: tamarind ice pops, snack foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, sandwiches, a to-die-for nut cake with mocha icing and bitter chocolate sauce, and a to-die-from orange and white gelatin, molded in the shape of guitars. Decorations include baskets of white carnations and other flowers, shaped into cute-as-a-button puppies. Pinatas expose the passive or violent natures of little children in the ways they swing the bat and swoop up the candies.

All the children, as well as we gringo guests, receive gift bags. T. gets a plastic container for his lunch, a Disney book from the movie Cars, and candy. I get a water bottle; donitos, a pale orange, fried dough junk food, especially tasty when doused in hot sauce, of which I am overly fond; a bag of Cheetos flavored with chili and lime; and tons of candy. A. gets lots of sweets, but I try not to taunt her too much with the fact that my bag is better than her bag.

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