A Story Worth Telling

5 Jan

As I prepare for the move to Mexico and sift through my life. I am reminded of past experiences that have not taken up much of my mental space for a long time. Posting the picture of making tamales in Mexico (the first time I’d ever tasted them) reminded me of what happened during that birthday at age 22. When I told my Mexican family that it was my birthday, they became excited and insisted on a party. La señora asked me if I had a white dress. (as if that was the first thing I’d packed for my stay in a foreign country.) At her insistence, I invited friends for a fiesta. I came home on the day of the party to find their meager house swept clean and all furniture magically disaparecido. My bedroom was decorated with red streamers and plastic flowers. The familia Vasquez were not a wealthy family by any standards. Their one room house was divided by curtains to give the semblance of three rooms for this couple and their three children. There were communal sinks in the courtyard, shared toilets and two showers for the four apartments, one of which I rented with another university student. The night of the party, my classmates arrived to celebrate and my family was so happy. As the evening progressed, there was banging at the entrance to the courtyard and a procession of people carrying a large glassed-in statue of the Infant of Prague invaded my party. People knelt and began to pray (what I later figured out was the rosary) with no explanation whatsoever. Well, there might have been an explanation, but my Spanish was limited and I really had no idea what was going on. My friends and I escaped to the courtyard to scratch our heads and wonder at this seemingly spontaneous show of piety and what it had to do with my birthday. I later learned that the rainy season was seriously delayed and the statue was being taken from house to house in order for prayers to be offered for rain. Cisterns were empty and crops were in danger. I love that a prayer service, complete with portable alter (it took four men to carry the statue on a stretcher and it must have weighed a ton) took precedent over a private birthday celebration with no thought to apologize. It was a blessing all around, as the rain started a short time later and I got to experience the most memorable birthday of my life.

My room decorated for a feliz compleaños

Mis compadres
The birthday girl
Juan y Ramon Vasquez
The courtyard facing the street. My room was the door on the left. Funny, I don’t remember it being this stark. It was a home where I felt loved and welcomed

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