Monday, April 27, 2009

Yalile's Birthday Party at Tex Mex

I have a lot of friends here with April and May birthdays. My April 13 birthday celebration has gone on and on, and I'm still waiting for Betty to take me out to lunch when she gets back from Florida.

Yesterday's celebration was for my new tica friend, Yalile. She turned 40-something. Yalile is a great person, is related to half of Santa Ana, and knows the other half. So at her party, which was held at the Tex Mex restaurant and bar, there were dozens of people in attendance.

Our mutual close friend, Susan, who is going to turn 50 next week, helped blow up balloons and set up the restaurant for the party. Marimba Los Arias, our local marimba band, played, and there was a lot of dancing. I don't know why I wore my white heels that are a little too loose and are not good for dancing, but I did, and hobbled around on the cobblestone dance floor.

I arrived at 1:30 in the afternoon and finally left at 8:00 in the evening. I'm told the party moved after that from Tex Mex to El Coco, one of our favorite hangouts owned by Yalile's cousin. And tonight a group is getting together at El Coco again for the hair of the dog. Without me, though. I'll be home getting my Dancing with the Stars fix.

Yalile (standing), the Birthday Girl

Margie and Susan

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happy 15

When a Latin girl turns 15, it's a big deal. Her family throws a big party for her and she receives many gifts. This is a coming-of-age event, similar to a Bat Mitzvah, but the religious overtones vary, depending on the country and the family.

I had the honor of being invited by the parents to their daughter's quince años (15 years) celebration. My Canadian friend, Susan, who has been coming to Santa Ana for eight years and has lived here for eight months, has generously introduced me to her very large circle of tico friends and acquaintances. It was through her that the parents invited me to attend the party.

Quinceañeras can range from rustic to lavish. The party we attended was definitely rustic. Held in the parking lot of a tractor truck terminal, we set up our beach chairs in the afternoon shade of a semi. As more guests arrived, they set up chairs with us or sat in the open-air back of a Jeep.

Under a canopied hut, the father, Parrita, tended to the fire and food. He grilled rubbed beef and he made chicharrones, which are deep fried pork pieces. If you can ignore the fat, the chicharrones are one of the best-tasting foods in all of Costa Rica. There were also big vats of cooked yucca and salad.

The birthday girl, Yoryita (pronounced Georgita), looked very pretty in a purple dress. She hung out with girls and boys her age, while family members and friends rounded out the 50 or 60 invitees.

Of course, at any tico party, the booze flows. People brought their own bottles of Johnny Walker Red, vodka, guaro (a hard liquor made from sugar cane) and beer. This was not a wine-drinking crowd. Music blared from a boombox. Everyone socialized with everyone. And all in Spanish.

I met some interesting new people, including Hernán, who studied agronomy in Russia for six years and who speaks a little English. He and his wife said they wanted to invited Susan and me to their house in San Jose for dinner sometime.


Parrita cooking

Susan and Yorya (Yoryita's mother)

Hernán and Margie