Monday, January 10, 2011

Stories from the Holidays

Hello, hello!

So many celebrations!  Christmas was wonderful here.  We started with mass on Christmas Eve, which was preceded by a live nativity.  That began with a kid with a donkey mask walking down the aisle, very closely followed by Mary (so it was like she was on the donkey maybe?)  That illusion didn’t last very long though, because Mary stopped to talk to someone and the donkey kid kept walking.  The most important part of the Nativity scene, of course, is the baby Jesus.  And because there is never a shortage of babies in this country, they always use a real baby, which makes for some noisy Nativities.

Isaias with Papa Noel-that's not his happy face.
After mass, we returned to the Hogar where we had a traditional midnight meal to welcome Christmas.  They really love fireworks here, so those began at midnight and continued well into the night.  On Christmas morning (after a few hours of sleep), Melia and I got up to put out stockings, then cooked breakfast (chocolate pancakes!).  Papa Noel came after lunch to hand out gifts.  We got hoola hoops for the 5-10 year olds (Santa Ana dormitory) to share, but they immediately began fighting over them, so we took them back for a few days.  Aidee (sassy 7 year old who lies out the wazoo) came to our kitchen that night and asked when they would be receiving the rest of their gift.  When I told her not yet, she responded “Well, you should know that EVERYONE in Santa Ana is crying right now!” and stalked off.  Love her.

New Year’s Eve found us with another late night party and, you guessed it, hours of fireworks.  For this one, we gave out bags of candy and a pair of yellow or red underwear (for money or love, respectively, in the New Year!  Those were a big hit.)  Then, on the 6th (the Epiphany), a rich family came, brought a DJ and HUGE speakers and threw a party for all of the girls.  Lots of fun, lots of sugar, will be followed by lots of trips to the dentist.  What’s the next holiday? President’s day? I don’t think we celebrate that one here.  Thank goodness.

Aside from parties, there have been other things to occupy my time.  One of our dogs, Afra, became deathly ill and immediately began sleeping directly outside my door.  Which is ironic because, as of right now, the only thing I could do for her was not step on her on my way out.  I really thought she was going to die, in which case I was going to beg to be allowed to cut her open.  But she made a miraculous turn around.  Completely on her own at that, because I saw what the vet did, and that didn’t have any effect at all.

While Afra was sleeping outside my door, one of her gross, engorged ticks crawled under my door and onto my bed.  This is the only explanation I will accept because I refuse to admit that it could have come off of me.  Anyway, I killed the thing before I realized that it was a tick, gushing Afra blood all over my sheets.  The tragedy of this is that I had just washed my sheets.  Big deal you say?  Well, we hand wash everything here.  I almost cried…and then I left them like that for a few days.

I recently spent my first night in a hospital ever.  Not for me, one of the babies had an abcess on the back of his neck.  It really didn’t turn out to be too awful because we were at a private clinic (run by Dr. Clever Moron, my favorite pediatrician, and yes that’s his real name).  At first, we were going to be at the Children’s Hospital.  Which really would have been awful because apparently they don’t like washing sheets either, or believe in patching window screens.  And there were spiders on the wall.  Thankfully, the director of the Hogar pulled us out of that hospital and moved us to the clinic, were I had my own bed to not sleep in while I jiggled the baby in the one position that didn’t hurt his neck half the night.  He’s fine now.

I usually find out about fun little outings with the girls 3-5 minutes before we leave, and so have grown accustomed to being fairly spontaneous.  So as I was walking into the Hogar returning from the dentist and Madre Rosario stopped the truck full of girls on her way out to ask if I wanted to go to the pool, of course I said yes and hopped in.  (Please note, when I say “truck full of girls” I am referring to a 4-door Toyota Tundra that already has 6 people in the cab and 20 bathing suit clad girls in the bed.)  And then I went swimming fully clothed and taught one of my more difficult children to tread water.  That was a really good day.

The most recent funny story is that I had chicken feet in my soup a couple of days ago.  The funny part is that we cooked this for a homeless shelter in Jamaica during Spring Break a couple of years ago, and I was appalled.  This time around, I didn’t think too much of it, just fished around them.  I really do think it added some great flavor.  Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.  As for the popular question, what happened to the rest of the chicken?  I think we ate them the next day.  That, or someone just donated a bunch of chicken feet to the Hogar.  Be generous with what you have, I guess.

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