On Sunday, we were planning on going for a hike with a group called Sanguay, to a nearby waterfall. But Debby said that she got a text message that morning that the trip had been canceled because the driver had gotten into an accident the night before. So we moved to Plan B - attending the birthday party of Antonela, the 4 year old daughter of Maria Fernanda and Pichi, grandaughter of Jaime and Rita.
We went to Jaime and Rita's house, and got a ride with them to the location were the party was being held, a place with a nice large yard, and a small covered patio area where the food was kept. The theme of the party was Dora the Explorer (the Mexican-American bilingual cartoon character), and shortly after the party started, in came Dora. The guests at the party were mostly family, probably about 40 people in all. It was great to see a typical, upper-middle class birthday party, and the kind of activities that are part of it. Some games were the same as ones we know: a sack race, musical chairs, but other activities were different. The parents passed out large squares of paper and asked each family to make a card or "memory square" for Antonela. Another one of the games was called "Estatuas" or "Statues" and it is a bit like musical chairs, without the chairs. One of the aunts led the kids in dancing to music, and when the music stopped, the kids have to remain frozen while the aunt tried to get them to laugh.
Ecuadorians have an interesting twist to the birthday cake thing - after blowing out the candles, the birthday girl takes a bite of the uncut cake with no forks or hands, and someone pushes her face into the cake! Hmmm. It was an enjoyable party, even if the only food was pale hot dogs in a bun with potato chips, ketchup and mayo.
Another interesting feature of this party was facepainting - by Nikki! She first started face painting on the boat back from Stehiken this past summer, when after getting her face painted by a fellow passenger, she asked if she could borrow the paints, and then proceeded to paint another kid's face. She got really interested in the concept, and bought some paints, which she brought with her to Ecuador. She made up a small poster with the figures that she can do, and practiced on the neighbor kids. After doing a couple of kids at the party, she had quite a line waiting for their turn.
Afterward, we loaded up the cars with the presents and headed back to Jaime and Rita's. It was a smaller group, but when we got back, there was another surprise waiting - a birthday party for me! Debby had planned the whole thing (she didn't really get a text message that morning), and had gotten a delicious chocolate cake, and had made a dinner for the whole group with Rita. The Ochoa family (Jaime, Rita and their kids) gave me a Panama hat (which are actually made in Ecuador, mainly in Cuenca) and a Ecuadorian wall hanging. Debby and the girls gave me a set of frying pans. We drank whiskey and had lunch and then had cake. Luckily for me, Rita said that the chocolate cake was too rich to smash my face into it. The Ecuadorian version of "Happy Birthday to You" for adults includes the verse "Estas poniendote viejito, estas poniendote viejito, estas poniendote viejito, y solo te falta el baston." (You're getting older, etc., and all you are missing is the cane.) It was a very enjoyable day, with lots of talking, eating and drinking - a wonderful way to spend the day.