Last Saturday, our god-daughter from the hogar, Maria del Carmen (usually just goes by Carmen as everyone is a Maria around here), turned 7 (we think, she wasn’t sure). To celebrate we took her out for ice cream to a spot in town, and told her to pick two friends that she wanted to bring with her. We met them around dinner time and took a taxi to the main plaza. Luckily for us things weren’t too crazy (it was Carnival weekend after all), we did get sprayed with a bit of foam inside the taxi as we were driving down one of the side streets though, but we arrived at the restaurant without incident.
Once we grabbed a table and sat down, we had to decide what to order. None of us had eaten, so we decided to get a bit of food for an appetizer before our main course of ice cream. We settled on a plate of salchi-papas (which is french fries with pieces of hotdog cut up over it) and a couple plates of plain fries. While we were waiting for the food to come, we told the girls they could go play in the play area. The play area was a typical child-proofed contraption, like you’ll find in the kids area at McDonalds. However the girls were a bit afraid of it and didn’t really want to go, as they’d never been to anything like that before. It took a bit of convincing to get them in, but about ten seconds after they entered it that was all forgotten and they were running around having a great time.
It took a while for the fries to arrive, and they seemed to have tired themselves out by then, or they were just excited and didn’t want to miss the food…I’m not sure. When they got their plates of fries, they thought it was a great treat, but it was a common example of the eyes being bigger than the stomach, and none of them could finish so Laura and I had to help out Three of the most exciting parts for them were the ketchup, mayonnaise and napkins. They weren’t familiar with any of them and didn’t know how to use the squirt bottles to get the condiments out. They also didn’t know what a napkin was used for (there aren’t any at the Hogar). After we caught one girl using her shirt to clean up a spill on the table we had a discussion about how to use a napkin. By the end of the night we had gone though all the napkins at the table! Possibly more out of novelty than need.
Ordering ice cream was also a bit of a trick. They were all super excited for ice cream, but none of them had any idea what form it should take. They weren’t familiar with concepts such as a “sundae” or any of the fancier ice cream creations that were available. And ordering was further complicated by the fact that any time chocolate ice cream was mentioned they all shouted “Chocolate! Chocolate!” In the end we just ordered the first three things on the menu for them, so they could try a couple different ones.
When the ice cream came, it was another instance of the eyes being bigger than the stomach. Once again Laura and I had to make the great sacrifice and help them out with theirs
But finally all the cups of ice cream were cleaned out.
Once we were finished with the ice cream, it was time to open the presents. The main present Laura and I got her was a barbie-like doll along with some stickers, seen immediately after opening here:
The doll was somewhat of an adventure. Laura had figured out a couple months ago that Carmen would be interested in having a doll for her birthday (like any 7yr old girl). Laura then came up with a grand plan of finding a culturally sensitive doll, that actually depicts someone with dark skin and hair (unlike the tall, white, blond dolls that are most common here). The idea was to build up good self image, and counter the idea around here that having light skin and hair was the best. Unfortunately when Laura discreetly asked Carmen what she would like in a doll it was clear that she really wanted one with light skin/hair…thus it became a decision of giving her what she wanted vs. going with the ideals. Since it was her birthday, we decided to go with what she was wanting (but did go with a brunette instead of a blond)….and she seemed to like it.
After the presents, we took the girls back to the hogar in a taxi and that was the night. Lots of fun for all!