Saturday, September 8, 2012

Contrasts - part one

September 9 2012 – Quinceanera

Of all the things I could write about … I have to share briefly about this tradition … it is very different depending upon your economic means.

I went to a very humble ‘sweet 15’ party for Blanca’s niece a couple of years ago.  It was a simple affair held outside in the ‘patio’ area of a neighbor’s house.  Dirt floor … tree trunk posts holding up a large blue tarp for shade … plastic chairs placed around borrowed tables covered with simple cloths.  And a cake.  A single layer cake that was purchased from the local ice-cream store.  There were some streamers and a few balloons as decorations and a small ‘band’ from Las Delicias came to play – mostly religious songs.  The birthday girl was in a borrowed dress and was quite beautiful.
Gabriela y Marielas with gramma to the left and Fr. Santos

Special balloons
A lovely cake!

The first dance with grampa!

The cake topper is a special memento
The Las Delicias band

It was a lovely event.   Full of warmth and love and family and friends and neighbors –

Tonight – I got to see a different ‘sweet 15’ party.  I can’t even imagine how much money was spent on this party.    The girl’s dress alone probably cost more than the other party all together … it was quite beautiful though.  This event reminded me a bit of what I imagine a ‘coming of age’ party would look like in the deep south.

It was held at the girl’s school up the street.  And when we arrived it was already standing room only!  There were tables and chairs set up for (my guess) 300 people.  And it looked like they were all full.  But we were escorted by the dad himself to the table up on the stage in the main area of the school courtyard.  We were at the table near the cake and champagne glasses and the chocolate fountain.   We were also seated at the same table as the Department of Usulután’s ‘Diputado’ – (Representative).  Well then.  Didn’t we feel conspicuous?  Yes we did.

Fortunately there were people there we knew and enjoyed talking to.  Blanca talked ‘business’ with someone from one of our cantons most of the time we were there.  Cecilia and I joked and felt uncomfortable with a woman from another canton. 

The young lady was escorted in by at least 20 young men all in black with bright/light blue ties.  They did a dance routine while she and her father watched.  There was a for real emcee who introduced each activity.  She was presented a pair of shoes for the event.  Her mother ceremoniously placed them on her feet.  She gave some words of gratitude.  Her father gave a little speech in her honor.  There was another group dance and a receiving line for hugs for the dancers and her father.  The first real dance was with her father.  The next dance was for all the young (and not so young) men – people close to the family.   Then came the champagne toast (for family and god-parents, etc.  Then came the dinner.  Everyone was served – catered by the restaurant Cartagena from Alegría.  The rice, potato salad and chimol were good … but the beef was tough.  Even by Blanca and Cecilia’s standards!  They joked afterwards that they wanted to eat like polite society but when they looked over and saw the Deputy himself trying to rip apart the meat with his fingers, they felt relieved. 
view from the back.  It really was quite pretty!

The gentlemen escorting her in ... quite a bit of pomp

The cake

SOME of the crowd in the main section

The presentation of the birthday girl

The Usulutan Diputado

A dance number

We stayed a bit longer to be polite but we were all antsy to leave.  When a couple of other folks took their leave, we decided we could, too.  We said our good-byes and thank you/congratulations and walked back to the Pastoral House.

I’m glad we went … but I would much prefer the more humble celebrations.

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