Feliz Navidad!!

Trip Start Aug 30, 2011
Trip End Dec 30, 2011

Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines

Flag of Colombia  ,
Saturday, December 24, 2011

The 24th is the big day to celebrate Christmas in most Latin American cultures, and Colombia is no exception. After our ice cream outing for Isabella's birthday we all slept/lounged around for the majority of the morning. I was expecting to go to Grandma’s in the early afternoon, for that’s what I had been told, but when I asked again today I was informed that we would not be leaving until later that evening. I was fine with the change in plans since I still had some things to do for Christmas, the beach, and my departure to the States. I also squeezed in an hour at Club Polo to use my last hole-punch and say my good bye to all my gym friends. It was bitter sweet. They all asked me to send them wealthy American boyfriends upon my next visit, and I told them I would do my best. When I returned to the house Mami and Papi were just returning from some very last minute shopping. In the living room Papi was wrapping his gifts in colored tissue paper. Each gift was a different color and a contrasting stripe of a different color to add some decoration, and when Papi so intelligently angled his stripe on a diaganol he held it up for everyone to adore. Its these types of little things that continue to catch my attention and make me smile about the little things in life. I have never been more appreciative of real wrapping paper since it’s durability allows you to arrange tape; a few times I completely destroyed my gifts and had to ask for assistance. I had planned ahead for most of the ladies in the family, but still was missing gifts for the men in the family, but at as long I had something for Papi I was ok. Finally, I finished my wrapping and we all began preparing ourselves for the night. Each family member had their brand new outfit that they had been saving for this special occasion and we looked quite glamorous.

We loaded out gifts into the trunk of the car and Papo worked diligently to put everything in a precise order to ensure it would stay put. It was just as I’m used to: Tati, Isabella, and I in the backseat with a few of isabella’s toys and Mami and Papi in the front. Sining "Navidad De Los Pobres" we made it to Grandma’s in fifteen minutes (five mnutes faster that usual due to zero traffic). Nando’s car was out front, leaving the garage open for gifts and chairs. The gifts were categorized by giver and divided among three tables. I have yet to figure out why the garage is so desired for gatherings. Despite the comfortable sofas and decorated Christmas tree in the living room, everyone still prefers the garage. Perhaps the openness is more desired. The ambience of the rest of the neighborhood is certainly attractive. “Polvo” (poppers and small fireworks) are constantly going off and the loud pops can be heard over the blaring salsa music. Christmas lights shine in all colors and children are running wild. The only way to contain Isabella was by informing her it was time for “La Novena”. For this specific fifteen minutes we utilized the intimacy of the “la sala” (living room) to chant the traditional songs and celebrate the last day of the nine-day holiday.

Then the countdown to midight began. Isabella anxiously awaited the arrival of “nino dios”. Nino Dios is not Papa Noel (Santa Claus) but Baby Jesus. Nino Dios does not deliver gifts like Saint Nick. At precisely five to midnight none of the children are to enter the house, or they may scare him off. When the adults sense that Nino Dios has come and gone, Isabella is given permission to charge the doors and scream at the top of her lungs when there is a new Nintendo DS sitting on the bed. This marks the start of the gift giving. Isabella was then to receive walkie-talkies, a baby doll, movies, jewelry, and too many gifts to keep track of. I felt bad for her neighbor friend who was thrilled with her new small stuffed puppy until Isabella bragged all her new, fancy toys. Thankfully, in the spirit of Christmas she was kind enough to share.

While the little ones were playing, us older folk did our own gift giving. The TV and speaker system was dragged into Grandma’s bedroom (which connects to the garage) and a microphone was connected to the system. Each gift giver had their turn with the mic and called out the names on each package. “Que descape!” (Unwrap it!) was chanted and everyone watched as the paper was torn off (it doesn’t matter that you can already see your gift through the thin tissue). It was a lively hour of cheering, check kissing, and gratitude. I was surprised food was not a more important element. We casually munched on heavily buttered mashed potatoes, fruit salad, and slices of deli ham. I was not surprised, however, that Aguardiente was a big part of the evening. Papi kept things flowing. It was about two a.m. when I had enough of Nando’s pestering and was too tired to keep up with the quick, slurred Spanish.

In my four months of being here I have never given into my tiredness and rested in the guest room when I got sleepy, but tonight I wasn’t even offered, I just went. Fully clothed, shoes included, I laid down and was asleep instantly. Isabella joined me around three a.m. and Tatianna around four. At ten a.m. I entered the kitchen to Grandma’s cooking. Now it was really the 25th of December, and still nothing like what I am used to in the States. If I were at home I would have been helping in the kitchen to prepare grits, scrambled eggs, bisquits, and other delicious treasts for an intriquite Christmas breakfast; however, Colombian style Christmas breakfast was reheated leftovers and eating in the sunshine. Soon the others awoke, ate their breakfast, and began gathering their new gifts. I said my final goodbyes to my extended family and we shared a few tears. Mamita told me she still expects weekly phone calls and I promised not to disappoint.

It doesn’t seem real that I won’t be seeing them for a while. I feel as though next weekend I’ll get in Papi’s car and endure the twenty minute journey to Manrique (Grandma’s neighborhood) and be greeted with Grandma’s wet kiss. That seems much more realistic to me than being back in the states. Five days. Wow. It won’t hit me until I’m actual back in my winter wonderland that I have been here in Colombia, living the life. However, until then I plan on enjoying each day and soaking up the sun. I head to the beach tonight with Camilo and his family- going out with a bang!
Slideshow Report as Spam
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • You must enter a comment
  • You must enter your name
  • You must enter a valid name (" & < > \ / are not accepted).
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: