I've always gotten the feeling that birthdays aren't really the important occasion in Bolivia that they are for us in the USA. As volunteers, I know we always make sure birthdays are celebrated at Casa de Amor but I often feel like the staff doesn't really keep up with the birthdates of the kids (but maybe because they know the volunteers are always on top of it?!). I hadn't mentioned my upcoming birthday, but everyone seemed to know it was coming up.
All of the tías, other volunteers, and kids have gone above and beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I've been surprised with birthday celebrations literally all day long. I couldn't be more thankful for the people I'm surrounded by here in Cochabamba!
I was sent out of the baby house yesterday before lunch and told not to come back until it was dark outside (after Nilda's baby shower). Tía Silvia had big plans to make me a cake but didn't want me in the house so she enlisted Sarah's help in keeping me away.
This morning before breakfast, I knew something was up. Ely showed up on her day off and Claudia and Yovana just hung around instead of leaving at 8am like they normally would after a night shift. Then, they brought out a cake!
I think this picture is hilarious! Do you see what Silvia is passing to Lucy?! Anyone who has been in Bolivia on his/her birthday will know what is about to happen!
And then out of nowhere I became covered in eggs and flour, a Bolivian birthday tradition!
I think I need to steer clear of her if I'm in Bolivia on my next birthday… She's been in charge of putting eggs in my hair for the past two birthdays.
Tía Silvia admiring her handiwork
She's always the mastermind behind everything!
The kids are so lucky to have such great tías but I'm pretty blessed by them as well!
Baby C. and Nayeli were completely traumatized by the whole egg/flour event. Baby C. fusses any time someone merely hugs me, but Nayeli really went berserk. Silvia and I play fight quite a bit and she never likes it, but this apparently took it to a whole new level… She SCREAMED while they were doing it.
Five minutes later she still hadn't quite recovered from the trauma she witnessed :)
I thought the celebration was finished after the cake, but then they handed me this card and little box. The card is below, and the little box had a heart necklace in it. I always wear a necklace so it really was a very thoughtful gift! I was told that everyone chipped in to buy it and whenever I wear it, it'll be a reminder that even if we're not together, I'll always be in their hearts and them in mine. It couldn't be more true… I'll never forget them.
The card they wrote/made… It sounds much better in Spanish so I'm not going to translate it.
My mom sent balloons and party blowers… The kids LOVED them! They shared them amazingly well.
These two especially loved the party blowers!
The younger ones enjoyed the balloons more!
Tía Silvia made sopa de maní, one of my favorite Bolivian foods and the only soup I'll ever request, for lunch. Then, Tías Yovana, Claudia, and Ely took me out a little bit later in the afternoon for a second lunch. I still can't quite figure out what we ate (pictured above), but I was told it was a "small chicken."
After Horita Feliz, I went over to House 2 to pick up my phone charger that I'd left and was surprised with ANOTHER party! The boys made these posters in preparation.
Sarah made cookies with the boys. Edgar made this special one for me. It doesn't show up well in the picture, but he carved an "H" in the middle. It was also much bigger than the other cookies.
The plate on the left contained all of the burned cookies… We joked about calling them dark chocolate cookies and then gave them to all the kids who quickly finished them off. The plate on the right had the cookies that the tías/other adults ate.
Sarah also made this cake… After having my face pushed into it and basically held down, I'll forever have horrible memories ;)
The Boohers brought over this ice cream cake! It was my first ice cream cake in Bolivia (Tía Silvia always wants me to make one for a kid's birthday, but I never have), and it was really yummy!
I even got a clown at my party!
The kids (except Saret) love having clowns and thought it was so great that Emily dressed up as one!
The obligatory cumpleañera and birthday cake picture!
The kids were pretty excited about ice cream cake!
These next two pictures are horrible quality but you can see what happened when biting the cake. The big kids couldn't love this tradition more. I'm pretty sure all of them had a hand in not only pushing my face into the cake but then also holding my head down. It was a bit much.
As you can see, I didn't actually bite the cake. It was all in my hair, eyes and on my face but I don't think a single bite ever made it into my mouth!
As a side note, my mom also sent me a box of gifts that I've rationed opening ever since I made it back home tonight. I don't have pictures but I can assure you it'll all be put to great use!!