One of the best things about blogging is the great new friends you meet. A Panamanian man living in the US has left many helpful comments, and over the months we have kept in touch occasionally by email as well. He is a teacher so he and his family have used their summer break to visit his family here in Chriqui.
They came to David one day so we got together for lunch and had a great time getting to know each other in person. He also invited me to his daughter’s first birthday party, and of course I wasn’t going to pass up such a nice invitation.
What a pleasure and an honor to celebrate with his extended family, and to be able to meet all of them! We had such a good time. It’s also very interesting to see the similarities and differences between a birthday parties here and in the US. As it usually happens, there are many more similarities than differences.
One difference though is no one shows up at the appointed time. We arrived at noon and were the only guesses there for a while. Guests were still arriving three hours later. But that gave us time to talk a bit more and to admire the birthday girl who is so adorable!
Everyone was given a drink on arrival. When there were enough guests present, lunch was served – arroz con pollo (rice with chicken, which I was told is usually served at all celebrations in this area) and a potato dish, sort of like potato salad but warm and with chicken, really delicious.
It was interesting to see that everyone who arrived greeted everyone there, including us even though no one knew who we were. As the afternoon went on though, we we’re introduced to the other guests or struck up conversations on our own. We met my friend’s parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and neighbors.
After everyone ate and had time to visit, it was time for dessert. The happy birthday song is the same tune, just “compleanos feliz” instead of “happy birthday”. Dessert was an excellent cake and ice cream.
Next was the piñata, something that isn’t done much in the US. This one was a number 1 strung up on a rope. The birthday girl took the first swing at it with her dad’s help. Then the rest of the kids and any adults who wanted to participate swung at the piñata while someone raised it and lowered it out of reach to make the game more challenging. Eventually though the piñata succumbed and candy started to fall out of the hole in the bottom. After the kids collected the first pieces one of the adults finished by shaking the rest of the candy out on all the tables. No one went home hungry!
Then, after some more conversation the party started to wind down and guests made their goodbyes, again greeting everyone on their way out.
We had such a good time! Internet friends are great but it’s wonderful to be able to spend time face to face. I was really honored to share this time with the family and meet so many nice people. Everywhere we go we are made to feel so welcome and this was no exception. Thank you my friend for spending time with me, for introducing us to your family, and for including us in your celebration! I’m already looking forward to your visit next year 🙂