June 3, 2016.
On Wednesday, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that it was “National Day of the Children”, here in Ecuador!
We took a bumpy open air taxi to the other side of town and arrived at the local fire station.
It was supposed to begin at 2 pm and we were few minutes early… well, let’s say we’ll never do that again, arrive early that is! 🙂
We struggled to keep our kids occupied while we waited well over an hour before the first activity began. All of the other Ecuadorian kids.. seemed to be completely fine and entertained with sitting in a plastic chair. We need to adapt to these type of situations and learn to just relax and embrace this lifestyle. Maybe it’s time to recognize that events start an hour past the posted time.
Our 2-year-old, Monkey, was happy to provide a little entertainment to the growing crowd. He hopped and danced near the front, without fear or shyness, clapped and squealed with delight over balloons and smiling faces. He flirted with the girls and grabbed the hands of the boys, and had a merry old-time with nothing more than the wiles of himself. None the less, he exhausted all of his energies before the dawn of the event.. and crashed into a sleepless lump on Daddy’s lap, just minutes before the official ascent of the fiesta.
Once the festivities began, it was nothing but good old-fashioned fun. Baskets of candy were passed around the crowd of children, much like an offering plate that is passed around the congregation of a church in small town USA.
A clown hopped around, singing, dancing and teasing the children. Games were organized near the center of the crowd. The youngsters scrambled to the clearing for their chance to be picked for participation in musical chairs, a dancing game, and an activity where the kids had to balance an egg on a spoon hanging from their mouth.
Our daughter, Peanut, begged for us to catapult her through the crowd to be first in line for any activity. She was delighted to have been chosen for the dancing contest. In this particular activity, 5 or 6 girls were chosen to stand in a line on top of their own newspaper. They were instructed to dance, without falling off the paper until the music stopped. Any child that let their feet touch the dirt was eliminated.
In each subsequent round, the newspaper was then folded in half to give each girl less of a platform. This group of girls ranged in age between approximately 3 and 8. We were so impressed by our daughter’s enthusiasm and immersion into the event. We have to assume that she did not understand much of what was being said or sang, but it was irrelevant to her delight. My husband, Carlos, did translate the instructions to her. She seemed perfectly willing to listen to his translations, and yet seemed undeterred by the Spanish mayhem surrounding her. She danced her little white-girl heart out to the content and amusement of all, and she even won! 🙂
She beamed with pride and a grin stretched from ear to ear, while gleefully accepting her prizes of a mango chocolate lollipop, two black and gold hair bands, and a sparkling toy tiara.
We had to sneak out a little early to make it to our own opening day event at the new INFiERNO gym. While we may have missed a few of the final events, the several hours we spent at the fire station were plenty enough to satisfy the hearts of our very young. We took some time on the way out, to let the children climb and take photos with the village’s new fire engine.