The other day, Rey walked in and told me that one of the guys he does mechanical work for had invited him to his son's birthday. He thought we should go, and obviously bring a present. Oh, and the party was that afternoon.
"Oh, yeah? How old is the son?"
"I don't know."
"Oh, what's the son's name?"
"I'm not sure."
"What does the son like?"
"I don't know."
"There must be food at the party."
"Yes. I think there's going to be a lot of food."
"Ohhh! Now I understand!" ;)
So, while Rey called his friend Hugo to get the necessary details for successful gift selection, I got the kiddos ready to go to the "amigos" party. We stopped by the Dollar Store to grab a gift (while I was paying for the gift, the cashier held on to the receipt and asked if I was married. "Yes." "Oh, well, you're still beautiful anyways." Ok? So, it was already a weird afternoon.).
We pulled up to an big abandoned-looking house on the south side of town. It appeared to have been built in the early 1900's and was probably beautiful at that time. Now, the screen door hung open, some screens on the house were broken out. All the lights on the first floor were turned off. "Are we sure this is the right house?" But, as we stood at the door waiting, we could hear the far-off sound of the steady tuba beat, so we knew we had to at least be close to the party.
We ended up letting ourselves in to the darkened house.... "Hola? Hola?"
Soon enough, someone walked past and saw us. "Oh, hello! Come on in, the party's in the basement!"
So, we walked through the dark, sparsely-furnished house--sheets tacked over the windows. "This is my brother's house," Hugo explained, "It's bigger than ours, so he let us use it."
He led us down the narrow, steep cement basement stairs into an explosion of light, sound, movement and color. It was incredible. There were 2 actual taco stands down there. Like, right off the streets of Mexico taco stands. Large boxes on wheels with glass windows, men chopping rapid-fire at piles of meat, cilantro and onions--smoke rising from the sizzling meat and filling the basement. The banda music sent out a steady beat, the volume making any kind of communication impossible--unless you shouted into a person's ear.
The basement was divided in 2 by a cement wall. On one side were the taco stands, on the other several long tables were set up, filled with people. The cement block walls were painted neon green, balloons and streamers taped to the walls. There were perhaps 3-4 different disco/club-type balls hanging from the ceiling. The kind that shine different kinds of lights around, or different light shows, on the cement walls, floors and ceilings. It was crazy.
The tables were filled with different snacks and kinds of beers in bottles. The adults quietly imbibed as they watched the children chase the light beams around the room, or bob to the loud music.
At one point, Rey pulled me to the side to say I needed to change spots because the drunk guy across the table had a staring problem. That's never happened before. The weirdness continued.
With the loudness of it all, the fact we knew no one didn't even matter. No one was really talking anyways. The tacos were pretty awesome.
The bathroom was upstairs on the main floor, so whenever the kiddos needed to go potty--we would again experience that mind-boggling difference between the basement and the main floor. It was as if by ascending out of and descending into the basement we could travel back and forth between countries in a matter of seconds. It was almost too much to process! We would stand in the dark, silent main floor of the house, waiting our turn for the bathroom--hearing a soft, steady beat through the floor... and then, when we were finished, walk back down the stairs into... another world!
I guess the experience just made me smile. When we had the kids in Mexico, I'd often think about how different their childhood experiences would be from my own childhood experiences. Now that we are in the US, there are more things in common with my childhood... but I know I never experienced a party like that growing up! Culture is so fun. :)