Fiesta! Feliz Cumpleaño Viviana!

2006.Mar.12 Sunday · 6 comments

in Life

La Plata – Last night is a bit muzzy. I always wanted to use that word. After weeks and weeks of planning, Henry’s niece’s 15th cumpleaño finally came off with no more than the usual Latin American hitches. I should be used to the speed at which things get done and the nonchalance about timing, but I still find it difficult. Let’s start with, hmmm… the invitations, which I promised to share with you at some point. First the back of the envelope, then the cover and inside of the invitation itself.

The envelope for Viviana’s 15th cumpleano fiesta

Viviana’s 15th cumpleano fiesta invitation cover

Viviana’s 15th cumpleano fiesta invitation inside

I was happy with having put those together, but I must admit, I was truly happy with the dress design. It was a joint effort on the part of myself, Henry, and Viviana, but we came up with a custom designed dress, and some handcrafted jewelry to go with it. She and Henry worked out the hair thing together – not my forté.

Viviana in her 15th cumpleano dress Viviana in her 15th cumpleano dress

Mostly I’m just going to let the photos tell the story. The short version – the “standard” procedure for this fiesta in La Plata – the birthday girl, accompanied by her immediate family, head to the local Cathedral where they take pictures in front, inside, behind, on the side, on top, every which way they can. Then there’s a short walk across the central plaza to the municipalidad, or city hall. The same sort of thing. Then, depending on weather and timing, a walk (or drive) to any of several other important locales in time – some of the more important churches, other government buildings, etc. The idea, to be seen being introduced to the community as “a young lady.” And, of course, lots of photos. This was scheduled to begin last night between 7:30 and 8:00, giving an hour and a half or so until the fiesta began at 9:00; taking into account that most folks won’t arrive on time anyway.

I arrived at the catering hall around 7:00. The tables and chairs had been setup, but nothing else. A few people were sort of helping put it all together. Henry’s sister, and Viviana’s mom, Silvia, had just finished cooking the dinner for the 100+ guests… dinner was scheduled for around 11:00… but at least the food was ready. Sort of. As the family group, including myself piled into the car just prior to 8:00 to drive back to their house so they could change into the evening’s finery, she remembered that she hadn’t yet made the huancaina sauce for the potatoes. No biggie, 15 minutes work. Viviana sat down at the table to begin writing out her thank you notes to be presented during the evening (mmm… I printed her out the “stationary” on which to write them about two weeks ago) – an hour’s work. Everyone decided to take showers before dressing. And, what to wear? At 9:55, Henry’s sister, brother-in-law, and nephew piled back into the car to go back to the hall and deliver the sauce. Silvia and newphew stayed there. After all, an hour into the fiesta it seemed a good idea to have someone greeting guests.

Miguel returned with the car and a friend with a video camera. Henry, myself, and Viviana got in the back of the car and we headed for the Cathedral. 10:15. Twenty minutes there, much the same at city hall, then deciding where else was of interest. More photos. Head to a wholesaler for four bags of ice to pile in the trunk as there was none at the fiesta. Back to the house to fix a minor flaw in the dress. Back in the car, and finally arriving at the fiesta at 11:35. Splendid entrance by Viviana on Henry’s arm. Individual photos of her standing with every person in the room, in front of the cake. Individual photos of her dancing with every person in the room. A bit of dancing in general. Appetizer (papas a la huancaina) served around 1:30 (this is the morning now, remember). More dancing, some speechifying. Main course (remember it was finished cooking – meat and rice, left sitting out on the countertop – back at 7:00 in the evening) served around 2:30. More dancing, including Henry dancing the traditional Marinera with his partner Elizabeth and then with Viviana. Presentation of the thank you notes. Cutting and serving of the cake. 4:00. People gradually starting to drift out around 5:00. Henry and I left at 5:15, but I imagine the party was still going on for a few more hours.

On to the photos:

Viviana in front of the Cathedral
Viviana in front of the Cathedral (which, unfortunately, wasn’t open, so only photos outside – or is that fortunately?)

Viviana in front of city hall
Viviana in front of City Hall, which was open, so lots of photos inside too

Viviana in front of the Cultural Center
Viviana in front of the Cultural Center

Silvia outside waiting
Silvia waiting for us outside

Viviana and Henry making their entrance
Viviana and Henry make their entrance into the hall (he does look good in my tux, doesn’t he?)

Posing with her school girlfriends
Posing with her school girlfriends

The cake and gifts for guests
The cake and gifts for guests

Me dancing with Viviana
Me dancing with Viviana (I got to do something other than take 200 photos…)

Henry and Elizabeth dancing the marinera
Henry dancing the Marinera with Elizabeth

Henry and Viviana dancing the Marinera
Henry dancing the Marinera with Viviana

Blowing out the candles on the cake
Viviana makes her wish and blows out the candles

ksternberg March 13, 2006 at 00:02

All this for a birthday? Wow! I wonder what happens for a wedding. It looks like everything came together and everyone had a good time. Somehow, it makes me think of the film, “Big Night.”

dan March 13, 2006 at 08:57

It’s amazing how fast one becomes aculturated to something and forgets that most of the world doesn’t know about it. The 15th birthday for girls (and 18th for boys), throughout most, if not all, of Latin America, is sort of like a grand version of our “Sweet Sixteen” or a debutante’s “Coming Out” party. It’s the once in a lifetime grand birthday party introducing the young lady or man to local society. Historically, my understanding is that it was sort of the announcement of availability for marriage, though with modern laws and such that has slipped quietly into the distantly remembered past. The more impressive the party, and the more people who come, especially those who are not immediate family (they invited close to 200 people, roughly 100 came), the higher the youngster’s status in the community – some families save up for years to throw these – I can look at what went into this particular party and know that Silvia and Miguel probably spent several months worth of their combined wages, Henry chipped in the equivalent, which for him was probably 4-5 months worth of work, I sprang for the dress, shoes, and jewelry which would have been another month or two’s worth for them, and several relatives back in Peru and in Spain sent small contributions to help defray the costs.

It might have also helped if I’d written the post on more than four hours of sleep after a night of drinking.

ksternberg March 13, 2006 at 17:04

“It might have also helped if I’d written the post on more than four hours of sleep after a night of drinking.”

Really, Dan! And you, a trained professional.

dan March 13, 2006 at 17:29

Only in the drinking, not the sleeping.

stefani February 19, 2008 at 09:21

no te conosco y sin quere vine a tu pagina y ahunq no nos hablemos ni nada sales vasilona en las fotos quiero decir q sales rilax bien chakeamos

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