Apparently working with three different groups of kids, although exhausting, has its benefits. Other than getting to know some sweet individuals, and having almost every kid in the neighborhood greet you when you walk by, of course (it's a small town). Because, when it comes to birthdays, you get to have multiple parties! And you can't beat celebrating with kids...it's just loads of fun. There's bound to be games, balloons, singing, adorable poems and cards, and craziness. And don't forget CAKE. Lots and lots of cake.
In short, I wasn't at all sure of what I would do for my birthday this year, and I didn't make a big deal of it. But my friends, neighbors, and students clearly didn't forget. If there is one thing about children, it is that they love surprises. And hey, so do I! That being said, I could not have possibly imagined a better 25th birthday. And I didn't imagine any of it because it was all a surprise! Here are some of the fun celebrations we had:
On Thursday my 7th grade English class surprised me with a birthday banquet: an Ecuadorian tradition for birthdays which involved chips, candies, and cake being passed around the class. They even sang Happy Birthday to me in English! :) And of course, they made me bite the cake and smashed my face into it (another Ecuadorian tradition)!
On Friday after coming back home to get ready for tutoring, I saw Sara standing in the church, kids all around her putting up balloons. She came all the way from Quito to throw me a birthday party! We played games and some kids shared poems or songs that they knew.
At church on Sunday, I thought the celebrations for done. But Pastor Blanca had planned another special day - we ate cake with the congregation and they prayed for me.
But perhaps the best of all, the icing on the cake, you might say: After church, Blanca told me we were going on a trip. I needed to bring warm clothes and a bathing suit. I thought, where could we be going?? We piled into the car with a family from church and I couldn't contain my excitement anymore. I had to ask where we were headed. The answer: the Ilinizas, two mountains close to our town. We drove for about an hour on quite likely the worst road I have ever seen (filled with pot-holes and huge cracks and gaps in the road...at one point there was even a sign advising that cars not pass any further. But did that stop us? No!). Finally we arrived at a parking lot and hiking up for 15 minutes to arrive at some natural hot springs! The air outside was freezing but we stayed in the hot pool for over an hour...so refeshing. I even found a penny in the pool - good luck on my birthday! The surprise day trip was a wonderful way to finish the weekend. Here we are enjoying the water:
Thank you to everyone here in Ecuador for making my birthday special! Muchas gracias!