May 13, 2009

Feliz Cumpleaños

We had a birthday celebration at the Minera Boleo office for Señora Jueves and Don Diego. Nobody sang happy birthday, but we ate lots of food. There was a big long sheet cake decorated with tiny slices of jalapeno pepper on the top it; this was accompanied by crema de salchicha (a kind of spicy dip made with sour cream and hot dogs that had been blended to a liquid); refried beans with cheese; a macaroni salad with chopped ham and vegetables; and a green salad. It turns out the cake was actually 4 by 7 rows of chicken sandwiches on white bread, crusts removed, abutted to one another to form a “cake” with a “frosting” of cheese melted in milk. After all that food was consumed it was time for the real cakes.

There were two other 10-inch round sweet chocolate cakes with white frosting, one for each birthday person. No candles, but the birthday person faces the cake and leans over it and someone behind them whacks their head into the cake. No kidding. In Don Diego’s case his girlfriend was visiting from Mexicali and she forced him to put a big dent in it. In Señora Jueves’ case she just barely grazed the cake. The cakes were sliced and passed around the room.

Then as we drove up to Ensenada on our trip back to Denver, the restaurant we ate in had a large party of Mexicans celebrating a birthday. Interestingly they sang happy birthday in English first, and then they sang the Mexican version of happy birthday about three times throughout the meal. This song is usually sung to the birthday person outside their door at the crack of dawn. It is called Las Mañanitas and goes like this:

"This is the morning song that King David sang
Because today is your saint's day we're singing it for you
Wake up, my dear, wake up, look it is already dawn
The birds are already singing and the moon has set.

How lovely is the morning in which I come to greet you
We all came with joy and pleasure to congratulate you
The morning is coming now, the sun is giving us its light
Get up in the morning, look it is already dawn."

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