As we had planned last week, the Little Businessman and Co. joined me for dinner. Mateo, Cecilia, and their mother shed, for two hours, their boxes, and we ate, drank, and made merry. We toasted to health: Salud. And, we pretend our watermelon agua fresca was beer, become borrachos (drunks) at one point to the delight of our patient waiter who was, at first, unsure why we were all there. I told him we were celebrating our birthdays. He asked which one of us, and we all volunteered.
Originally they wanted tortas, but the restaurant didn’t have tortas. We settled for tlayudas, giant pizza/quesadilla like concoctions that were delicious with our “beer.” The tlayudas can be eaten by hand, so can the tortas that they wanted, so can tacos. I realized as I saw Augustino struggling with a fork and Mateo stabbing at the fries with his knife and fork that these are foreign tools to them — just as the pen was at Christmastime. I’d seen them use a spoon to eat ice cream when it became a creamy soup or when they wanted to fish an ice cube out of their coffee, but knives and forks are a whole separate matter.
I brought each of them gifts. Julio got a balloon, some cottage cheese containers I recycled as blocks, and a satin pillowcase I’d brought on the last trip. He loved the red satin fabric the most. He kept saying, “Mio, mio” (Mine). Mateo got a flip book that makes a variety of animals and presents what the words represent. He gasped at the sight of the book and took photos of as many of the combinations of animals as he could concoct. He also got a backpack that he’d been eyeing since I first brought it to the zocalo. Augustino received a bubble machine that has lights and music, a CRC shirt and ball cap. I gave the mother a bag of lotions, some bracelets, earrings, and a cosmetic-size bag made of blue oilcloth with flowers. Cecilia got a red oilcloth bag, a tee from my school, a new doll (with both legs and her clothes intact) and some doll clothes, including three knee-high black boots (one for the more distressed muneca).
Cristobal and an anonymous kid showed up late (they’re at the end of the table in our photo); we ordered them some fries and shared some of our beer.
It was nice to be with them. The mom (seriously, I still don’t know her name!) interrogated me about my life and about M, asking about children, finances (really), whether we might have a house in Oaxaca. I asked her if she was planning more children, how old she is (31), what she likes to do (she’s devoted to making a living for her family). The kids told me she doesn’t read Spanish (she speaks an indigenous dialect); I offered that I don’t read Spanish very well either.
I was so full I didn’t even need to eat. They seemed the same way; they took four large boxes home. When I started packing the boxes in the bag I brought all of the things in, they thought I was taking the food! I said that this was their bag now to lug all of the things. Cecilia grabbed it, packed full, and said she’d haul it home (a two-hour walk) if it was hers.
I promised to see them every night until I head home.