I live with a local family, just off of the compound. It's often an interesting experience; there are about 9 kids in the family, although it's not at all uncommon for a couple of extras to appear for a few days. My schedule at the hospital (ok, more like my poor time management skills) sometimes makes it difficult to spend an appropriate amount of time with them, so this week, after a week of working nights and barely seeing them, it's nice to spend more time there.
The other evening I arrived at home, and was promptly presented with an invitation to a birthday party scheduled for the next day. I don't think that birthday parties are common here, so it was kind of a big event. The next morning, my sister asked me if I knew how to make a birthday cake. Unfortunately, I said yes. And further, I agreed to help her make one for the party. Now, excellent cooking skills are in my blood (and by that I mean my family), but my personal cooking skills often leave something to be desired. I contribute this mostly to the fact that I don't tend to use precision in the kitchen. I mean, I know about how much a teaspoon is, so why bother actually getting out the measuring spoons and dirtying them? Anyway, I can cook, but baking isn't much my thing.
After I agreed to make the cake and told my sister what ingredients we would need, it occurred to me that I had never successfully made a cake in my life.
Anyway, the cake was almost a success. The frosting was far from successful. The combined result was quite mediocre. Oh well. I think everyone liked it, and for at least some of them it was probably the first time they had eaten birthday cake. So they didn't know what was missing.
The party itself started in the mud afternoon and lasted through most of the evening. When I arrived with the cake, there were already a few kids there, dancing to the radio. We blew up balloons and hung them everywhere, ate candy, and radio continued its serenade. In total, there were over 40 kids there. And maybe 5 parents. There was food and cake, and then dancing.
I think that dancing comes almost as naturally as walking here. My nine year old sister can (and did) dance for hours, effortlessly. She's tiny and graceful. I love watching her. It seems to be an important part of every celebration. And sometimes of everyday life, too. It's almost like its the preferred form of expression. I like it.
As I sat watching the many dancers with interest, I received several invitations to join them. I replied by telling them that I don't know how to dance. Which is completely true. But when one of the ladies literally pulled me to my feet and gave me no choice, it became really fun. I still don't know how to dance, but I had so much fun. Especially because it was dark, and we were outside in the beautiful, fresh evening. It rained on and off, so we alternated between the veranda and the courtyard. After awhile, Chantelle, a little girl who is probably about 6, took my hand and wouldn't let go. She didn't care that I don't know how to dance. :)