Fiesta de la Piñata – Piñata Party

The first time I met Martha, I was a bit stunned.

I mean, it’s not every day I meet a young, vibrant Mexican woman in a full hijab.

Martha, born and raised in the fishing village of Bahia Kino, was searching for something deeper in her life and looked to religion. She found what she wanted in the Muslim faith.

She studied the Koran online and learned passable Arabic. She began to going to Hermosillo to pray in the mosque rather than to shop for clothes.

But there she was, office manager, the first time I entered the office at Islandia Marina in Kino Viejo, smiling and welcoming me in English.

Over the years, we became friends and I saw her meet Mohamed, a Moroccan man who spoke Spanish. She married Mohamed, and had a beautiful baby, Ryan Mohamed, who is now almost three. Martha continues her job as office manager and Mohamed has found a job in town.

My partner and I are in Kino through the holidays and Martha invited us to her parents’ home last night for a piñata party for the kids. “Five o’clock” she said.

In typical Mexican fashion, we arrived around 6:30 to find the festivities not quite yet underway. Martha told us the party was going to be a bit low key since right across the street a family was holding a wake and they didn’t want the party to interfere. Still, the stuffed piñata hung from the tree.

And it was not just a piñata party. We soon learned there would be a complete barbacoa, a sort of Mexican barbecue in which very thin slices of meat are grilled over wood, usually mesquite, then chopped and stuffed into fresh, warm tortillas.

There were five small children in attendance, and about seven teen and pre-teen girls, all ages eleven to seventeen, who were great hams and jumped in front of my camera at every opportunity.

IMG_7999

Margarita, Martha and Alfredo were okay with photos, too.

IMG_8001

Soon, however, the fire was lit – after a quick dash to Margarita’s house for charcoal lighter.

Margarita lit the fire.      margarita+fire

It was well guarded.      guarding fire

And the fire was used for a quick warmup.     warming hands

But it was finally about ready for the meat.     fire

Martha filled the tea kettle so people could have tea or coffee.

martha+water      The women retired to the kitchen to prepare salsa and guacamole toppings.

making salsa.

The meat, however, is the man’s domain.

meat prep    grill prep

grill meat

Two of Mohamed’s Moroccan friends from Hermosillo came to the party. They are both graduate students at the university. Abraham, Mohamed’s childhood friend, studies Spanish and is currently polishing his thesis and studying for his final exams which are coming up in February.                                                                             Abraham    Abraham speaks five languages including his native berber dialect. Aris is studying linguistics and is far more comfortable with Chomsky’s theories than I am (try it sometime if you want to be totally confounded).

Abraham and Aris arrived and immediately retired,with Mohamed, for evening prayers, then rejoined the small crowd in the front yard.

As the fire settled into coals, it was time for the piñata. The little children were lined up by size, smallest first.

blindfold  Aris  Aris   stood on a chair and Martha’s father  roof   hopped up on a four-foot-tall block wall, onto a shed, then up on his neighbor’s roof.

He and Aris would hold the piñata, pulling it up, down and sideways while the blindfolded children swung at it with a long stick.

hit pinata    Each child got several swings, and finally it was the eleven-year-old who smashed through the piñata, spilling candies, little plastic toys, and nuts onto the ground.

The candies and toys and even a few of the nuts were scooped up by the children.

The dogs polished off the leftover nuts.  dog

There were uses for parts of the opened piñata. hat

Finally, all the meat was grilled and chopped, and the condiments were set outside on a small table.condiments Notice the girls inserting them into even this photo.

Martha skillfully created soft tacos of frijoles (mashed pinto beans often with a bit of cheese) and chopped barbacoa.  make taco

The other women carried plate after plate to the adult males. Then I was served, then the boys and girls and then the women served themselves.

We continued with stories and laughter for the next forty-five minutes or so. Then we saw the family gathered around the Christmas tree inside, forming a large arc around it. All were there, from toddlers through grandparents, holding hands. That is when we quietly left.

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