Today is a first for us… Celebrating the completion of a brand new roof! We had no such celebration when we built our house in Los Altos. These Panamanians just love to celebrate and they seem to find any excuse for a Fiesta! This is just one small thing that I love about living here in Central America. Scott & I fit in just fine here, we too love a party! Although, truth be told, I could do without the Cow stomach soup! This could have fit in nicely for our Halloween Parties thought! Hah! Actually, I jest, I also really love the fact that they not only have a traditional celebration for a new roof, but a traditional dish to serve for the celebration! We too have certain dishes that are often reserved for celebrations, Turkey for Thanksgiving, Ham for Easter, and Hamburgers and Hot dogs for the 4th of July. So who's to say a little cow stomach soup is so odd for celebrating a shiny new roof! I'm really excited to do something special for our 7 workers who show up 6 days a week and work side by side with Scott to build our new home.
Although….Scott couldn’t host a party without preparing a little something special to serve along with the traditional fare. If he had the time, l’m pretty sure he would have given the Mondongo a go, but instead he’s made up a delicious pork dish. He makes a Braised pork in a 6 pepper sauce dish that I think is so yummy. Served up with a big pot of beans and some warm tortillas with shredded cheese and sour cream. And with my new domesticated skills ( eye roll! ) I made my own contribution, brownies and peanut butter, chocolate chip cookies. This morning we are going to divide and conquer! Scott’s mission is to pick up the 5 cases of chilled beer and ice before he picks up all the guys. I am going to pick up the Mondongo and rice and Platanos from Central Park Restaurant and head up the hill. We are also bringing a big pitcher of Ice Tea, water, and wine. I have lot’s of plastic plates and silverware, napkins, chairs to sit on, and of course Music.
Scott and the guys like to jokingly call me the “Jefa”…Of course I like that! So given the fact that I embrace that title with gusto, I have prepared a very short but sweet speech. Of course I’ll do my best to say it in Spanish…” Hoy Celebramos este nuevo techo. Sin el techo solo tenemos un piso y las paredes, pero con el techo tenemos una casa. Un lugar donde pronto vivir. También quiero celebrar a todos ustedes y expresar mi gratitud por todo el trabajo duro que están haciendo para ayudar a hacer una casa en Panama.¨ I hope that´s right… I know it’s going overboard but I also wanted to give them a small gift , aside from the Mondongo. So I had Scott find out all their shoe sizes and I went and got them all a new pair of work boots. The work boots that most of them wear everyday are so old and many of them are falling apart. They all have families and I imagine a pair of new work boots is not high on the list of priorities. I know from experience that when your on your feet all day it’s essential to have good shoes. Happy feet makes happy workers! And Happy Workers makes a very happy Jefa! Hah! Let’s just hope they don’t expect new work boots for the next two celebrations we have for our other two roofs! Pfffffft!
I’ll be back later to finish this post and update you on how it went.
The Next Morning, while I’m drinking my coffee….
Okay…I gotta tell ya’, our first mondogada was a success! I’m pretty sure all our workers felt thoroughly satisfied with the celebration. Fun was had by all, including myself and Kat and the big Jefe himself, Scott. We had invited our realtor who said he was coming but didn’t show up and our architect who never responded to our invitation so we had a few extra portions of mondongo, but our guys took care of that, no problem. Boy, they really love that dish! They ate with such gusto! And let me tell you, they also drank the 5 cases of beer with equal gusto! Which prompted much dancing and joking around and conversation was flowing, conversation which I must admit was mostly lost on me! Hah! When I’m struggling to understand whats being said to me , “spanish drunk talk” makes my comprehension much more sketchy! They really appreciated the new work boots and my speech seemed to bring a smile to those faces.
As the evening progressed a funny game (of sorts) began to evolve revolving around the chairs I had brought. I only had 6 chairs and there were 8 men, counting Scott. So when one would get up to get another beer whoever was relegated to sitting on a bucket or a stack of bricks would immediately jump up and take the abandoned chair, laughs and fist bumps would break out all around each time this happened. But….none would take Scotts chair! It was very funny! When Scott got up I pointed to his chair , indicating they should steal it and all began to laugh as they shook their heads NOOOOO! Hah! They refused to take Scott’s chair! Too funny! I enjoyed seeing their sense of humor come out as the night wore on. There was a lot of talk of different types of music and dancing. Edgar, our youngest worker , he just turned 21, loves to dance! As does Arquiles , our oldest guy , and Ricardo who is the same age as us. They all love music and very different styles, Ricardo is a huge fan of Blues and classic Rock, Arquiles is all about Typico latin music and Edgar is a Rap and Electronico Aficionado! We brought our Blue Tooth speaker to play music we have on our tablet but the Blue Tooth was soon hijacked by Leo who quickly became the “DJ” of the evening. It seemed his collection of music on his smartphone was much more preferred than Scotts collection, no problem! May I say, Kat had to leave relatively early and I was the only woman there for the remainder of the evening, and boy did I get my exercise for the evening. When these latin men start dancing there’s really no stopping them! And may I add, dancing in hiking boots is not great on the ol’ feet! Sheesh! My poor feet were killing me by the end of the evening! And my Zumba class seems mellow compared to the dancing these guys were demonstrating. And in case your wondering, no, the big Jefe is not a dancer! He had a great time B.S.ing with the guys and watching his loco esposa trying to keep up with the dancing. I had a blast!
Our celebration began at 12:00 and by 6:00P.M. I could tell that they had had enough alcohol (Not that they thought they had had enough….) and It was a good time to start packing it up and calling it a wrap. Good thing none of them have cars and Scott is always good at pacing himself with his beer consumption so he and I were ready to be the two designated drivers. We figured given the fact that we had brought 5 cases of beer and it was all gone, they may have each consumed around 15 beers a piece, give or take! So we now had 7 happily toasted Panamanians on our hands..oh boy! Hah! All of whom wanted to be dropped off at the bar down in town. Scott said they begged him to join them but he simply told them that the Jefa would not be happy and that was that. I have a feeling there would be some very unhappy esposas at the end of the night….Yikes! Especially given the fact that they all had envelopes of cash from just being paid for the weeks work! Ooooops! Well, the bar owners would be happy! Hah!
We have two more structures to build so this first Mondogada was our warm-up for the next two, I don’t think I’d do it any differently next time. Although… It might be a good idea to try not combining it with payday…hah! I bet a few Panamanian wives would greatly appreciate that. Or, better yet, we should consider inviting the wives, that way they can be in charge of the envelopes of cash and they can help me keep up with all the dancing! I’ll have to think about that… All in all I’m gonna call our celebration a success!>