In February when we finalized our plans to be in Bolivia for Elias’ birthday, I think Remberto and Esther started planning his party as soon as we finished the conversation. Lol!
From the decorations to the party favors to the food, it was so humbling to see how the church came together to throw Elias the most perfect party.
And what humbled me the most was to know that one of the moms had lost a pregnancy 6 years prior, and her baby’s due date was the exact day of Elias’ birthday. As she was helping to prepare for the party, she shared her story with me, and we just cried together. I couldn’t believe her selflessness as she said that throwing this party for Elias was like God healing another part of her grief.
This party was absolutely perfect for Elias. It had everything that he loves: puppies, other kids, balloons, music, food and cake!
And a new experience: a piñata!
Piñatas in Bolivia are different from the ones in Mexico. They are cylinders made out of simple card stock, with a fun design. And there are ribbons tied to punched-out holes in the bottom that you pull to tear the paper so that the candy and toys can come out.
I helped him pull the ribbons and then tear a hole, and as soon as the piñata broke open, the kids went NUTS! It was chaos! (that’s the only common denominator with a Mexican piñata!)
We connected our cellphone to a speaker so that we could play music, and all the kids danced together, played with the balloons and ate a TON of candy.
Once everyone showed up, we sang “happy birthday” and Elias blew out his candle.
Now, I didn’t know that there is another tradition in Bolivia with the cake. One mama kept saying “que muerda la torta” (bite the cake!) and I had no clue about that tradition, nor did I know if Elias would do that. The mama kept trying to grab the cake, but I let her know that I would rather help him do it.
So, I slowly lifted the cake to his mouth, and before I could even tell him to bite, this mama reached behind his head and pushed his mouth into the cake!
I guess the tradition is smashing the birthday person’s face into the cake!
It took all of us by surprise, of course, so I quickly “bit the cake” and got frosting on my mouth, and Leo ran over to do the same thing. As soon as Elias saw that we all had frosting on our mouths, he was totally fine.
Everyone laughed and cheered, and it was a moment I will truly never forget!
After we had all eaten our fill of cake, snacks and cotton-candy, Esther, Kim and our little family went to a park with fountains that light up and dance to music.
It was the perfect ending to a full day! We walked around, breathing in the cool, damp air. Elias LOVED the lights, and the little show that projected onto the large, misty fountains.
After such a full day with so many people, it was life-giving to walk around with friends, sharing life.
At every turn, Bolivians blew me away with their generosity, kindness, care and how well they loved us. They truly went all-out for Elias, and made his second birthday one that we will remember forever!