Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The First Communion Saga Winds to a Close, Sort of...

Last Saturday’s festivities went perfectly. Bells were rung, water was splashed about, wafers were distributed and responses were sung. In less than two hours, the Mass was over and it was time to head over to the restaurant.

The twins were anxious to change from their simple white robes and into their party dresses that we bought last summer in USA. The girls looked lovely in their fancy white dresses and matching diamond crosses from their grandparents in America. They greeted the guests, accepted many gifts, envelopes and good wishes.

The meal was nice and lively, the guests a real mixture of nationalities: Burkinabé, Malian, American, French, Italian, Swiss, and Taiwanese.

At about 9:30 pm, there was a pause as the nuns sang Ave Maria. Afterwards, the twins and their friends danced around under the stars in the courtyard garden under the sleepy, sweet marble gaze of Saint Mary in the niche in the back wall.

The party ended too soon. We made our way home and went to our well deserved rest. And we’d need it- Sunday would also be a very busy day.

Sunday morning was relatively calm. I spent it cooking, getting ready for that night’s American Idol party. But by noon we had to be out the door and on our way to the First Communion meal of the daughter of some friends. Lots of families decided to have a Sunday lunch, rather than a more formal evening party.

These friends live in a chic, huge house out in the swankiest neighbourhood of the city- Ouaga 2000. But the party was very casual and Burkina-style. In some ways, this was very, very bad, as the day was very, very hot and the party was outdoors. There were big tents for shade, but it was quite hot under them. And there were almost no tables (only two that I saw) and not enough chairs for all the guests. There were about 150 guests and it was a bit of a crush. Especially when it came time to line up at the buffet. Everyone was anxious to get at the grilled wart hog and the tripe soup.

Oh yeah.

As you may have guessed by now, I was NOT one of the masses lined up with a plate in hand.

There were also “normal” items on offer- Valentine had salad and Severin had some grilled guinea fowl. But I figured that I’d better save my appetite, anyway. After this , we’d be going to yet another post-Communion ceremony meal and it would be bad if all of us were too full to eat. That can really be seen as bad manners around here.

So, the twins swam in borrowed swimsuits. I chatted a while with a visitor from Paris who wanted to practise his English. JP ate tripe and warthog. He said it was really good.

Finally, we said goodbye. We got little tulle bags of pastel-coloured sugared almond from the hostess as favors. In the car, I opened mine and dug in ravenously. As we drove, Mallory happily enumerated how much more she liked HER party than her friend’s. The list of superior attributes included: tables and chairs, air-conditioning, the lack of cow organs and the fact that an evening party is just more “elegant”.

The next party was on the far northern edge of town. It was being held by another French/Burkinabé couple , people much less wealthy than the Ouaga 2000 crowd. The party was very simple and would have been quiet, if not for the hip-hop music being played by the teenagers. The girls ran around with their friends, having fun with the monkeys (3!) and the horses (8!).

I finally had some lunch, upholding the family honor. JP had eaten far too much wart hog and tripe to even make an attempt. First of all, I had some Babenda. It was so tasty that I took seconds, which is suprising, considering that “babenda means “dog’s underpants” in Mooré. (No, I’m NOT making this up. If I were, don’t you think I’d invent something less outlandish?) It’s actually a very delicious and healthy mixture of whole millet and spinach.

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