Night of the Little Candles, Part IIPosted: December 15, 2013
I am happy to report that away from the school, Las Velitas was less manic, more magic.
We spent the day downtown getting into the Christmas spirit.
Back at the apartment, Sam filled his new rolling Aviones backpack with supplies and we headed out to Parque Lleras, the heart of the neighborhood.
The boys lit candles while Andrew and I talked to a police officer who wanted to practice his English. We stayed long enough for the boys to master their lighting techniques, then we continued on through the neighborhood. There were candles and paper lanterns everywhere.
We ran into our friends Vanessa and Bob outside the dog park (which is actually a basketball court and the only fenced-in area around). Vanessa, who is Colombian-Canadian, told us they were giving out buñuelos at the park next to our favorite vegetarian restaurant. Buñuelos are little round bread balls traditionally served at Christmastime that are traditionally pretty bad. But she said these were fresh and delicious. And she was right! These little dough balls were served moments after boiling in a pot of oil. Little delicious crispy dough balls. The natilla, slimy Christmas raisin cake, was less delicious but Andrew ate 3 pieces.
The atmosphere in the park was pure magic. There were half a dozen dogs and a cat, just lounging. There were grandmothers, little kids, hipsters, parents, and hipster parents, making and sharing food, lighting candles and playing music. And that, apparently, is what Las Velitas is all about. (We ran into a South African friend of Vanessa’s who thought it was all a tribute to Nelson Mandela, which also would have been nice…). Nobody fell into the pot of boiling oil or lit their pants on fire. We were offered more buñuelos than we could eat and the kids got an impromptu music lesson from a guitar player from Bogotá.
We rolled back home a few hours after the kids’ bedtime. Aiden asked me to read him the new book he got from his Spanish teacher.
We only got a few pages in, but the good news is that someone is at least paying lip service to the fact that kids shouldn’t play with explosives or send burning paper lanterns into the atmosphere. The children fell asleep in minutes, with visions of little boys on fire dancing in their heads.