Today is the 27th of December 2013 and Mary and I finally feel like we can sit for a minute to catch our breath and let you all know about our Christmas here in San Clemente, Ecuador.
Last year we published three posts about Christmas here in our little fishing village starting with: https://johnandmarylivingitupinecuador.wordpress.com/2012/12/25/christmas-in-san-clemente-part-one/ If you want a full review of how this area celebrates Christmas, take a minute to review those posts.
This year we participated in many of the same activities in addition to the extra trip Papa Noel made to Santa Teresa to entertain the children of that community. Our friend, Pinocho worked for many weeks again to prepare the elaborate nativity scene downtown.
He also collected two liter soda bottles all year and used them to make a huge Christmas “tree” bigger and better this year. Using something like 350 bottles which he had carefully spray painted and covered with sparkles he worked to construct and erect a tree that would be more visible in the daylight than last year’s tree. It is lighted and the huge star shines bright in the nighttime too.
Pinocho is a bit camera shy, but I did catch him unaware one afternoon just before Christmas when he was talking on the phone while taking a rare break.
This big man has an equally large heart and he and his entire “Garcia Family” crew are responsible for most of the fund-raising for buying and then distributing the family and children’s Christmas gifts to the town. Pocho, Pinocho, Clavin, Patricia, and many, many others worked for weeks to purchase and package up gifts for every family in San Clemente and individual gifts for more than five hundred fifty children!
Because of scheduling, the gift day was held on Monday the 23rd of December this year. To make the gifts more meaningful and useful, the group presented each family with a large plastic bag containing rice, flour, cooking oil, lentils, and other food staples and then gave small gifts to the mothers of each family for the children in that home.
An announcer called up each mother individually from a master list and then that mother would come forward from the crowd with her children to collect their gifts where the names were systematically checked off a duplicate list after the gifts were presented. As you can imagine, that process took quite a bit of time (more than three hours) and did not make for much excitement for spectators. Nevertheless Pinocho (in a full Santa outfit) was on hand and a gringo Santa was present to, “Ho, ho, ho” and sing and walk around amongst the children as they waited patiently for their family’s name to be called.
It was a hot muggy day and seating was limited, so many of the children and mothers sat or stood on the sidewalk or curb for the entire time waiting to be called up. After a mother and her children got their food goods and gifts, they returned to their seats and watched and waited until everyone else got their presents.
Mary and I wore out before the children did and we were able to slip away and get some dinner overlooking the peaceful ocean. refreshing in the cooling breeze and marveling again about the generous, loving nature of our neighbors here in San Clemente, Ecuador!
Here are some of the children and smiles that brightened our afternoon:
The next event on our agenda would be the nighttime Christmas-Eve celebration downtown with adults and children alike. We will report on how that went later today or tomorrow.
Right now, I think we will take a short siesta here where…
Life is good in Ecuador!