Teen had her 16th birthday yesterday. In Argentina girls historically came of age at 15. Even though today legal adulthood begins at 18, the all-important birthday party is still the 15th. However, a year ago Teen was still living in the Residencia (hostel), which means that she didn’t get to enjoy her full compliment of traditions. In particular the one that she really want to make up on was:
friends and family painting the public road in front of the birthday girl’s house.
In the UK this would probably have you clapped in irons under the anti-terrorism act. In Argentina, this is a perfectly normal, socially acceptable, tradition associated with coming of age. The road painting event is really a pre-party party. There were around fifteen teenagers hanging out on the road in front of our house, listening to music (also fully socially acceptable), sharing snacks and drinks, and chipping in with the artwork. The finished product looks like this:
It will continue to adorn the road with ne’er an asbo in sight until the passing of seasons and traffic finally wear away the bright colours of the permanent paint.
Road painting led into cooking, as she and her friends put sausages in the oven for a “choripaneado” – big juicy sausages, slapped into impossible-to-get your-mouth-round french bread sandwiches, with salad and dressings. I received a request for a cake in the colours of “River”, her favourite football team, (one of the big two in Argentina). The teenagers really liked it. And it tasted good (shameless self promotion):
Teen is lovely to give presents to. Watching her take pictures of her presents and then sending the photos via mobile phone to her friends reminded me that she is still adapting to the novelty of having stuff to call her own. Everyone had a nice day, and even two of her teachers unexpectedly called in with a little gift.