>Dia de los Reyes
My first Christmas in Colonial Zone all was still so new to me. But then I try to always look at things as if I’m seeing them for the first time. Makes life so much more interesting this way. Anyhow…
The 3 Kings Day..I had never heard of Dia de los Reyes before. I had no idea it even existed. Sure I knew about the 3 kings but I didn’t know that people celebrated this day. So when I saw all this commotion in the park in front of my apartment early one morning a week after New Years day I didn’t know what was happening. So I got my cup of coffee and dragged my milk crates to the balcony to watch (I used milk crates because the plastic chair didn’t reach high enough to sit and see over the balcony edge. 2 milk crates with a cushion on top worked just fine).
I thought the holidays were over but I guess I was wrong. This big truck pulls up towing a giant flat bed all decked out with Christmas decorations and some hugh speakers. It took a while for the truck to get the flat bed in the correct place. Going back and forth, over the curbs, almost hitting the telephone pole. In fact, it did scrape the pole and the wires were waving. I thought the pole was going to come down as it was not in the best shape to begin with.
But the flat bed was in place and the truck left. During all this there was a line forming along the wall down to the entrance to the restaurant La Bahia. More and more kids with their parents were getting in this line. Going around the Colmado and continuing down the street. I had no idea what was happening and the neighbors were just moseying around the park watching the flat bed turn into a stage and going about their daily business. As I was getting more curious. This was a normal event for them but I had no clue, as usual. So I went and got showered and dressed and thought I’d wander outside and to the Colmado to see what was going on.
By the time I made it outside the line of jumping happy kids with their parents in tow was moving slowly toward the restaurant and there was all types of kids in the park with their folks. I cut into the line and got into the Colmado and asked what was happening. Thomas, the Colmado guy, was really busy. He was the only one working so I at least got a few of the items I knew to help him out and collected some money for the candy the kids were buying. But he didn’t have the time to tell me what was happening. My Spanish isn’t that good and it takes time for someone to talk to me and for us both to understand. But I did figure out that these kids were getting numbers from the restaurant that they would use in a drawing for gifts. So I just had to wait and see what would happen next.
The park gang, my neighbors were already claiming our normal bench, I guess it was before the people from outside of the neighborhood could take our bench. They are very possessive about their territory. So I joined them. Trying to find out what was going on without looking too stupid. They were already starting on a bottle of rum, but then it was almost noon by this time. It was going to be a long day. There were 2 large bottles of Brugal Anejo, a bottle of coke and one of 7up along with a stack of styrofoam glasses and a cooler with ice. They were ready. One neighbor was setting up her little stand, she sold meatballs from the bench. And Cesar and Euclau were already getting the hamburger cart ready. This was a big day for sure.
So I went and got Sniffy (my dog) and came back down to fill my glass from the neighborhood alcohol stash and started to concentrate on the events going on around the stage.
It seems that it was a radio station. The Bahia restaurant collected presents for the kids. or they were just the place that the tickets were being handed out, never was sure about that. The kids all got these tickets. The radio people drew the tickets and the kids got to go onto the stage and they got a present. I felt sorry for the kids because the announcers were taking their time and making jokes and such when all these kids wanted was their presents. But the kids waited patiently. A bit rambunctious but they were on the average good.
They got good presents too. Most of them were bikes, nice bikes. There were transformer robots, tea sets. All the presents were good stuff. There was one little boy. They gave him a box and he started crying. He just stood on the stage crying. He wouldn’t leave the stage. He wanted a bike. He was not going to leave until he got the bike. (I would have not let him have anything if he was mine after he started making a scene by yelling and crying). He got his bike and left the stage. Many of the kids were so cute and grateful for what they got. Many were dressed in their finest. Little girls in frilly dresses and ruffle socks, little boys in nice pants and shirts. It was really nice to see these kids getting presents where maybe their parents could not afford to get them something nice.
It finally was over as the sun went down. The truck took the stage back to where it came from. The kids left with their parents. There was a little garbage in the park but most was picked up in garbage bags left by the pole where garbage was picked up. What was left we neighbors walked around and picked up. All in all it was a nice day. I learned something new. I found out about what Dia de los Reyes was. I did go and read up on it a little after. I also found out that after this day, for sure, the Christmas holiday had come to an official end.