My apologies to the dictionary people who have dutifully developed their secret code of pronunciation guides and who have graciously posted “kinsāənˈyerə” as our guide to pronunciation in the Spanish – English dictionary. Can you remind me please how the upside down ‘e’ sounds? Here is how you say it in our world: “keen-see-an-yera” or at least that is close. It has to be quick too: “keenseeanyera” so that all the vowel sounds kind of make a vowel gumbo in your gringo mouth and drip onto your tee shirt. Got it? Ok, now go for ten in a row… All good? It’s not so hard really but as you repeat it 10 times fast, you will begin to feel how excited we were to attend our very first official quinceañera.
I hear some of you saying, “First official? Gordy, there is a story you’re hiding isn’t there?” Yes. I confess we crashed a quinceañera once in El Tuito, Jalisco that was underway at a local church. People were gracious about us Ooing and Ahing and taking copious pictures but we were dressed from an excursion to an out of the way beach where my harebrained
idea to drive the car on the beach resulted in us getting a little stuck, me having to push the SUV to get it out and all of us just generally not looking like we were ready for a formal fiesta. We got a taste of it that day but this day, this was special because we were invited and expected (and recently showered and dressed properly).
This was not just a local quinceañera either. It was in the tiny village of Collares, Jalisco about 2.5 hours south west of Puerto Vallarta and accessible only a ‘road’ that could be likened to a cart path if your cart has 4 wheel drive or is being pulled by Mexican Stunt Burros who specialize in rough terrain. Our vehicle of choice was a gently used Chevrolet Tracker born and bred in Mexico named “Pepe” with more gumption than horsepower and a chauffeur who had been dreaming of attending and photographing a quinceañera since she came to Mexico and who would not be denied. (There’s a good reason why her and her husband are good friends of ours!) Setting out around noon we made quick work of the number of paved bits and set out on the path with confidence. Following the advice of our contact, we asked a number of people along the way where Collares was and were pointed kindly each time in the right direction. This built our confidence greatly with one caveat that each kind passer by added, “Cuidado con el enorme agujero de la izquierda. Quédate a la derecha.” Roughly translated this means, “Stay to the right or you will have a very bad day.” It took us some time until, under the watchful eye of a family that had been gathering wood who decided to follow us to ensure our safety, we came upon the massive sinkhole to the left that would swallow our poor Pepe and spit him into the valley below. Passing safely to the right, we continued on our way towards Collares… well at least when the cattle moved aside to allow it.
( See Teri and Gordy’s Guide to Road Survival in Mexico for further “information”)
Arriving in Collares we were greeted by a vista of the sea that took our breath away and caused us to almost drive right into the preparations underway for the fiesta. Pink chiffon hung with shimmering silver cloth and metallic inflated stars over the dusty town centre we had just driven up to, almost tracing the path through the bamboo torch walkway awaiting the quinceañera.
(Side note or “Mexican Parenthesis” as our Spanish teacher here in Bucerias says – Quinceañera is literally “fifteen year old female” in Spanish and is usually used to refer to the young lady who is celebrating. The party gets referred to by the same name now so it’s acceptable to say “I’m going to the Quinceañera.” as well as “Look, there is the Quinceañera now, she looks wonderful.” although the latter is more correct – clear as mud?) Finding a spot to rest Pepe, we walked back into the town centre and were greeted by our contact who shouted, “I can’t believe you actually made it!” to which we all replied, “Neither can we!” As we were shown around the air of a serious celebration was pervasive and at every turn on every porch and stoop, young ladies were undergoing the final steps of beautification
the likes of which a Hollywood Red Carpet would be accustomed to seeing. The sun is hot and bright in the mid afternoon sky and the ocean is kissing the beach gently where the fishing boats lie still. Work is over and the whole village is ready to celebrate.
Stay tuned for The Slightly Loco Adventures of Teri and Gordy – Can You Say Quinceañera 10 Times Fast? – Part 2 coming up!