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   Annette's Birthday 2003
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Happy Birthday Annette!!

For all of you who could not make it, which is everyone reading this, I would like you to see how Annette spent the day.  So I must take you back three days, or more depending on when you read this.  It was December 7th and here in Guatemala it was a little chilly in the morning. 

  I woke up a little earlier than her and snuck off to bring her flowers and  cup of hot tea while she was still in bed. If you are wondering what that is in the background, it is a mosquito net.  We don't use it too often, but it is nice not to have to worry about the buzzing you hear somewhere in the room.  I then made her a warm fire so she could sit, relax and read while I made breakfast.  

 

  That's me there preparing the fire.  I was inside using a machete to cut the wood.  Most guys are not allowed to swing machetes indoors, I guess I am lucky to have such a wife.  She really seemed to enjoy the fire so I suppose I could do it again.  The 7th was a Sunday so we went to church after breakfast.  We have a nice bike ride to church, a little over a mile.  We go south towards a nice dirt road that leads us eventually to Panorama.  Panorama is a little town close to Antigua.  After church we visited with a friend of ours who lives there.  We may even move on to her property soon, but that is for a different update.  We then biked back and went to special birthday BBQ at another friends house. 

  

  We started eating around two in the afternoon and sat and talked afterwards.   Annette spent some time on the phone with her family before desert.  Here is a picture of her by the pool talking to Karen.  Annette has a rough life.  Can you believe we couldn't even swim that day.... the water was too cool.  I made Annette a big plate of brownies for her "cake".  

 

A tradition in Latin America is to shoot off fire works on your birth day.  I gave Annette some bottle rockets and a piņata!  Usually you do not give piņatas after 8 or 9 years of age, but I figured since we never collected those first years we were due some.  Watching Annette wack the poor little piņata was very fun indeed.  We first blind folded her and then spun her around quite a bit.  She had to locate the huge, purple piņata and then beat her presents out of it.  

    

  I made a short film of the carnage that followed.  Download it here (be careful, it's pretty big, 6.2 MB).  It is really fun to watch.  

  December 7th is not just Annette's birthday, it is also the day of the "burning of the devil".  On this day different cities in Latin America make a image of the devil.  They then burn it to cast away bad spirits. Nowadays they sometimes also give the devil a specific name, e.g. in 2001 it was Bin Laden...  Antigua celebrates this day as well so after dessert we all headed over to see it.  The streets were too crowded and we could not get close enough so here is a picture of a lot of other people who were also too far away. 

 We then all went to the Sky Bar.  This is a roof top patio that we enjoy.  Here we are having drinks and enjoying the sunset. 

 

 We then left our friends and headed home.  I saved one big fire cracker for the evening.  It was called "El Mercenarrio",  it was quite big and was supposed to create a huge spectacle of colored sparks in the air.  Well, it didn't live up to its name...but fire works are fire works and being able to shoot them off in the city limits adds to the fun.  I can't wait till New Year's Eve.  I then made Annette another fire and some tea.  She really likes apple pie and she made herself one the day before.  We enjoyed another piece with our tea.  Another friend of ours also made Annette a cake.  This was a very moist pine apple cake.  We have way too many sweets now.  What can we do about that?  So Annette finished the day similar to the way she began, reading by a warm fire.  She is now reading Harry Potter in Spanish.  It's a good way to learn even though we do not understand every word of the book.  We already read the English version so we can fill in the gaps.  All in all it was a very good day.  We miss you all and wish to see you soon.

Lots of love,

Nathan and Annette