These were the times of marshmellows, cooked by the kids on a small clay stove, and supervised carefully by the young Daniel. These were the times of piñatas: for Easter, for birthdays, for graduations, for nothing in particular. All the children in a line from smallest to tallest, me at the end, candy flying everywhere and tiny grabbing hands. These were the times of mechanical bulls, and the bullying that went with them: Get on the bull! Go again! Just once more! They only wanted to have a laugh.
These were the times of nopales, tortillas stuffed with pescado, and carne asadas bubbling away in huge vats dug out of the earth. Of Mane's sweet empanadas, and Bari's tequila-and-lime concoctions, which the younger ones would try and sneak into red plastic cups. Of corn cobs, milk jellies, flan and steaming cups of atole.
These were the times of inside - outside - inside. Of quips and jokes and all kinds of laughs. Of the need for a quick wit and a sharp tongue - especially around the guys. They were the times of sisters, mothers, daughters, friends, all gathering to prepare the feast. Of the crowd at the pool table, the break, the scratch, the balls clacking and remarks of triumph. Of children running barefoot through tiled halls, and pulling at my dress to be picked up and cuddled. Of their smiles, everybody's smiles. My smile.