Friends are critical to the life of an expat. You leave your country, family, friends, everything you know behind and move to some foreign country and try to make it work for your family. Your local friends become your family and support system. It is amazing how quickly you can make friends as an expat; everyone needs friends, so most people are super friendly. There's no, "Well, she seems cool, but we'll see. Maybe next month I'll invite her over for a playdate". Nope. It's all about the here and now. And a lot of the friends you make are friends for life (like my friend Grammy!).
In Small Town it's been difficult to make friends because there aren't a ton of expats as there's only one industry here. In Caracas there were all kinds of embassies, tons of different companies, etc. etc. Here it is all oil, all the time. And, there is no international school. So, most companies don't send American or European families with kids here. Guapo's company is, hmmm, let's say special in that way.
My friend, who comments on every post I write as "K-Squared's Mom" arrived last fall. She came at a dark point in my stay here in Small Town when my only friend was leaving with practically all of my kids' friends (she had triplets). Sometimes in my blog I think I make Small Town sound pretty good, but really, it can be a pretty hard place to live. Don't get me wrong, I love my life and wouldn't trade it for the world, but it is not all boat rides and monkeys. And the shrimp can only keep the kids occupied for so long.
The turnover here is incredible because people just can't take it. Even Latins. Even Mexicans. There are 12 houses in our housing compound; of the 12, only two haven't changed renters since we arrived 2 years ago. Several have changed hands 4 times. We have more than one marriage break up due to Small Town living. Not good.
Anyway, K-Squared's Mom arrived, and on her first night here we went to dinner. As we got out of the car, two of my kids and her two kids started holding hands and I knew then and there I had myself a new friend. She has been such a blessing in my life. She is one of those "beautiful on the outside and the inside" kind of people.
She has taught me much about the beauty and grace of her Filipino culture. It shines through in all she does. She is kind and generous to all she meets. Her home is her refuge from the world, and in so being is decorated with love and always has fresh flowers. Whenever I go to her house for a mid-morning playdate, she has prepared an entire meal for us. She is a wonderful, loving mom to her two kids. I could go on and on, but I'm afraid I will soak my keyboard with tears. Of all the things about Small Town and all the people whom I have met, I will miss her the most of all.
To give you an example of just how cool she is, she had a Harry Potter party for the kids on Saturday. It wasn't anyone's birthday, she just did it so the kids could have a fun activity (fun activities are hard to come by here in Small Town).
The kids received super cute invitations telling them they had been accepted at Hogwarts and they were to report Saturday night to Hogwarts (which was being disguised as a Muggle house).
They arrived and had to go to Gringott's Bank to take out money so they could visit Diagon Alley to purchase various school supplies. (She made the wands and the bags for the wands. Such projects require hours of searching for supplies here in Small Town):
The kids then had to be sorted in to their houses (a cell phone was hidden in the hat and annouced (on speaker phone) which house each child was in):
Then it was off to their first class: Defense against the Dark Arts where practiced some spells and then had to fight off a Dementor (played by K-squared's mom's husband who also played Professor Snape and "Dumbledad". What a great sport!)
Next they had Potions with Professor Snape where they made some Poly Juice Potion:
Then they had a feast (the house-elves were on strike so the kids had Domino's and Kentucky Fried). After dinner they had a little time to chill out in the Gryffindor Common Room. Then they had to find the snitches.
To finish off the night they had a trip to Hogsmead to spend the last of their Galleons on treats.
Here's one last shot of my little Juan Carlos (3 yrs) posing as "Drakin" Malfoy as he calls himself.
The kids had a great night! My hat's off to K-squared's mom! Thanks for being such a great friend. I will miss you dearly.