When I mentioned the concept of roasting marshmallows to the girls at Poppys House, I had no idea it would lead to one of my favorite memories ever. Sure enough, once we bought the supplies and gathered sticks for the fire, the word I heard repeatedly throughout the day was “marshmallow.” “Ñaña, te gusta marshmallow?” (Sister, do you like marshmallows?) “Ñaña tenemos palos para los marshmallows?” (Sister, do we have wood for the marshmallows?)
So after the dinner plates were quickly (and likely inefficiently) washed and the sky darkened, the fire was built despite the cracks of thunder and threat of rain.
At the beginning, the girls just plopped their marshmallows into the center of the fire and immediately burnt them to a crisp, but after demonstrating how to get them golden, they were pros. I would say our bag of marshmallows lasted ten minutes at the most. Yet the kids were just getting started.
Before I could fully process what was happening, mangos appeared over the fire. At first they were stabbing full mangos with their sticks, but they quickly became fancier with their technique and cut the mango into slices before roasting. I cannot emphasize this enough, they tasted amazing. A toasted mango just as the rain began to drizzle, although weird sounding, was my Peruvian comparison to a warm coffee on a cold day. Just what was needed for that cozy, homely feeling.
But again, the girls’ creativity was not finished for the day. What was originally everyone roasting a mango for themselves turned into a full-on restaurant. Now, the cooks tirelessly hovered over the fire flipping their mangos at just the right moment. There were the servers asking if you wanted fish (the green, unripe mangos) or chicken (the orange, ripe ones). Then of course there were the customers, talking with their friends about what they ordered while awaiting their delicacies. I will shamelessly admit that I did no work and was a graciously served customer. Wow, our restaurant did not disappoint. Five stars without a doubt.
I’m sure you can guess that the night didn’t end because the girls were bored, but simply because it was long past their bedtime. And as the talking in their rooms became excited whispers, I realized that the best way to explain the experience was “beautiful chaos.”
I was supervising children who were literally playing with fire, and yet I was at peace with it all. I started the evening with the idea of “enlightening” them, and yet they easily taught me so much more.
They taught me how to create something so imperfect that it was perfect. They taught me how to be a part of their radiant family. And of course, they taught me how to roast mangos over a fire.