New Year's Eve

Fri 3 Jan 2014 15:38
We were quite excited. Before Christmas every weekend there had been a sequence of "White" parties at the Marina. They weren't for white people, quite the opposite, it was mostly Colombians who attended, but everyone dressed in white and we were told that they were very posh affaires, Santa Marta's elite at play. For New Year's Eve there was going to be another party at the Marina, you didn't have to be dressed in white but it was going to be an even more sumptuous affair we were led to believe. Dancing, with a live band, then dinner and half an hour of fireworks at midnight. Well, it would be a bit sad to be in the Marina looking on from afar and not joining in, so we bought our tickets and made our preparations. I was going get to wear 'The Dress'. The one my sister and I bought 5 months ago in the Monsoon sale, OK to be perfectly truthful, it wasn't actually in the sale but by the time we'd tried on 8 sale dresses between us (we're the same size so we can swap in the changing room) and found all of them didn't quite come up to scratch we felt we deserved a reward! Finally there was An Occasion for The Dress. 

The party was billed to start at 7pm so shortly afterwards we set off up the pontoon to find waiters still setting out chairs and fighting table cloths - I forgot to tell you, it was quite windy, so we diverted off to Tulu to ask for refuge until the party proper got going. The Field Trippers and Byamees turned up too and we had a very pleasant pre-party party going, clearing poor Tulu out of her carefully stocked Not-For-Now-That's-For-The-Pacific wine. Around 10pm Joyce was sent off on a recce to see if there was any sign of a) The Party and b) food. She came back saying some people had arrived and the food was due at 10:30 so we headed off en masse. By this time it was blowing a gale. They had completely given up on the table cloths. Or perhaps they'd all blown away. Marilyn Monroe moments were plentiful and unoccupied chairs on the outskirts of the party area were seen sedately gliding across towards the ocean. As promised there were smart well to do non-cruisers at the party, the ladies all very nicely groomed in very high heels. Luckily they were well practiced in them as the wind was likely to send untutored high heel totterers tumbling. We ordered our drinks, beer for the chaps, white wine for the ladies to be told they didn't have any. One could only buy bottles of rum, brandy or whisky. Oh, as an after thought he did admit they you could buy mixers. Rum and coke/sprite were agreed on (and good smooth rum it was too), and it duly appeared with a couple of big styrofoam cups of ice and thin plastic beakers. The problem with these beakers was that they had no substance. As soon as a drink was getting close to half full you couldn't put it down without it blowing over. This meant constant top ups were a must (and good smooth rum it was too). 

We were one of the first tables to be called over for the food, and conscious of the wine consumption during the pre-party party, we were keen to get something to soak up the rum (good smooth rum though it was, sliding down easily). The tickets had said a buffet, but it was more like school dinners. You lined up with your plate and meat (two kinds), rice and salad were plomped on it. Unfortunately there was a wide open space of 10 meters between the servers and our table. The salad had no chance. As soon as you turned sideways to the wind - Whoosh! It was gone. We hankered down at the table over the remaining food and started eating. Unfortunately one hand was occupied by holding on to our drinks so we were eating one handed. From the corner of my eye I could see the smartly dressed Santa Marta matrons gnawing meat off a fork as they didn't have two hands to cut it up first. The rice was interesting. It was pretty safe on the plate but as soon as you lifted a forkful it got the full force of the wind and scattered. You didn't know if it was your rice or your neighbours. Those downwind did best out of the deal. 

After dinner the live band came on. We thought they were dire. First of all it was a strange collection of instruments: an accordion, a guitar, bongos and a thing that looked like a cylindrical cheese grater rubbed up and down with a fork. Secondly the lead singer seemed to just caterwaul. Of course, it could be that he was singing particularly amusing or touching lyrics, but they were lost on me (remember, although I can now say thanks, hello, good day etc I am at a two year old level with my Spanish - starting to string two words together!). We later discovered that ALL Colombian bands have this make up, the accordion is a must, serious heavy rock accordion at times, but it's got to be there! We were quite keen to see the dancing, Colombians, with all that South American heat, must dance wonderfully. Now, there were a few good dancers I must admit, but mostly the women got up and simply shuffled on the spot, hardly lifting their feet, just moving their hips up and down. When couples danced there was a slight variation, one of them had their thigh between the other's legs. I blame it on the high heels. Unperturbed we danced merrily (that rum really was rather smooth) and welcomed with relief the DJ following the band. 

Midnight arrived, and a few minutes before hand the fireworks started. Then stopped in confusion, waited for 12 0'clock and started again. They were good but if it was half an hour it was a very quick half an hour, perhaps they couldn't let the big ones off in the strong winds. We did well for us, considering we're usually in bed by 8:30, around 1:30 we'd danced our socks off and the rum was making us sleepy so we retired to bed. There was no way that was the end of the party though, there was an after-party party a hundred yards away on shore, out of the worst of the wind, and some of the youngsters were still going strong at 10am the next morning!

I wasn't going anywhere the next morning. The day dawned but I didn't. I couldn't even face a cup of tea. Alka seltzer was about all I could face. About the time the revellers were leaving the after-party party Phil levered me from my nest and gave me that wonderful hangover cure: a good cooked breakfast. That worked the trick and set me back on my feet just fine! But it certainly was good smooth rum.

Notice the palm trees in the background gently blowing in the wind...