The “Fogata” and the Mysterious “Marbombiscos”

Towards the end of my last post, Lyon had run to the store, I was locking the door, and Bilingual Baby was being led, hand-in-hand, by her three neighbor friends across the small bridge at the end of our yard towards the road.

We hadn’t eaten dinner yet, and it was already dark. I still wasn’t sure what was being served over the fogata, but we couldn’t go empty-handed, so Lyon ran to the store to get cookies and beer. It would be awkward if we showed up with a raw fish fillet if the neighbors were cooking something completely different. You can never go wrong with cookies and beer.

I followed Bilingual Baby and her friends as they giggled and hurriedly maneuvered the potholed, gravel road. As they passed by a group of women sitting in green plastic chairs outside their homes, it became clear that one of the women was the mother of the seven-year-old girl. I couldn’t hear what the mother said exactly, but when she saw Jojo being dragged gleefully down the street by the kids with no grown-up in sight, she stopped them, and I could just imagine her saying something like, “Where did you get that baby? Return her! And where’s her mother?!”

But the kids laughed and kept moving, and I was just steps behind them. The mother twisted around to see me as I called out, “¡Es mia (she’s mine)!” We smiled and introduced ourselves while Jojo got escorted to the fogata two houses down. The mom and I laughed as I explained that her daughter had been talking about a fogata for two days and how I didn’t really know what that was. She added that her daughter had been asking if “Yo Yo” could come and she could only respond, “Who’s Yo Yo?” I asked if it was OK that they had invited us to the fogata and told her I still wasn’t sure what they were cooking.

The mother stumbled over the same word her daughter had. It came out slightly differently but still some version of marbombisco and she made a motion with her hand to demonstrate how they were eaten after being roasted over the fire. Being that we were by the ocean, I nodded with half-confidence, certain it was some kind of seafood, some kind of marisco. She said she’d see me over there, as I headed towards the front yard that the kids had disappeared into.

When I got there, marshmallows were being passed out and stuck onto sticks, then roasted slowly over a fire in the yard. The word was “marshmallows”! Um, we definitely know what those are. The kids were delighted at our delight, and had me say the word “marshmallow” a few times before they gave up on pronouncing it, preferring just to enjoy the actual thing itself.

Bilingual Baby was elated to see her friends’ house, which had a nice big porch, and to get to eat roasted marshmallows before dinner. And I was so happy to meet the moms of the kids. The mother of the seven-year-old girl had lived on the street the longest and we talked about everything from work to languages, the kids and their schools, the snakes on the mountain above our street, being mothers and living in Costa Rica (they are from Nicaragua).

When Lyon showed up with cookies and beer, it was absolutely perfect. We showed the kids how we like to smoosh the marshmallow between two cookies, and Lyon asked in perfect Spanish whether he could put the beer in the refrigerator.

As we left (to finally have a real dinner), the mothers told me to be sure to tell the kids if they were being “too much.” I assured them they were welcome and always so well behaved.

We now have neighbors we can smile and wave to. We now know who the neighborhood kids belong to.


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