A Baja Birthday Curry

Before I start this post, I have to say that all of the photos in this blog are either Jen’s or Kirsten’s, and I can’t take any credit for them. I’m glad someone took some photos though, as I took absolutely none, maybe I was somehow incapacitated.

Having celebrated Lee’s birthday only a couple of weeks ago, in what would turn out to be the last wild camp for the foreseeable future, it was now my turn.

The day started off with birthday pancakes which Lee whipped up for me, and slathered in Nutella. I then managed to video call both my sister and my parents that morning, which was a nice way to start the day.

This is first time in my entire life that I haven’t spent my birthday (or very close to it) with parents, which was a little odd in itself. Thinking back to last year and our fancy meal out in the city centre of Birmingham, followed by us all having a go at one of those escape rooms, I never pictured this. If you had told me a year ago that I would be sitting in Mexico (not part of the plan), in the middle of a global pandemic (definitely not part of the plan), I would have been confused to say the least.

I imagine that I am quite fortunate compared to a lot of people at this current time, in the fact that there is still a small group of us who socialise, whether we are supposed to or not. This means that we can have some kind of celebration.

We decided to cook a massive curry for everyone. It wouldn’t be a proper birthday without a good old British curry involved somewhere, and most people we have met so far on our travels haven’t really experienced one. The Indian takeaway scene in Baja is even more lacking than with it’s American neighbours, so it felt like our civic duty to show off England’s finest cuisine. With recipes for our tried and tested favourites, we started off with some bombay potatoes and a korma.

Hanno and Kirsten were in charge of making naan breads, which they made an enormous batch of with a little help from Sloane.

Lee persuades the kids to try some new things, and to their credit they do eat it. I certainly never used to like curry, and I don’t think it was something I got into until I was much older. I basically refused to try it, because I thought it looked like it had been eaten once already.

Lee insists that he cook, while Hanno is getting creative with the drinks. He serves me a Blue Hawaiian cocktail, which looks a little scary, but tastes pretty good.

Lee has also been busy on the drink front and had tried to make some homemade alcoholic ginger beer, similar to what we have been buying at the brewery. We had tried to make it once before, a rather labor intensive process that involved me spending a long time peeling ginger. In hindsight I wonder if this is even necessary, sure it’s all sieved anyway? Anyway, we had made some passable ginger beer, if not a little sweet. It was missing the fundamental alcoholic element however, and this time Lee has added some yeast. I’m not sure if it did anything, because we can’t measure it, but it tasted a lot better than the last batch.

In the meantime, I enjoy several cocktails and Rob holds the all important spoon, while Kirsten juggles an enormous batch of naan bread.

I realise that we don’t have any cashews for the korma, which is kind of important, so I head out to the supermarket to try and find them. Lee tries to explain where they are, but other than establishing they’re in a weird place I decided I’lll just have to look.

It takes me a while to get into the actual shop. Current virus policy is the same as many stores, with only one member from each family allowed in the shop and also a maximum limit of 5 people in the store at a time. The one member rule is definitely being ignored, but they are sticking to only 5 people and I join the back of a queue of already about 4 people standing outside. It take a while before I manage to get in, and when I do I certainly can’t find the cashew nuts. This is annoying, so I head home empty handed and a bit annoyed, because I really wanted all the curries to be as good as I know they can be. I couldn’t be annoyed for long, as in my absence the outdoor dining area had been decorated, complete with balloons and piñata.

The table is laid with an assortment of whatever is in the cupboard, and we all sit down on the wobbling picnic bench which constitutes the dining area.

Jen has also brought a massive pot of food, so we have more than enough to feed the eight of us.

Between us, we’ve cooked up a massive meal, definitely enough for all of us for at least two nights.

I think the meal was indeed a success, and we already agree that the others will come back tomorrow to finish off the mountain of food we have created.

With dinner eaten, Lee presents me with my birthday cake, which he had sneaked off to bake earlier. True to tradition, it wasn’t just your average chocolate cake, with the cake itself containing beetroot and the icing made from avocado. It was delicious, the cake wasn’t too sweet which is perfect for me and the icing wasn’t as weird as it sounded, in fact it just tasted like smooth chocolate. With birthday celebrations going pretty well, I had to sit and recover for a while from the mountain of food I had eaten, before thoughts turned to the evening entertainment. The piñata.

Tied onto the balcony of the small uninhabited casita, the piñata was ready to go. A suitable beating stick had been found, and Kirsten supplied traditional piñata beating music. As birthday girl, I was up first. Blindfolded and made suitably dizzy, Lee let me loose at it. It took a surprising amount of beating, and by the time I had finished I had dislodged some of the outside decorations with the body of the thing still looking wholly intact.

Exhausted, but having worked off a little of the curry, I passed the stick on. The kids were dying to have a go, and both had a good bash at it. Then each adult took it in turns. Hanno tried.

Lee tried.

Rob and Jen also got stuck in. The piñata showed no signs of budging. Starting another round, I beat it for a while, determined that I would be the one to destroy it. Under the blindfold, I heard the cries around me which confirmed that it was nearly broken. With a few more hefty wacks, it fell on the floor in bits. It was at this point that we learnt a valuable lesson, piñatas do not come pre-filled.

I personally found this pretty funny, as I think did the rest of the adults. I was still incredibly full and had eaten a bit of cake anyway for pudding. There was no way I would be eating sweets, even if they had fallen out of it. The kids however were incredibly disappointed, but tried to put a brave face on matters.

Apparently it had made noises when shaken, that sounded like it had something in it. This accompanied by the fact that there was also no obvious place in which to fill it up, Hanno and Kirsten had assumed it was already full. Now we know!

By now, it was later than you might have thought, and after enjoying a few more drinks with everyone, I was happy to call it a night. Full of curry and cocktails, I think I would have struggled to stay up for any late night partying. This is birthday parties in your late twenties compared to your early ones I suppose, not that I’m complaining.

We agreed to reconvene tomorrow in an attempt to finish the sizeable remains of the curry, before heading back to our respective sleeping quarters. Despite the current global situation, I can happily say that I did enjoy my birthday. There were no presents or big expenses, but this is not what makes something enjoyable. To have the company of good friends, along with plenty of good food and drink and a good does of laughs, is more than enough for me.

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