giving thanks in south america
I had my first “international” thanksgiving experience yesterday, and I must say that it didn’t go as poorly as I expected it too. It was really incredibly strange waking up and seeing that everyone was still at work, all the kids (aka the high school that we share a wall with) were still in class, everything was open as usual.
My IFSA-Butler group was having a mock thanksgiving dinner, but I was trying to not have any expectations about it as I was assuming it would be kinda crappy. I mean, we are in Perú. They don’t sell pumpkin, they don’t sell cranberry… not that I even eat any of those dishes, but it just wasn’t going to be the same.
My family called me to eat lunch, and when I walked in they all greeted me with “happy thanksgiving” which was really sweet, and they had even made turkey for lunch so I wouldn’t feel homesick. It was obviously prepared in the Peruvian way, but it was a really nice thought.
After explaining to them that no, Thanksgiving was not more important than Christmas in the United States, they asked me what we really did on the day.. Feeling like a gluttonous American I responded… uhh we all get together to spend time, you are supposed to be thankful for everything you have but mostly you just eat until you are stuffed.
For the makeshift Thanksgiving dinner last night our coordinator told us that she was providing a turkey and an apple pie, but we had to bring whatever else we wanted. On her last trip to Canada she stopped in the US to pick up canned pumpkin and cranberry for whoever wanted to tackle those items.
I was mildly concerned about our group’s possible cooking skills, but thought what the heck, we are in Peru. My friend Jessa came over in the afternoon to cook in my house, as we have two full kitchens, and her apartment isn’t exactly fit for the job. We decided to tackle green bean casserole, buttered corn (from corn on the cob I might add), stuffing, and then just bring a ton of fresh fruit.
By the time we got back from shopping it was 5:15 p.m. Crap. Dinner was scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. and it is a good 20 minute drive from my house, if you take a taxi… darn it! We tried to throw together the stuffing, which Jessa found out doesn’t work to well if you have a TON of chicken broth… and I quickly realized that we had no where near enough time to make green bean casserole.
So the green bean casserole turned into steamed green beans, the stuffing soup is currently sitting in my oven (and I have no clue what to do with it), and I discovered that cutting corn off of the cob is a huge pain in the neck.
After our magical realizations, and putting together the dishes we were going to bring, we realized (at 6:35 p.m.) that we should find a taxi and get over to the office, where our dinner was being held. After jamming our six massive containers of foods (without lids) into a taxi, and trying to explain to the taxi driver that no, we were not crazy, we were off.
We arrived at 6:55, extremely late and apologetic, but at least with a mound of food. I was honestly impressed with the food that had been prepared by everyone. We had mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole (thankfully someone had planned out their time better than us), pumpkin pie, salad, the turkey and apple pie from my director, and then all of the fruit and vegetables we had brought.
It actually looked really good! The turkey had been prepared by a Peruvian woman who does all of the turkey preparation for all Americans living in Lima, and it was spectacular. Everyone’s food turned out great, and all of us left commenting on how we did almost sorta feel as if we had just finished an actual Thanksgiving Dinner.
(We even cleaned up our mess too!)
So while I didn’t get to spend Thanksgiving with my family back in the states, I did get to spend the time with my lovely dysfunctional “IFSA-family” here in Peru. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!