First thing being first – NOTE THE ADDRESS CHANGE IN THE SIDEBAR. It's just easier to go to the city than to little Chota-town. And if things are going to keep getting caught in the Chiclayo customs office anyways...
Today, at the elementary school I work at sometimes, a clown came. The very first thing he did was start breathing tons of giant balls of fire, completely filling the classroom with thick, nasty, block smoke, as everyone clapped and cheered. I wanted to jump up and give a Cocinas Mejoradas-type charla right then and there. Instead, I laughed and clapped. One thing at a time...
We had Thanksgiving. The best Thanksgiving ever. A few of us discussed that we had been worried, that this was it, when homesickness would finally start to kick our asses, Thanksgiving with no family. Instead, we OWNED this Turkey Day, even without any actual turkeys.
First, we rented an apartment for the night, on the beach in Pimantel. Beautiful, gorgeous, amazing place. And absolutely stellar apartment – fifth floor, beach front, actual comfortable furniture, and amazing views. Only 6 of us could stay there – myself, Rob, Mallory, the Cobbs, and Chris Boston – and the rest stayed at the nearby hostel run by the same folks who own the apartment.
We did our shopping early that morning in Chiclayo, in the outrageously large outdoor market, and cabbed all the supplies out to Pimantel. Shopping there was pretty insane, but the market folk were infinitely helpful and, I believe, infinitely amused. We had our haphazard list of supplies, which was really just a half-assed attempt at a menu that I scribbled down in the hostel that morning. We all stood in the market yelling out things we needed, and then quadrupling the quantities. “3 kilos of sweet potatoes! No, lemme see that... 5! No, give us 10! 10 kilos!” A few market people ran around gathering it all into piles for us and keeping a tally of the money. We bought people out. We bought everything. We bought so much we could barely carry it all between 8 people. And we had spent less than half our budget.
We immediately headed for the beach. It was one pm and we hadn't started cooking Thanksgiving. I started to have a moment of concern. I quickly brushed it off, grabbed a glass of wine, and started putting people to work. It took awhile to gather everyone together off the beach, but once I did, we found every available knife in the world and people started peeling and chopping potatoes and everything else. I won't go through all the details, but I spent the entire time coordinating this out-of-hand undertaking. Everyone pitched in. Everyone but me kept boozing it up. Finally, at about 7pm, people started screaming for food. We had gotten out one tray of about 40 deviled eggs a few hours earlier, which had been immediately inhaled, and besides that no one had eaten a thing. But they had had a beer or nine...
So Rob and I rushed out on the bird mission. We had decided at the market not to buy a turkey. Everyone doubted my abilities. While I still think I could have pulled it off just fine, maybe just had to spatchcock that bad boy, the back-up plan I must admit was a hundred times easier. Rob and I found the only Polleria in town and proceeded to buy all of their chickens. We bought 5 pre-cooked, cut into eighths, beautiful hot roasted chickens. This cost the entire rest of the budget, almost exactly. Perfect. By the time we returned, everyone had already forgotten how hyperbolic their hunger had been and they were back to having their own little apartment dance party. But a few soldiers had stayed in the kitchen, following the detailed instructions I had left almost an hour earlier, and dinner was almost ready.
Omar and Jeff turned into a table-moving, place-setting, food-scooping machine, and very soon we were all jammed in. The menu: Pollo a la brasa, garlic rosemary mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole (with marshmallows), stuffing, nutritional yest gravy, pureed squash soup, massive salad with an amazing avocado dressing, rolls, and apricot bars for dessert. I can't believe we pulled it off. With a few leftovers that were scooped around scrambled eggs and some not-very-good homefries I made for breafast. Mallory gave us a few words to set it off (Yay to Mallory for arranging the entire trip!) and we all went around and said what we were thankful for.
The rest of the night was just all of us enjoying seeing each other again, dancing and laughing and running around on the beach. We saw a beautiful sunset and were joined by a handful of Perú 12, 13, and 14 volunteers.
In the morning, as I mentioned, we had a quick breakfast ( I don't know how I stumbled from bed straight back into the kitchen) and then we cleaned up and moved out of the apartment. Ellen and I went to the market and bought them all out of coconuts and the rest of the day was spent sunning on the beach, our biggest concerns for the day after Thanksgiving only involving whether of not there was enough rum in our coconuts and whether or not we were going to stand up and join the football game.
Eventually, most everyone wandered off to a cevicheria, but Heather, Jimbo, Marina, and I just held down the beach. Eventually it cooled down and we moved back to the hostel. Supposedly, everyone else was out eating, but it turned out that was all a lie. They had actually met some kind South African and were partying at his flat. This apparently turned into some sort of disaster of epic proportions, with repercussions still reverberating throughout our country of service. I will just say I am glad I for once found myself in the mellow squadron.
All in all, it was a beautiful weekend. I got to see a lot of people I hadn't seen since training and that was just spectacular. I was however, happy to head back to site. When I left I had been mightily frustrated. Between parties and strikes, we were looking at a seven day work month. While I love chilling out as much as the next gringa, I love being able to work when I want to as well. I had even had to leave my site a day early for the weekend vacation, as there was a strike starting the next day that they were supposedly barricading the roads for. Pparently, they even slacked off at ever doing that.
This week though, has been one of my most productive yet. I have finally gotten myself up to a real-life full work week. I am doing some ginormous preparations for a 6 week course that I am teaching on Youth Entrepreneurship over the summer break that starts after Christmas. I am also getting ready to start courses for the English teachers here – as they are teaching some mighty poor English at the moment. I am starting a computer course for the teachers, as they have a computer lab that is sitting unused as NO ONE know how to use them and therefore cannot teach the children. Next week I am starting a group of kids on making recycled paper Christmas cards. Making the paper will translate into some half-baked enviro lesson and I hope to teach the kids some organizing skills to market out their cards.
I dunno. I think I found my new house and will move this weekend. I will share more on that later, as this is now plenty. Also, I didn't take any of those pictures. And there were some other cool ones, but it was taking UNGODLY LONG to upload (two hours for those few) so I am off.