I feel that I often turn to this blog to write entries in which I hope the reader will feel some measure of sympathy for me. Whether I'm writing about being stuck on a bus for 36 hours, communication mishaps, or, most recently, how sick I've been lately, I'm definitely seeking a pat on the back and some comforting words.
If you don't have any comforting words for me after this post, I understand.
Celebrating the holidays in Peru is strange. Not just because of the cultural and climate differences but also because I've never celebrated the holidays apart from my family before. I recently realized that I never discussed Thanksgiving or Christmas on the blog so we're going to travel back in time to review those holidays and then fly back to the present to talk about Easter.
We lucked out with Thanksgiving because right after Thanskgiving weekend we were having a training here in the beautiful land of Ancash. This meant that all of my youth development friends were able to travel here on Peace Corps money.
I had requested that we have a 5K Turkey Trot to carry on family tradition. Well, John William took my 5K idea and ran with it... our small volunteer Turkey Trot and dinner was suddenly going to involve at least forty people, though we had no idea how many people were actually goign to show up to eat. Compounded by the fact that JW and I have never cooked a Thanksgiving meal... well, let's just say that we had some pretty interesting planning meetings!
Since most of our friends arrived Thanksgiving morning we postponed our Thanksgiving meal to Saturday. On Thursday we celebrated with this awesome spread: pizza, mac and cheese, fruit salad, and brownies.
Friday was spent grocery shopping and doing prep work in Jangas (John William's site and Thanksgiving base camp). Okay, that's a lie actually. Some people did that... I held down the fort in Huaraz and played an epic game of Scrabble at Cafe Andino with some friends. But other people were working and their hard work should not go unacknowledged.
Saturday we woke up bright and early to get to Jangas in time for the 5K. It was hilly and at altitude but still a lot of fun. And we had a great turn out!
All the 5K runners
We cooked and baked all afternoon (I actually did help this time) and ended up with a great Thanksgiving spread. I give almost all of the credit to Ian who blessed us with amazing things like pineapple glazed carrots and rosemary garlic mashed potatoes.
We had a great turn out. The tables were shaped like a "U" so there was another table just like this on the other side of the room too.
Take note of the speakers in back. There were more on the other side of the room too.
Our Peruvian companeros wanted to have a dance party after the meal. More accurately, they wanted to drink beer, play loud music and watch us dance. We obliged.
Thanksgiving 2010 was a hit and before we left we were already planning Thanksgiving 2011 in my friend Erin's beach site.
Christmas Eve is historically my favorite day of the whole year. I love getting together with family, the anticipation of Christmas Day, and the feelings of goodwill and cheer. So I knew that Christmas Eve was going to be almost impossible. My host family invited me to supper with them but it took me about an hour to walk from my bedroom door to the kitchen because I had to keep stopping to cry. It was horrible.
After a tasty supper of turkey, sweet potatoes, and yellow potatoes, I went back to my bedroom. At the time, I was re-watching all of the Grey's Anatomy seasons so I put on the next episode and crawled into bed. Turns out the next episode was the one where a guy comes and goes on a shooting spree in Seattle Grace. Just the thing to get you in the Christmas spirit... NOT!
I woke up bright and early on Christmas Day and walked down to the main highway to catch a combi. John William's family was out visiting so I met them at their hotel and had a nice breakfast. We eventually headed to JW's site to watch him in a Christmas play. Now, I've been to a number of Christmas performances in my life but none of them involved demons and fireworks or Germans in black face.
Yes, that is JW in the white robe.
For lunch, John William's host mom served us all soup and cuy. We headed to Huaraz in the afternoon and went out for curry for supper. Really, the only "traditional" part of my Christmas was playing Sheephead while we waited for our food.
After supper, Kyle, Elke, Vero, and I hit a discotecha which played a John Travolta medley.
Christmas 2010 was alright but I'm hoping to spend Christmas 2011 in America. It's just not the same.
For Semana Santa (holy week), Peace Corps gives us four "free" vacation days. Some friends and I decided the the only way to use these days was to go to Mancora, a beach town in northern Peru.
After almost 20 hours on buses and a Pizza Hut filled day in Trujillo, we were dropped off at the side of the road in Mancora. It was 5 in the morning, but we lucked out and we able to check in to our room right away. After showers and a short rest we hit the beach. Our first order of business - surf classes.
I know what you're thinking. "Beth? On a surf board? She broke her foot walking down a flight of stairs." I had very similar thoughts but decided to give it a try anyway. The classes guarenteed that you would stand up on your board during the hour in the water or they would give you your money back. What did I have to lose?
That is not me.
I was able to stand up twice during the hour class and it was a lot of fun. If (when) I go back to Mancora I definitely want to take more classes.
Overall, we spent four days in Mancora. I'm not going to do a day to day breakdown but I will say that our days turned into a pleasant blur of lying on the beach, swimming in the ocean, boogie boarding, walks by the water, swimming in the pool, rum slushies, Thai food, and dancing on the beach at night. In short, it was close to the perfect vacation.
I'm back in Ancash now and heading back to site this afternoon. I'll be back in Huaraz next Monday through Wednesday for a training so send me some e-mails!