Quite the opposite of what most people expect for a Thanksgiving away from home, I had an amazing day and hardly missed my family at all. Thanksgiving here was all about embracing that it would be very different, and shared with very different people, and trying to enjoy what was really happening rather than compare it to what was going on at the same time at home.
My best friend here, Maeve, is another girl my age from the US. The two of us decided that we WOULD make Thanksgiving happen this year for the exchange students in Guayaquil. Soon word got out, and a few of our friends from other cities wanted to join us as well for the meal, and soon we were cooking our first Thanksgiving dinner for fourteen people.
It is a little embarrassing how proud we are of what we accomplished with such a small amount of experience and time.
Wednesday night, we transformed into American moms. We went out grocery shopping and went a little overboard in the vegetable department. We must have had five pounds or more of potatoes, two heads of cauliflower, a huge bag of beans, the list goes on. We also are stupid American girls who don't know the metric system yet, and when it came to buying a turkey, bought a 9.7 kilogram turkey. At the time it looked about right for 14 people, and we don't really know much about any of this. After paying our 93 dollar bill (food is stupidly cheap here, we thought we might've accidentally stolen a few things) we got back to Maeve's house and looked up the conversion for 9.7 kilograms to pounds…. its 22 pounds.
We had another stupid girl moment when we got home and realized that we may have bought walnuts instead of pecans for our pecan pie…but we just used the nuts we had, it tasted fine but I'm still not really sure what kind of nut we used. (My family thinks this part of the story is hilarious)
So Thursday came and we got to our friend's house who was hosting the feast at 11:30 to start the turkey. Luckily, there were two kitchen staff from the house in there cooking and they helped us with this bit. I personally wasn't as strong as I thought I was when it came to the turkey. I'm a vegetarian, but I don't really have much problem touching meat or anything, what I do have a problem with is cleaning out blood from the inside of the bird…. so I made an apple pie instead of helping with that bit.
But from then on, for about seven straight hours we were cooking! I was so impressed that we got this all done and with perfect timing. For dinner we made the turkey, mashed potatoes, roasted veggies (carrots, green beans, onions, peppers, zucchini), a roasted cauliflower dish, and steamed asparagus. For desert we made pecan pie, an apple pie, and an apple crisp. Phew.
Not to mention that it was about 90 degrees all day, in a house without air conditioning. It was really really hot. Not that I expected anything else from Guayaquil, but it certainly added to the struggle of the day.
There were also hats involved- It was very important to me that there be pilgrim and indian hats. So I had everyone sit at a craft table I set up and make the hats. All the kids from Europe (France and Germany) wore the pilgrim hats, and the Americans all got indian hats. It definitely paid off because the hats were hilarious and made me very happy.
So around 6:30 everything was ready. We brought it all outside to the patio which had been set up very beautifully for our feast. Before we got our food, we all stood in a circle and held hands and went around sharing what we were thankful for this year. The resounding theme when giving thanks was how thankful we were to have each other. To be on such an amazing adventure surrounded by such wonderful people. It really was a great feeling, although it wasn't the love from my family that I usually feel on Thanksgiving, I didn't feel lonely at all as I felt the love from all of my new friends here!
So we all sat down with our food, said a prayer, and dug in to a truly delicious meal. Everything really tasted wonderful. Not to sound cocky, but Maeve and I did an amazing job, and I'm really so proud of making that night happen. It was one of my happiest days I've had here so far, and definitely a day I will never forget.