What’s a girl to do when her most favorite string of holidays falls within the first 4 months of Peace Corps service?
B- Drink with other volunteers… a lot.
C- Attempt to use Ethiopian ingredients to make a bastardized version of stuffing
D- Share American culture with our communities
E- All of the above
If you chose any of these, or E, welcome to Peace Corps holidays! So far we have gone through Halloween and Thanksgiving during our pre service training. Christmas will fall within the first 2 weeks of moving to my site (that particular holiday may weigh heavily on A and B).
If anything, holidays mean our most creative sides come out. For Halloween, we happened to all be together in Addis before site visit so we organized a party in the basement of our hotel. Found pumpkins, carved them with butter knives and repurposed everything from sheets to trashcans for costumes. The costume that used the most hotel accoutrement was a tie between toilet paper mummies, and someone who came as a basketball hoop… hence the wastebasket. There were also plenty of Romans in togas. The laundry staff may have had a bit more work that week, but I think they were ok with it since we taught to hotel staff to dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. American culture sharing? Check Peace Corps Goal #2.
For Thanksgiving we were all together in Assela. This time the creativity came on the food end. Someone’s mother (god bless her soul) sent a package of stuffing. Mashed potatoes- easy. Turkey? Does not exist. Attempts at chicken were made, though that included getting someone to buy the live chicken, slit its neck, drain it, pluck it and THEN cook it. Worth it.
Side note: Two major food groups I had all the time in American but eat almost never here are chicken and cheese. I never thought I could go without them, but both are very labour intensive and so I no longer bother.
I really like Thanksgiving because it is a uniquely (north) American holiday (Canada shout out). It celebrates family and friends and is not ethnically or religiously affiliated. It sort of represents the best of America in that sense. An inclusive holiday based on over eating. Awesome. It’s interesting to explain the holiday here because almost every aspect of life is determined by sort of religious undercurrent, whether Orthodox or Muslim. To have a holiday like Thanksgiving is a nice opportunity to share some of the broader cultural themes in America.
And we were treated to a performance by a few of the volunteers from the Sagure site. What are the odds that everyone who brought instruments ended up in the same place? Musical fate. The best part is their name: The Peace Chords… awwwww.
One last thing, speaking of holidays, send me your addresses! Email me your address or post in the comments so I can write you a post card and put it in the snail mail. It will probably contain information that is over a month old, but how excited would you be if you received a postcard from your awesome friend in Ethiopia? The answer is very excited. Plus the envelopes here are very Carmen San Diego. If you want to know what that means, send me your address. When I find out my new address in Gonder you can then return the favour (life updates appreciated!).