Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ground Control to Major Tom

            The big story and the reason why you tuned in for this blog is Thanksgiving (and not at all to do with the pop legend title reference, right?).  This was my first big holiday in Grenada.  Well, except for Easter, I suppose.  But as I spent most of last term miserable and perpetually anemic from mosquitoes, I was less than enthusiastic when Easter rolled around and, if my memory serves me correctly, I believe I spent the holiday crying.
            Since I’m having a considerably better term this fall, I actually felt the drive to create (as best possible) a traditional Thanksgiving.  “Traditional Thanksgiving” to many may imply the inclusion of turkey.  Ah, but this is Grenada, folks and, even if I did have a full-sized oven, there was no flippin’ way I was going to buy a turkey at these prices!
            Even so, we did still enjoy chicken breasts, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, flaky biscuits, corn, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie!  I’d like to take credit for slaving over this meal all day, but I had to cut some corners.  IGA, our primary grocery store, is notorious for running out of the particular item you absolutely must have!  Knowing this, I wondered what problems the grocer would have in the week that preceded Thanksgiving.  Many of the American students would be collecting their holiday meal items at the same time.  Concerned as I was that IGA wouldn’t have something I needed to prepare our meal, I began stocking up on supplies early.  So I bought instant mashed potatoes weeks before Thanksgiving in the off chance that IGA wouldn’t have fresh potatoes the week before the holiday.  I bought Stove Top stuffing, Pillsbury Grands biscuits, canned sweet potatoes, a premade pie crust, a jar of Heinz gravy (made in Pittsburgh!!).  The only thing I didn’t skimp on was the pumpkin for the pie.  That I bought fresh, then boiled and mashed myself.
I combined these two as a topping for the pumpkin pie. So good!

The wishbone, which was the highlight of the night for David.
Mid-bite... sort of.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ending My Time Loop

            I’m having the hardest time reconciling the passage of time with the lack of seasons in Grenada.  I’m from northwestern Pennsylvania where Thanksgiving is marked by steadily cooling weather, the first frosts that tip the grass white, clear bags of mulched leaves at the curb, black skeletal trees stripped of their leaves.  I’m supposed to have unpacked my black wool jacket, mounds of hats and scarves, unearthed my driving gloves, made an appointment to have winter tires put on my car.  When I step outside, my breath should come out in white puffs and the air should feel crisp and thin in my lungs.
I miss this...

            I just can’t quite come to terms with the date when I look outside every day and see the same blue sky, glaring sun, glittering water and vivid green leaves.  Something seems oddly amiss when I put on sunscreen in November.  And let’s not even get started on how bizarre I feel wearing a swimsuit one week before Thanksgiving.  As often as I check my calendar and understand that time is, genuinely passing, I still can’t shake the feeling that I’ve been dropped in a looping hot summer day.
            Folks back home that envy my position, being in “paradise” (totally not my word for Grenada), know that the novelty wears off.  The beaches are beaches, and as nice as they may be, if you’re used to (and hence comforted by) the changing seasons as I am, after a year, you’d trade in those beaches for a nice piece of frozen home.  Call me crazy if you want; when our plane lands on December 19th in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I am going to run outside and stuff my bare hands in the first pile of snow I can find.
            In short, yes, I am considerably homesick.  I’m dying to hug my family and friends, before throwing snowballs at them.  Less than five weeks…

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Trip into Town

            Most evenings, Ivan and I follow dinner with a walk around campus.  We try (not always successfully) to drag along our downstairs neighbor, David, who is happy for the break, when he can afford it.  Towards the end of our walk, we pass the black sand beach which is west of campus and gated off (with barbed wire and locks and chains), for what I would assume are safety reasons.  A couple weeks ago I took my SLR along for the walk, with the intent of snapping a few pictures of the very full, very large moon that hung on the horizon.  Unfortunately, by the time we got to the western edge of campus, and an ideal spot to take a photo, clouds had overtaken the moon and the moment was lost.  As we walked by the black sand beach, though, I saw a red hazy spot on the horizon, where the moon’s light cast a sort of sunset glow from behind the clouds.  I went up to the fence, hunkered down and started taking photos.  As they waited, Ivan and David began to notice movement in the grass around me.  As it turned out, I’d waltzed right into a whole colony of hermit crabs!
            The glaring full moon may have dipped out of sight, but I didn’t regret taking my nicer camera that evening after the opportunity for such funny pictures!

Black sand beach and a red moon glare