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.

            So I did take some shortcuts, and our Thanksgiving meal wasn’t nearly as good as the homemade meal I was missing back home, but it felt good!  We wanted to make it an intimate affair.  (We never really have huge gatherings for Thanksgiving back home.)  So we just invited our neighbor, David, to join us.  It was just perfect.  We had the right amount of food to stuff us thoroughly and plenty of leftovers to last the weekend.  I didn’t feel overwhelmed by guests in our studio apartment and I could take pride in the meal that I (almost) single-handedly created!  (Disclaimer: David not only totally made the green bean casserole, he also let me use his toaster oven all day so I could have two ovens running simultaneously.)  I could barely hide my seething envy when I saw the massive golden brown turkey, bursting with stuffing, that my parents made that afternoon and held up to the computer while we were Skyping.  But I’m content knowing that I’ll have Christmas dinner with my loving family.
            On Black Friday, Ivan, David and I had second Thanksgiving at a friend’s house.  This was a pot luck style meal, featuring an exquisite lobster macaroni and cheese dish, as well as thick slices of deli turkey!  What fun times!  I’m so happy we were included in their celebration.  And I look forward to doing it again next year.
Dinner time! Notice David licking his lips, Mark looking expectant, Ryan queuing up and Marieke ready to be referee

            Well, that was the big story.  The rest is just little stories.
            Little story one: After serving as Volunteer Coordinator on the Significant Others Organization Board this term, I’ve decided to resign my position and pursue other interests, like photography, painting and writing (and perhaps a new hobby or two if I can find the time).  I will be serving on the SGU Photography Club’s board next term as the Internal Communications Officer, though, which suits me just fine.
            Little story two: I made something new!  I bought a bag of “sorrel” from the grocery store to try my hand at sorrel tea.  Before I continue, I should note that I no longer take for granted the common name locals refer to fruits and vegetables (i.e. genip is a skinnup or chinup, sugar bananas are called rock figs, culantro [that is not a misspelling] is known as shadow benny, Scotch Bonnets are just called hot peppers, etc.).  The plant locally referred to as “sorrel” is in fact roselle, a plant in the hibiscus family.  Its fruit resembles a small but thick tulip in shape and is a rich crimson color.  The fruit is boiled with spices and sugar, allowed to soak overnight, then strained into a container.  The tea (which was entirely opaque) is then served as is, or with rum.  Straight, I found it bitter.  With rum, Ivan enjoyed it.
            Little story three: On Monday I had a great time photographing a couple friends who will be leaving the island for good in December.  Sarah and Elvis were a blast to work with, though I will miss them a lot.  They’re from New Jersey and intend to head back there for clinical rotations.  Hopefully Ivan and I can see them when we do our rotations in New York!

            In exactly one week, Ivan will have his first final!  We are absolutely in countdown mode now.  We have less than three weeks before we’re back on a plane, flying home for a much anticipated break!  I can’t get over how quickly this term seemed to pass.  I definitely kept more busy than last spring, with being on the board, being more involved in activities, living on campus and being more social.  Moving on campus was the best decision we made.  It’s undeniably more expensive, but I feel a lot more free and safe (not to mention comfortable in the A/C!).  We have friends in our building and the bus stop is almost at our doorstep.  Ivan doesn’t have to worry about being late for class and it is so much easier to carry sixty eggs back to the dorm when we live right next to the “egg guy’s” selling spot!  (I know some friends will get a kick out of that.)  If our budget for the month is looking good, we can swing by the Student Centre, right below our dorm, and buy a pizza or get an amazing smoothie from New York Bagel ($10ec and I highly recommend the mango/banana or peanut butter/chocolate).
            With everything that’s been going on, I sort of feel like I’m rocketing through time.  (Cue Space Oddity—why does that song come to mind when I think about this term?  I guess if I’m crashing, it’s going to be a good crash, back home!)  All of a sudden, it’s almost time for my last visit to Queen Elizabeth Home for Children, or my last board meeting, or the end-of-term social, or my last visit to the GSPCA, or my last game night with friends, or my last chance to say goodbye to my fifth term buddies.
            Then I think of Christmastime back home and the fuzzy glow of tree lights, and the smell of cinnamon and vanilla and anise, and warm spiced wine, and my breath lingering in the cold air, and piles of glossy wrapping paper and ribbons while the kids play with their new toys, and friends laughing in sweaters and boots, and the enchanting silence in the evenings when thousands of snowflakes collapse on the world… and I think, I’m feeling very still right now
            I’m ready.

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