As I'm sure all of you guys know, Thanksgiving was last Thursday. The day when everyone goes to grandma's house to eat turkey and pumpkin pie and watch football. It is something that happens every year without question. We see the gorgeous leaves scattering the ground and lots of rustic decorations and know its time to give thanks. The thing is, it's an AMERICAN holiday and im not in america!!! For the first time in my life there was no fourday weekend or cornstalk decorations. Instead I got to initiate, explain and prepare Thanksgiving. I have to admit I was a bit nervous about cooking the turkey and slightly homesick for all the aunts and uncles and cousins but in the end it was an absolute success. I stayed home from school and spent the day in the kitchen. With the help of both my parents, my exchange friend Savannah, and Dina (my neice's nanny) we pulled off a delicious feast! We had the typical American thanksgiving with turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and apple pie but then we added a Peruvian twist. We also had asado, lemon pie, rice and pallares. Mmmmmmmm mmmmmm good! We didn't end up eatting until 9:30 or 10 because everyone gets off work late but it was fabulous. :) There were 22 of us all crowded round the table eatting and laughing and generally feeling the good vibes. Savannah and I made awesome turkey decorations and explained the history of Thanksgiving. And then we went in a circle and each person said something they were thankful for. To tell you the truth I think I appreciated the significance of the holiday a whole lot more over here than I ever did in the states.
So, both of my past two weekends I got to spend camping – two very different experience but each one fun in a different way. The first weekend was a Rotary service project called handicamp. I went with my couselor to a colegio in the middle of Lima without knowing exactly what to expect. We showed up at 10 and found various groups of youth sitting with their piles of sleeping bags and backpacks. We went to say hi and talk with each group and everyone was full of positive energy. You see, this was a very special group of 60 people. They had Downs Syndrome or were mentally retarded but they were also some of the most enthusiastic, genuinely happy people I have met. I was lucky enough to spend all of Saturday and Sunday dancing, eatting, doing art projects, and playing games with these new friends. The camp wasn't terribly well organized so I got to practice my leadership and spanish skills and lead a lot of the activities too. The great thing is that they all have the spirit of champions and loving playing sports. One boy had even gone to China for the special olympics! The whole weekend was incredibly rewarding and my favorite group of students even invited me to their school dance next week. :)
The second weekend was with my good friend Valeria in the outskirts of Lima. We went to a "club" called Kankay and camped with about 20 of her extended family. When I say "club" I am refering to something more or less like a state park in the US. It has a restaurant, BBQ's, picnic tables, climbing toys, a pool, horses, four wheelers and lots of green grass and trees. Since Lima is both a extremely dry desert and a huge city going to clubs is the only opportunity to find greeness. Anyway, Valeria's family is fabulous and treats me just like their own exchange student. We played with all the cousins and ate tons of yummy food and stayed up until 4 in the morning talking and laughing by the fire. At night it was rather chilly and I had to put my sweatpants over my jeans but during the day the sun was FUERTISIMO! I managed to burn my scalp and currently have a lovely red line running down the top of my head. I’m not sure if it was all the time in the swimming pool or playing volleyball but it definitely taught me my lesson. I have to say I am a little bit scared for my poor skin this summer. I think I’ll turn out like an overcooked tomato!