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I teach abroad and continue to pursue the life I was given as if it was my last. Many people think it is. In my spare time, I enjoy lapping up ice cream, reading spy novels, and euthanizing manta rays.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Thanksgiving before Thanksgiving

"It is that time of year again...a time for forgiveness.. and a big ol' plate of turkey..and sausage! It's also a time to think about the kids..." 
- Will Ferrell as Robert Goulet

I am hosting 82 students and staff at my place tomorrow afternoon. Turkey, chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, matooke, pasho, spaghetti, melons, Sprite, Stoney, and Crest for all (that's Crest the soft drink, not toothpaste).

But today is really Thanksgiving. And I had a little moment this evening. Dan's gone for three days. He summoned my attention after a contentious meeting at my department head's office. I had had a rough morning, but nothing compared to his. His cousin died mysteriously yesterday. Dan was in charge of identifying the body and making arrangements for its return to their clan. The body had to be taken nearly 600 miles north to a village near the Sudanese border. Dan has a long week ahead of him. Missing my party is the least of his concerns.
His daughter, Harriet, 16, has taken over housekeeping duties. And she does it with a smile. After finishing a run, showering, and changing into my smoking jacket for the sunset, she presented me with four husks of corn.
"You cannot eat the hard ones, so I find you soft ones. I come with them. You wait..."
Harriet disappeared behind the hedges through the stalks of corn rising like an inferno. When she returned, I had my very own Thanksgiving meal without even thinking about it.
So now, having spent the last 48 hours worrying about my visa status, final exam, thanksgiving party, and the last push before Christmas, I am cooking a meal of Holland steak, basted in barbecue sauce, two ears of corn, mangoes, and a bottle of South African wine. All the while, the sky turns from fluorescent teal to purplish-orange. November sunsets are a thing of beauty here. It makes me want to go hunt rhino or sharpen a knife or something.

After dusk, throughout all of Kyambogo, boys huddle around lamp posts with empty plastic bags and bottles, hoping to catch the elusive grasshoppers. There were hundreds of them fluttering about the dim glows from street lamps.

I invited Harriet and her best friend over tomorrow for our Turkey dinner as well as a few other teachers and people that have helped me the past three months. Regardless of any differences, food and parties bring people together. And the students are so eager to help. One has donated her speakers and several hours of Ugandan music for the entertainment. Another has promised to bring her digital camera. A third asked if I needed any sweeping or dusting before people arrive. Um, yeah. BIG TIME!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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