To the family and friends that read this blog I must apologize because I have not written in awhile. I have not even written about Thanksgiving which seems like such a long time ago! So we`ll start there:)
The week before Thanksgiving the three Americans at Taricaya (Zack, Heather, and I) came up with a brilliant plan. We were to prepare a Thanksgiving feast for anyone that would chip in 10 soles to buy supplies. It turned out everyone wanted in... which means we had to prepare a meal for 32 people! We were up to the challenge though, even though none of us had ever made a whole Thanksgiving meal and supplies in the jungle are rather scarce. So the day before Thanksgiving Zack, Heather, and I went to the market with one of our cooks (Reina) who led us to all the desired supplies. We were in the market for what seemed like forever and had a ridiculous 10 minute conversation in our broken spanish about how many kilos of gord (our makeshift replacement for pumpkin in our pie) we needed. We don`t know kilos and we didn`t know how much we would need for 3 cups of pumpkin away so we debated and debated. Finally, we got everything all sorted out and overall the experience was rather fun. A big surprise is that we actually found a turkey!! We couldn`t believe we found one because a lot of the staff members said we wouldn`t find one this time of year. Reina was a huge help in finding all our supplies and we owe her a lot of credit for the success of the meal.
That night Zack, Heather, and I started preparing for the next days feast. Heather and I made our pumpkin pie filling, while Zack brined the turkey and 2 chickens we got. Thanksgiving Day started out with a bunch of us having to unload wood from the boat at 5:30am. After that was done and we showered (it would have been gross to cook like that, yes we do have some civilized thoughts in the jungle) Heather and I started the pie crust. I had to leave before it was done because I signed up for bow and arrow making. How perfect for Thanksgiving! Enrique (we go to his farm for Papaya), his son Melvi, and his son`s wife and beautiful daughter all came to show us how to make bows and arrows. Enrique is part of a native tribe, but they started robbing to make a living so Enrique decided to become a farmer instead. He speaks his native tribe`s language while Melvi speaks both the tribes language and spanish. They started out bow and arrow making by cutting a certain type of palm. The palm is very hard to cut horizontally but rather easy to cut vertically because theat`s the way the fibers run. They each gave us a long piece of palm and we were directed to cut the inside of the palm out by making diagonal slices. After that was done, Enrique shaped the bow for me and showed me how to scrape the outside bark layer off. I was one of the first one`s done so went back to help Heather for a bit. Heath was finishing up making up an apple crisp and her and Lucy had finished making the pie crusts. She popped the apple crisp into the oven while I put the pie filling into the pies. Then I went back to bow and arrow making to get my bow strung. I really want to learn the knot used because it`s crazy. By the time I got back to the kitchen it was time to put the pies in. The pies took longer than expected to cook so we had to take them out a little early because the turkey was supposed to take 7 hours to cook! All we could do was wait until later to make all the other stuff so Zack and I went back to bow and arrow making. Enrique had sadly already made the arrows and we were just going to decorate them. I really was sad I didn`t get to make the arrows. The way we decorated them was pretty cool though. They had this black tar from a tree in a chunk and you smeared it on the spot where the arrow connected with the longer wood. Then you chose the string you wanted and bit the end to hold it and smear the tar on that too. After that we just wrapped the string around the arrow. I chose purple and gold (Panther Pride!!) and neon green and pink because it looked sweet haha. After we were done making them Victorian tought me how to shoot it. I really want to learn how to shoot a bow and arrow well.
At 5 we started to cook again. Zack started pealing potatoes with some other volunteers, while I cooked the pumpkin seeds and Heather cooked the popcorn. It got dark rather early so we were cooking by headlamp haha. After the popcorn was fully popped we started shelling peas with Lucy. It was great because then a bunch of people started volunteering so we assigned them to different things like moving and setting tables and pealing and cutting carrots. I started boiling the peas and carrots while Heather assigned various tasks to make her stuffing. Time was moving by fast, but with all the help we got we got everything done on time. It was a really fun time and it felt like we were a big family all cooking together. There was such a good vibe everywhere:) At about 7 Heather set out the popcorn and seeds as appetizers, while we put the finishing touches on everything. When everything was finally ready we gathered everyone together and explained that everyone had to say something they were thankful for. We all held hands in an odd shaped circle and gave thanks. Everyone`s thanks were really heart felt. I almost cried of happiness when Nando said thank you for believing in their cause at Taricaya and volunteering. When everyone was done we served up the grub:) It was delicious!!!! It was one of the best Thanksgiving meals I`ve ever had. We also made this amazing apple cider. We used pear juice, apple concentrate, cinnamon, clove, various tea bags, and pressure cooked apple and orange skins. I don`t even like apple cider, but this was addictive. It was also very heart felt beccause we got so many Thank Yous from all the volunteers. It was most of the volunteer`s first Thanksgiving and first experience with pumpkin pie. One of the volunteers from England said she is taking that tradition back home. Oh and for dessert we had jello, chocolate cake, apple tart, and pumpkin pie. People raved about the pumpkin pie. It was the best I`ve ever had.
It`s amazing as you travel you realize how small the world is. A couple weekends ago, 10 Americans were staying in our hostel. Their leader knew where Wenatchee was! He is from Arizona, but was a forest ranger in North Bend. They had also volunteered at the school in Cuzco where me and Heather will volunteer starting in January! And one of the German girls staying at Taricaya has an older sister who did an exchange in Wenatchee 10 years ago. It`s a small world after all (song stuck in your head now?) ;)
Sadly, this is all I have left written in my first journal. I`m a couple weeks behind, but have a list of events that have happend; I just haven`t written about them yet. I`m out of room in my first journal, but my wonderful mother, who I love dearly, sent me another one. This will be my last entry for awhile because Heather and I will be traveling until January 3rd.