Thanksgiving Thanks, Cleaning and School Work

This last week has been both chill and busy , busy with the important and non important stuff.

On Friday evening we had our Thanksgiving party at my place. We started cooking at the impressive hour of around 3:00, and just barely got food on the table ready before guests arrived at 7:00. While we had no turkey, we cooked mashed potatoes, turnips, meatloaf, chicken pot pie, apple and pumpkin pie, and macaroni and cheese. The expression ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ really came to life when I had 4 something volunteers squeezed into my 4 meter by 4 meter kitchen. I eventually ended up taking some appliances out the living room to do some cooking there.

With the resulting crazy , shenanigans inevitably happened. I misread the chicken pot pie recipe and had to start from scratch to make the filling, making me swear loudly. One volunteer got super hung up on deviled eggs, which for some reason took two hours to make. There were multiple trips out to the store as we ran out of flour and white wine (god forbid), luckily it’s not technically a holiday here so… stores were open. My meatloaf almost didn’t happen because of a lack of bread crumbs, but after going to several stores , one store lady took a look at my face and said “Oh, its that American holiday isn’t it?” and pulled up a bag of Japanese style bread crumbs. Its nice to know that we can share the American culture that includes mad trips to the store for ingredients we should have thought of before .

Despite the crazy, Thanksgiving went well. A total of 15 people came to my house, bring beer and strawberry compote and ate the food we made them. Some food went over really well for Mongolian taste buds – like the mashed turnips, potatoes, meatloaf ( I’m making that again for sure) and chicken pot pie. Others were more of a novelty and only got eaten a little bit – like the pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and gravy. Which was fine, it means more leftovers for me.

Of course we all went around saying what we were thankful for this year. I think I said something a long the lines of ” I’m thankful for the Mongolian friends I have – Moving to a different country can be difficult but the friends make it easy”. Other volunteers were thankful for their friends, families back home, hardworking counterparts, and good sitemates. Our guests were thankful for the food and being invited, basically saying I’m happy for coming. Thanks were said in Mongolian and English , and I’m glad that we got to share one of my favorite holidays to people that have been so hospitable to us.

When our Mongolian friends left, the rest of us volunteers stayed up a little later playing party games and indulging in the gifts that people had brought (read – lots of wine and beer) . We all crashed shortly after that , and I spent the rest of my weekend mostly cleaning… and more cleaning. Let me just say I’m never going to be more grateful for a dishwasher then I will be when I go back to the states. Seriously, they are amazing machines.

And so the rest of the week went on . I’m organizing a spelling contest for 6th graders and a culture contest for our 9th graders. I have been working with the elementary teachers at my school to improve some activities they have concerning self esteem, especially on the part of soum kids who are living away from home. I hopefully will get my act together and organize the culture fair for all schools this coming month. Before I know it I will be on vacation, and then it will be February, March, April , May , June and July… and then I will be done.

SO STRANGE. Must not dwell.

I do get a small respite however. Saturday I will get flown to the capital to get my flu shot ( I know its very timely) and come back Tuesday. Its one of the many things that the Peace Corps Medical office is required to do for us, which means volunteers like me, out in the hinterlands get the opportunity to spend a couple days in Ulaan Baatar, and actually see other people. Friends will be around as well, which I’m very excited about, as the next time I will see them will probably be for our Close of Service conference in April. For the couple days I am there though I will definitely see about eating some Indian food, splurging on a movie and enjoying that little break from site.

With that, I will leave you with a quote that I stumbled across, and actually makes me want to read ” The Stranger”, it really encapsulates how I’m feeling at least at this very moment about winter and my second year … it goes “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” – Albert Camus, The Stranger

Happy December everyone! – V.

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