November 22nd, 2012
Thanksgiving was really awesome for me this year. I have a lot to be thankful for.
For the past three years the American Embassy has hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for the entire American community here in Swaziland, with Peace Corps making up the majority. This year, however, there was a changeover in Ambassadors, and thankfully the new Ambassador was still game for inviting the 70+ Peace Corps Volunteers and staff over for dinner. However it was just us and the Ambassador this year. The new Ambassador gave the Embassy staff the option to come celebrate with us or to celebrate at their homes. I actually really enjoyed the slightly smaller crowd this year, but since it was just PC it was up to PC to supply all the food. Well everything except the meat, the Ambassador supplied that.
Myself along with 4 other G9 PCVs were recruited to help our Country Director’s (our boss) wife and our Administration Officer make all the fixings of a Thanksgiving meal. Addy was also recruited and her and I, plus Addy’s husband Ryan and our friend Libby who were in Mbabane (they edit our monthly Peace Corps Volunteer publication), got to camp out at our Country Director’s house for 4 days/3 nights. And by camp out I mean we slept in a bed that was softer then a cloud and had full access to all the modern amenities (showers, internet, television). It was the best stay-cation ever!!! We were treated to home cooked meals, had running hot water to do dishes with, slept without the fear of bugs, and didn’t have to haul water. It was amazing - I am tearing up just thinking about it.
We did work for our stay though – but not too hard. We spent a day and half baking half of what we needed. The other three PCVs were at the other house baking away on the other half. We made 2 pans cheesy potatoes, 2 pans baked potatoes, 2 pans oven baked beans, 2 pans green bean casserole, 3 pans stuffing, 2 bowls green salad, 2 cheese and fruit platters, 3 made from scratch pumpkin pies (actually butternut squash – no pumpkin here this time of year), 2 pans apple crumble, and 2 to-die for chocolate pudding and brownie trifles. Once all said and done I think between our two houses cooking and the Ambassador we had 20 dessert options (sadly only two of which I could eat).
Even though I had limited options, it was still so, so, so delicious. I ate way to much as expected. The Ambassador not only had turkey but also ham. I have no idea where she found a ham because I sure have not had it once since leaving the States – it was so amazing. It was my first time meeting the new Ambassador, who if you didn’t pick up is a woman, and she is really cool, very friendly, open and approachable. I am very thankful that even though she is new to Swaziland she opened her house to us PCVs.
It helps to feel like you have a family to celebrate with even when we are so far away from our own families. PC Swaziland has really become a great family. I am truly thankful for my group, Group 9 volunteers. We started with 39 in my group and we are now down to 24 still in Swaziland. We have become really close over the last year and a half and I wouldn’t change them for the world. I am also thankful for PC Swaziland staff for helping make PC Swaziland feel like a family. The staff really becomes our surrogate parents; they are whom we call when everything is falling apart, but as of lately they have also become friends, mentors, and guides, as life after PC is getting closer and closer for us G9ers.