A Long Anticipated Surprise

Hello all and sorry for the delay!

It’s been a hot minute since I posted something here but so I figured today was a good a time as ever as I have had a lot of events occur recently and I have a surprise to announce……But we’ll cover recent event first!

Thanksgiving happened and it went better then I could have ever expected….really I think better then what anyone expected. Yes we had food, so much in fact I filled my plate once and then went back for seconds. I believe in my last post I said a girl named Cate from my regions offered to host the event because her house is large enough to fit everyone and as an added bonus she lives with a host family that loves to have her American friends come visit! The morning of the dinner the family offered to get us a fresh off the auction goat as well as a chicken, which they graciously cleaned and cooked for us. The goat they cooked in three separate ways; a soup, dry roasted, and in a sort of gravy, although we only had the soup for lunch and the rest we received for dinner. Everyone that came to the dinner offered to make or bring some sort of dish so we all spent the day preparing those things for that night. When night arrived we compiled our creations and found ourselves with a perfect mash up of traditional American Thanksgiving foods as well as some Tanzanian favorites cooked by the host family. The various goat dishes mentioned previously were present along with mashed potatoes, from scratch rolls and stuffing, a summer salad, pilau (a Tanzanian rice dish typically with some spices, meat, and potatoes), and finally 2 from scratch pumpkin pies made by yours truly (from scratch even down to the cutting and boiling of the pumpkin to make the filling). We took turns loading up our plates and then all piled into the living room and ate happily! I am happy to announce that all the Tanzanians invited loved my pumpkin pie, some even going in for second helpings! We spent the rest of the evening laughing and telling stories while of course drinking some of Tanzania’s finest beer (I’m hoping if you know me well enough you can detect the excessive amount of sarcasm in my brain while writing the previous comment about the beer). All in all I would say that Thanksgiving this year was a massive success, it was fun to have a large group of Americans sharing our culture and having it be received so positively!

When Thanksgiving was over it was only natural to immediately begin thinking about Christmas, so when I returned to my village I decided I was going to try and cook what I thought was a simple and classic American Christmas treat, caramel popcorn balls. Man was a mistaken; not only did normal ingredients we take for granted in the states prove hard to find, it was also very difficult to find the right temperate at which to boil the caramel concoction to and as fate would have it I overcooked it and it became a hard gritty texture on the popcorn instead of a soft elastic substance. Really I blame this Christmas candy tragedy on my parents and ill tell you why; my mom and grandma for as long as I have known have made candy seasonally, they love looking up new desserts and trying them for holidays, get-togethers, really whenever they have the chance so naturally I felt it right to try and make some sort of treat. And my dad is a sort of Bill Nye of foods, never uses a recipe makes up his own stuff in hopes it will work out for the best. With the combination of the both I attempted to replace ingredients that should never be replaced while boiling them to a soft candy ball temperature (the recipe assured me I would be able to read the temperature on a candy thermometer but you think I got one of those bad boys?!) all with the intention of creating something tasty to give a few of my close friends in my vill. At the end of the day I didn’t think it was great but everyone I gave it to either really disagreed with me and liked it or just put on a straight face and made me happy in to moment so I am appreciative for that! On the note of creating, I made a homemade Christmas tree out of flip chart paper and some not so quality markers to spice up my home for this festive holiday season, you know it really shines next to all the American Christmas decorations I was sent….NOT because no one sent me any (not bitter at all)!

In reference to my last post as well about my garden, I HAVE FINIHSED IT! With one more day of hard work I dug the rest of the garden, added fertilizer to increase the nutrients of the soil, and planted corn and pumpkins we’ll see how that works out!

This last week I went to the most amazing training where we learned about various agricultural topics and nutrition basics to bring back to our villages. With this training my counterpart and I plan on planting a garden at the clinic with orange flesh sweet potatoes on one plot and a tree nursery on the other. We learned about the amazing powers of the moringa trees and how to use them in everyday life. We plan on planting the garden and then creating monthly lessons to teach with HIV positive patients as well as pregnant and lactating mothers. Each month we will teach one lesson for the whole month and when a new month comes we will create a new lesson. Myself and a couple other volunteers ended the week by celebrating a close friends birthday by surprising him with a cake. It was a great way to end an amazing training and an even better start to the surprise that I have been hold out on…..

Without further a-do, and now that everyone I was trying to surprise knows…. I CAME HOME, but just for the holidays so don’t get too crazy. My parents and I have actually been planning this trip since mid September so it’s been a long time coming and extremely difficult to keep quiet. Next time I write a post I will dedicate it solely to my trip home so for now that’s all I got for ya!

As always,

-Peace Out, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

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