Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving in Rwanda

Don’t you fear, I was still able to celebrate America’s best holiday while in Rwanda. CCHIPs invited about 30 people over, including Americans (of course), Rwandans, French, Germans, and South Koreans, for an afternoon of Kill Bill II and appetizers, and an early dinner of ridiculous portions and variety of the classic Thanksgiving dishes. It would have been more, had most of the NGOs in Musanze not been busy repatriating gorillas to Congo…nbd. Zack’s mom came to visit and packed with her Thanksgiving decorations galore and all the American necessities for a good meal: cranberries, brie, and wasabi vegetable dip. (Okay, maybe not necessities, but all fabulous.) We were also armed with all the Thanksgiving meal makings that came in a package from my mother: 2 pie pans, pie crust mix, canned pumpkins, canned cherries, gravy packets, boxes of stuffing, canned green beans, mushroom soup, fried onion rings, canned cranberry sauce, and instant mashed potatoes.* (I hid the hollandaise sauce for later/Eggs Benedict.)
Pros of celebrating Thanksgiving in Rwanda: Ability to talk about how happy the first Thanksgiving of Pilgrims and Indians was without anybody correcting me; Killing my own turkey.
Cons of celebrating Thanksgiving in Rwanda: The power went out an hour before dinner started, making carving the turkey really hard and identifying the dishes harder; the kitchen sink got overwhelmed and broke, making clean-up the next day a ridiculous mess of bucket washing dishes; not seeing my family.
Memorable cultural interaction: As the Americans were destroying the FOUR baked bries, eating each in one bite per person, Marvin explained to the Frenchmen present: “See, this is what Americans do to French things: we take something that you think is really good, and we make it better.”
Line that most made me miss my brother/Dan Wheelock: Given that we had French and Germans present…and we were watching The Expendables: “Don’t worry about it; Americans are used to covering for the French.”
Traumatic experience of the evening: Watching Zack’s mom bring out the canned cranberry sauce – which she had mashed up with real cranberries to make it look less…processed. I had joked with her earlier in the evening about how the ridges in the cranberry sauce were my favorite part of Thanksgiving. She either did not take me seriously, or doesn’t love me.
Most adult experience of the evening: Not crying when I saw the non-ridge cranberry sauce.
Frattiest experience: Almost instantaneously turning one of the “dining tables” (aka, office table) into a pong table after dinner, courtesy of a package from Abbe Sokol and an appearance by Dani Levin.
Déjà vu/are you me personified in an older man experience: Libbey’s roommate lost his phone on the bus from Kigali to Musanze, so he just showed up in Musanze and started looking around for a Thanksgiving party. I was oddly reminded of the time I did this in the Hamptons for 4th of July.
I-love-my-brothers experience: Both times I Skyped with my family on Thanksgiving day and during Mitchapalooza, John had a beer in hand. Better, John couldn’t actually talk with me during Mitchapalooza because he was on table. I back those priorities, but now that I can play pong at my house, we need to figure out a way to Skype-pong – 4D communication anyone?
*Please note: Potatoes is the staple dish of Rwanda. 

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