Thanksgiving i thought that since we were ...
Trip Start Aug 13, 2002
116Trip End Nov 20, 2004
I thought that since we were celebrating a few days after the real holiday, it would feel sort of fake. Not at all! We actually managed a Thanksgiving that was just as good as anything we could have had back home - except for the families and friends we all miss.
People started arriving Friday afternoon. Dara and I showed them around Navoi a little. We went to cafés for dinner as various little groups were coming in and then hung out getting caught up on what our sites are like on Friday night. Seemed like the "old days" of PST! One group coming from Tashkent arrived by train at about 5:00 AM and I went to meet them and brought them home for a short rest. Everyone else came on Saturday as we prepared for a nice evening dinner
I actually had to teach on Saturday morning. (I could have asked for the day off but figured I'd rather save that for a time when I was traveling for the weekend.) When I left the house in the morning, we had various side dishes arranged and one small turkey coming from Dara's house. Shavkat's father had offered to help us get another turkey from the market but then got called into work (he's a newspaper photographer). So, Sofia and Alice ventured to the market to try to get a good deal on a turkey - hopefully dead and cleaned.
When I got home at 12:30, things were really shaping up. The turkey was a decent size. To prepare it, we dipped into the medical kits - using a syringe to baste and wrapping it in gauze to keep it moist. Props here have to go to Jordan and Jett for taking charge of the turkeys and many of the side dishes. We had 2 kitchens going at once at my house and Dara's. People brought mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables, mashed pumpkin, corn, stuffing, biscuits, it went on and on. And we just kept creating magic in the kitchen. Someone came up with a bag of dried cranberries from home that we were able to turn into a delicious cranberry and raisin dish. I managed to find a bunch of lettuce at the market and made a huge salad with tomatoes, carrots, grilled eggplant and cucumbers
There were a few locals there -Shavkat's family, Nodira and Dara's host sister. Nodira brought some pumkin monti (like ravioli) that her mom made. We had lots of non and people from Bukhara brought some great tea from the famous Spice Man of Bukhara. Afterwards, the locals told me how interesting it was to see the American holiday in action. Some things that really struck them were the men cooking and how everyone served themselves - unheard of in Uzbekistan where the guests are always completely waited on. And all the food! We told them ahead of time that Thanksgiving was all about eating and eating and eating. I guess they didn't really believe it until they saw it all. Like any proper Thanksgiving, we were all completely stuffed but couldn't pass on the delicious pumpkin and apple pies.
Of course we gave thanks before the meal. For our families and friends back home, for the wonderful people we've met here, for this challenging experience and mostly for each other and the support we share.
All in all, we were about 30 people. That included my kitty and Stephanie's puppy that she brought all the way from Samarkand. We realized that because of our situation and the closeness we developed during training that we really are like a family. During the day, we were cooking, hanging out, checking out the city and getting shamelessly drunk. By the end of dinner, there were some emotional outburts, some family type bickering, some dysfunctional behavior and lots of love. Just what Thanksgiving is all about, right?