Guys. I got to celebrate Thanksgiving three times this year. And got to eat stuffing and pumpkin pie TWICE!
As an ETA in Indonesia, Thanksgiving and its related foods are not easily found. In Jakarta and some cities with an expat community, some restaurants will serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal and if you’re ambitious enough you could probably even find the ingredients and make a whole meal yourself.
In Kendari however, it’s a different story. There are eight expats living in/around Kendari (including us three) and Western food is limited. Restaurants include two KFCs, Pizza Hut, and Papa Ron’s (pizza). Grocery stores carry a tiny selection of Western food and brands, namely pasta, tomato sauce, and mayonnaise. So when November rolled around, we didn’t expect anything Thanksgiving-related.
But that assumption was FALSE!
The first celebration of Thanksgiving occurred on Thanksgiving Day. I taught three classes that day and then met my English club after school. I wanted to introduce them to Thanksgiving a little bit so I shared a few photos of my family at Thanksgiving from years past. They loved the pictures of me and my family, all the food, but especially to see the inside of my house 🙂 I shared about Thanksgiving food and how my aunt Suzy and I usually spend two days cooking and preparing everything for the family – they were impressed! As a treat, I had made them guacamole because I had talked about it before and they wanted so badly to try it! Half of them loved it, half of them hated it! (Avocados are usually considered a fruit and served sweet here so it was a weird experience for them!)
We made hand turkeys of what we are thankful for – I loved watching them make it and was so happy to put them all up on the wall in what is quickly becoming my beautifully decorated classroom!
We also did a mannequin challenge, the viral video challenge where everyone freezes in place like a mannequin – swim teams and gymnastic teams have made some pretty impressive ones! Ours is fun too!
That evening, I met up with Kate and Shelby and we went and ate pizza together to “celebrate” Thanksgiving 🙂
On Friday evening, the other expats invited us to their Thanksgiving celebration the following day. So on Saturday we followed them out to where the other expat couple lives (on the beach!) and were astounded to discover a beautifully set table on the beach and endless dishes of stuffing, mashed potatoes, turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, black olives (my favvvv), gravy, homemade rolls, pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie… my jaw literally dropped.
We enjoyed a wonderful evening chatting with all of these new friends, watching the sun set over the mountains, and eating food we thought we would have to wait another year for…
Then, on Sunday we hosted our own Friendsgiving! We wanted to share some of our culture with the people who have helped us and befriended us in the three months we have been here, so we invited them to a big Thanksgiving potluck last Sunday. We spent the week before looking up oven-less, simple ingredient recipes, going to different stores and markets to find the ingredients, and finally spending all day Sunday cooking up a storm!
We ended up with quite a spread considering our limitations. We made delicious creamy garlic mashed potatoes, a fantastic stovetop stuffing, yummy but nasty looking (not orange) sweet potatoes, garlic green beans, and even managed pumpkin pies – from scratch! I bought a pumpkin from the market, cut it into big slices and boiled them until soft, cut off the peels, and then had pumpkin to work with! Let me just say, I was quite impressed with myself 🙂
Our friends loved the chance to visit, meet each other, and try our food. We even made little Thankfulness turkeys and went around in a circle sharing what we are thankful for. It was a great end to a fabulous Thanksgiving weekend!
Shelby, Kate and I finished the day sprawled out on Kate’s bed watching both the cartoon Grinch and half the Jim Carrey Grinch, before we began to drift off into a happy, food-coma sleep.