Tuesday 27 November 2012

What are you grateful for?

My first American Thanksgiving took place two weeks ago.  In Cusco, Peru.

This is Tal.

In his own words Tal can, 'Piss a dinner party for 20'.  As such, an American Thanksgiving on a day´s notice was no big deal.  What we forgot to take into account was that I was helping.

This is me with Tal.

In everyone's words, all I touch turns to disaster (or adventure - it all just depends how you look at it!)

As such, because I was involved...

The turkeys that we purchased at noon on the day of our Thanksgiving dinner for 20 were obviously frozen.  We had to wade through a reeking room of poultry blood to get them.  Tal´s loudly proclaimed Peruvian swear words shocked all within earshot.  Fortunately for him, he oozes charm and can get anything he wants when he bats his big blue eyes.

Below is a portrait of our turkeys, en route home from the 'All things poultry' warehouse in Cusco.  (This seems to be the only place a turkey is available outside of Christmas.  Apparently all the other turkeys are too skinny at this time of year.  Or too tired from having flown in from Lima?)  Here we are giving our turkeys a break from their long Lima flight and sharing a ride home in our taxi.

Our turkeys were frozen and our oven is the size of a shoebox.  Rather than stuffing the fowl into the shoebox, we decided to outsource the problem.

This is Don Julio.  With our broken spanish, we think we´ve agreed to have him thaw and cook the birds at warp speed.  He does, after all, run a chicken roastery.  He must have an oven or two.  Or so we thought.

The photo is fuzzy because the boys are working so fast.

Believing that the turkeys were successfully outsourced, we were now free to toast to our brilliance with a Bloody Mary overlooking Cusco´s main plaza.

Unfortunately, due to our poor grip of the Spanish language, our turkeys were not in fact being cooked.  We arrived hours later to Don Julio´s, only to learn that his favour to us had been to leave the turkeys thawing on his counter.  Perhaps he thought we didn´t have counter space?

In true Backroads leader form (clearly the type of people who've pulled off gourmet picnics in 20 minutes in developing nations with hurricane warnings blaring and rabid dogs at our heels....) we showed our creative brilliance, took a deep breath, and threw more money at the problem.

This time we ran/hauled our fowl up the street to a special ´horno´.  This incredible wood oven down a back alley was surely the answer.  Twenty steaming cuy (guinea pigs) had to moved out of the way to accomodate our birds.  Because the guinea pigs were nearly cooked through, they couldn't even squeal their protest.

 At 9pm, we heaved steaming, delicious turkeys up the 3 flights of stairs to our apartment.

Tal is sideways after all the effort.  
And because I can't figure out how to turn him around...


Somehow Tal pulled this off in spite of my support - what a team!

McKay, Diego, and a whole lot of food...

It's odd that a Canadian and an Aussie should choose to throw an American Thanksgiving meal, but throw one we did.  Our home overflowed with new friends from Peru, Japan, Ireland, and even a few token Americans.  We played music, sang and shared our gratitude for food to eat and friends to share it with.

This day full of misadventures led to my first American Thanksgiving meal, and I am so grateful for it.  Of course, things never quite seem to go the way that you expect (ESPECIALLY IF YOU'RE ME).  And thank goodness for that!  Because of it, I have been blessed by beautiful people who leap into my life to link arms and ensure that everything turns out better than expected (yeah Tal! thanks Emma! And Don Julio and countless others...).  Anyway, with a few misadventures under our shared belts, yes there are moments of panic - and a whole heck of a lot of fun along the way!

Of course we don't have to eat turkey to profess our gratitude.  How wonderful that we can practice being grateful anywhere in the world, on any day of the week.


*This phrase and image is borrowed from my all-time favourite restaurant, Cafe Gratitude.  Check it out next time you're in San Francisco!  Order up a serving of, 'I am adventurous'. Share a little, 'I am vivacious'.  Then wash it all down with a big gulp of, 'I am courageous'.  Yum!  A tasty serving of inspiration and gratitude...

Tuesday 20 November 2012

It's shocking, really

how much privilege I have experienced growing up in an upper middle class home in North America.

For example, I have not once been shocked in the shower.  Until now.  My hair is still dripping wet as I type this.  Had my hair not already been frizzy, it certainly would be now.  I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. My landlady did warn me not to touch anything metal as I showered.  This cautionary warning actually kept me out of our shower until recently.  Finally though, I tired of my own scent.

Seriously - would YOU trust this shower?
In the end, the morals I take from this story are:

 A) electricity and water should not mix, unless at a hydroelectricity plant (even then I have my doubts),  and

 B) it's okay to be dirty and smelly.  Better dirty than dead, I always say. 

(Which is likely how I earned my 'Dirty Girl' nickname in university.  But that's a story for another time.)

My visiting friend from Canada was horrified when I explained Peruvian bathroom procedures to him over a very classy dinner last night.  As a former wastewater treatment plant tour guide, I am used to speaking of such things over meals.  I should try to remember that not everyone is so comfortable.  I told Keith that the convenient wastebasket next to each Peruvian toilet is a receptacle for used toilet paper (for cases when you are lucky enough to be provided with such a luxury as toilet paper).  The pipes and systems in Peru (and most of Latin America for that matter) are not able to handle anything that isn't produced directly by one's body.  I get so used to this that I often find myself seeking out a wastebasket next to the toilet upon return to Canada.  (To my mother's obvious horror).

Oh, and of course there's no toilet seat.  I would develop strong quads here in Peru, if only I did a bit of exercise.

One commonly used word here for a toilet is an inodoro.  For some reason I find this hilarious...An odourless?  I suppose it beats the alternative, an odourful.  And really, what luxury!  A system IN the home that uses water to rush our wastes away to the nearest river?  Or if we are very lucky, to a nearby wastewater treatment plant?  These days, we are so lucky to use inodoros - a water closet being far less odoursome than the alternative outhouse.  Interesting.  The language here fascinates me.  More on this later.  Stay tuned for an upcoming post in which I shall address the issue of: 'V bersus B'.

I take so much for granted at home.  How much I can flush for example, and the fact that I can drink my tap water (or could even safely drink my toilet or shower water if I were that thirsty).  Stay tuned for another upcoming post addressing my recent tour of Cusco's water treatment plant.  I believe I shall call it:  'At Your Service...??'

On the topic of privilege, please excuse my somewhat light take above on this subject.  If I were to really dive into the fact that most of my friends here have nearly no preventative health care, have never seen a dentist, make less than my lunch money each week and can't travel to my country even for a visit, well, it steps outside of the lighthearted, silly and self-indulgent nature of LittleMissAdventure.com.  So, that's all for now folks.

Til next time!

Little Misadventure