Jody's Peace Corps Experience

Friday, December 08, 2006

Cooking for 50

I survived Thanksgiving...

About 18 of us volunteers set out at 8:30am Wednesday, November 22, 2006.

Where were we going? Sagada, Mt. Province.

What did we have with us? 120 pounds of vegetables, 85 apples, 3 live turkeys, 5 big bags of groceries and a backpack or two for each volunteer!

Why were we going? For a fun-filled week of cool, mountain air, good food, good company, and to celebrate Thanksgiving of course...

The trip was probably the worst ride I've had since being in the Philippines. I'm not talking about the condition of the road, but the condition of the vehicle. We hired a jeepney to take us on the 6 hour journey as we had so much stuff that we didn't think we would be allowed on the bus. There were a couple close calls as far as motion sickness. We also are in the dry season so the dust on the roads is almost unbearable when in an open air vehicle. By the time we got to Sagada, all of us were covered in a thin layer of dust. Those with dark hair looked like they had aged 40 years.

Thursday was spent chopping, dicing, peeling, etc. the 100 pounds of veggies. All of us worked as a fine oiled machine to get our meal prepared. Ok, so maybe it wasn't a fine oiled machine, but a rusty, old clunker that chugged along and made it through to the end. We had all of the favorites associated with Thanksgiving! Deviled eggs, veggie tray with yogurt dip, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, roasted turkey, squash, glazed carrots, zuchini bake, and a huge fresh veggie salad. 50 people attended our Thanksgiving feast!

My host sister was able to come along and experience an American holiday. We joked with her about if she would be able to handle not having rice with her meal for 2 days. She also enjoyed learning to cook common vegetables in new ways. I loved that even though I couldn't be with my own family, I had my host sister and good friends to share the day with.

After getting back from Sagada, the staff who attended my training of trainers session in October, echoed it for the rest of the staff at my center. They made several changes to the lecture sessions that surprised me a little, but overall, the training went ok. I think that the direct care staff understood the concepts and know how to use the manual.

Today, I attended an agreement signing for several Non-Government Organizations of Baguio in cooperation with USAID and the United States Embassy. The US Ambassador to the Philippines attended the event. Later this month, all volunteers in the Baguio area will be attending a Christmas Party held at the Ambassador's Baguio residence. The Ambassador is newly appointed earlier this year and is very active in social reform. She has been keeping busy with visits to various parts of the Philippines and has visited a number of Peace Corps Volunteer sites.

One last thing, I'm ok! The typhoons that are rocking the Philippines and causing devastation and destruction are far away from Baguio. Although volunteers are in the areas where there have been landslides and flooding. They are safe too, but please keep the communities that have been hit by the recent typhoons in your thoughts and prayers. Another typhoon is expected to hit this weekend in the same area.