Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Food, Glorious Food!

I am sitting here eating some guava that I bought at the grocery store today, and it hit me that the last time I ate guava was in Costa Rica at a farewell party that some friends from the church put on for us. That time that I ate guava, it was pulled right off the tree for me to eat, which was incredible....however I kept wondering in the back of my mind if I was going to get a worm or parasite from it! Thankfully I didn't, but even today I'm still inspecting each bite! This week I tried my first "pan de jamón" (ham bread), which is a Venezuelan tradition at Christmastime. It is bread baked with ham on the inside...it's kind of like a roll. There were also raisins baked inside...but interestingly it was a wonderful combination! Kind of sweet and salty.

Part of me misses some foods that I ate in Canada, but part of me is excited to discover all the new foods here! In Costa Rica, the grocery stores were much smaller and limited (although there were some stores with a bit more variety and imports) so when I arrived in Caracas I was blown away by the size of the supermarkets and the variety within. Venezuelans are the second largest consumers of pasta in the world (Italy being #1, of course), and imagine my surprise to see a whole supermarket aisle devoted to pasta. A whole aisle!!!! Of course there are some things that I can't get here that I was able to get in Costa Rica (ie: Kraft Dinner--you'd think with a whole pasta aisle, good 'ol KD might catch on down here) but all in all, I am happy with the food in Venezuela. And don't forget arepas....I love arepas! And the rotisserie chickens. And the papaya....

A little update on getting into the Christmas spirit....Friday I started reading "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, and yesterday I made myself.....drumroll.....eggnog! Tonight...well, tonight I'm going to do some online Christmas shopping while I drink tea out of my Christmas mug.

Another little update on Christmas happenings....I am happy to share that this Christmas I am going to be spending in Canada! I am looking forward to spending time relaxing in Cold Lake (most likely with long underwear and a few sweaters on) with my family and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be spent with family in Saskatchewan...hurray! I'm looking forward to seeing snow, breathing deeply the fresh air and enjoying some quiet time. Would appreciate any prayers as I travel on the 12th!

One of my fave musicals...

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Operation 'Have a Holly Jolly Christmas'

What do you do to get into the "Christmas Spirit"?

Last year while I was in Costa Rica, I admit I didn't really do too much to get into the holiday mood. We had loads of Christmas decorations up in my host family's house, and I even put a couple up in my room. We drove around and looked at the Christmas lights downtown. But I never once broke out any of my Christmas albums. I did not drink an eggnog latte. I couldn't go for a walk in the crunchy snow. The sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas can be found in Latin America...but sometimes they look a little different than what I'm used to. Christmas lights are strung up around palm trees. Inflatable lawn decorations are sold on the hot concrete (my favourite is the inflatable snowglobe with fake "snow" blowing around on the inside). Beautiful Spanish and English Christmas carols play in the malls (yesterday at a mall we saw a giant Christmas tree, strung with lights that flashed in time to Trans-Siberian Orchestra). Christmas "shops" are set up under a tarp on just about every intersection, many selling "Canadian Pine Trees" (the scent is intoxicating). But something just seems "off". And I realized today that it's ME who's a little "off". It's like that feeling when you confidently hop up the stairs but your toe catches and you trip. Or you turn a corner in your house that you know like the back of your hand, and suddenly catch your shoulder on the wall. Being in a new culture means having to re-learn so many things that you did with ease before or that you took for granted. So I decided that each day that I am here in Venezuela this December, I am going to do something "Christmasy", so that I can remember, and relearn how to celebrate this season.

My decorations went up a few weeks ago, and it was pretty easy since all the decorations I own here are a couple strings of lights for the window, a little nativity that I bought in Costa Rica, some snowflake ornaments my mom sent me last Christmas, and a stocking that I made with my Tica mom.

Today, I went to the International School where Mackenzie and Lukas attend school and enjoyed the elementary Christmas program. Mackenzie was a shepherd and Lukas just plain sang his heart out. There was a song with the best use of kazoos I have ever seen in a musical number. There were plenty of bearded and mustachioed little boys who were dressed as various shepherds and wise men. There was the child who alternated between crying and singing and a general look of stagefright. But best of all, there was the reminder that the reason this season is so wonderful, is that God chose to come and live among us, to change lives and history, to make a pathway for us to heaven.