I know I keep blogging about food, but it's because I am just so excited to actually be surviving here on "regular" food. Although I'm not sure how Mexican food is "regular" for an American. Being inspired by our good friends in Africa, we decided to try our luck at tortillas tonight. Fajitas and rice were on the menu, and unless I could get the tortillas, it would just be stir fry chicken and veggies. The tortillas worked, though, and here's the picture. Except for the chunk husband took off to taste, they were even almost in a circle. I hear that's the hardest part. Now with the leftovers, husband is going to try his hand at frying the tortillas tomorrow to make some chips to go with his salsa he's been making.


curiosity feeds the girl

We're still having heater trouble. We now have 3, and unless we sit directly in front of the heater, we still can't keep ourselves from staying icy. I think we're going to have to go to another town down the mountain because they are literally hundreds and hundreds of USD to get the bigger heaters here. Cars are hardly ever used for deliveries...ever. Even if it's a refrigerator or table and chairs to be delivered. Shops just hire men to strap things on their backs to carry them. So at least if we keep buying little heaters, we won't cause a carrier to have to do what this poor guy is doing.

Fridays are Date Night for us. Yesterday we decided to make it "Date Day" and grab lunch instead, since it's starting to get pretty cold to be walking around at night. In our search to find a new place to eat, we followed signs to some place called the Garden Restaurant. It turned out to be a restaurant in the garden of a hotel that used to be a British Palace. Here are pics of the hotel, the restaurant, the garden (which will be gorgeous in the spring when the flowers are blooming like crazy!), and the delicious chocolate mousse cake I had for dessert. :)

On our way home, the dry cleaning family invited us in for tea again. They are so friendly, and it's fun since they speak no English. They were laughing so hard at us, because in our attempt to break the silence, we would point at objects we knew and say the word. "Floor!" "Wall!" "Chair!" Even the little boy was laughing.

Today I finished wrapping Christmas gifts to send out. Now I just have to find some cardboard boxes to mail them in. In awhile we're going to go p walk around our area and to map some strongholds. We know of at least two that are just down the road: the Tibetan school, and a temple.


attack of the monkeys

Here is a picture of the big grocery store. It's blurry and doesn't have the best view, but I didn't feel comfortable taking a picture of the grocery store, so someone else took it, and I'm not brave enough to go back and take another one.

Oh by the way, I was nearly attacked by two monkeys today. They were all over the place today, and had me so jittery, even before the big attack. There were 3 coworkers in town, doing some sightseeing, and we took them to one place, and on the way there, there was this family of about 7 monkeys on the side of the sidewalk. I was holding onto the back of husband, knowing that if baby monkeys are around, mama monkey is being very protective. As husband passes by, a monkey on each side of us started hissing, looking at us straight in the eye. Eye contact is not a friendly gesture in monkey body language. I froze, while the two monkeys put me on their target list, and started hissing and coming at me. I backed away slowly, and they finally, after what seemed like an eternity (it was probably only 30 seconds), got bored with me and turned their attentions elsewhere. I had visions of rabies shots in my head, and was so scared, I even had tears in my eyes. After it was over, I looked behind me, and there was this crowd of about 50 people bunched together about 30 feet behind me, all waiting for it to be over with. When I saw them, they all started laughing. Laughs of released tension, I'm pretending. Sometimes, it's just not fun being the crazy white woman.


super walmart it's not (and for that, I'm kinda grateful)

I don't know if I've described our "grocery stores" yet, but I'll do it briefly. The only one we have in town is a 45 minute walk away. All the other ones are just one 12x12 room with shelves stocked to the brim with minimal variety. (rice, crackers, cookies, milk, eggs, and tons of ramen noodle type stuff) So this big store, which I love, has three aisles about ten feet long, and even a dairy section (a refrigerator). It's great! It is stocked with typical items, but then also every time I go in, I see something new. My favorite aisle is the international aisle - it lways has random items like Kraft Mac and Cheese, Campbell's cream of mushroom soup, or Dole pineapple slices. When these items are actually in the store, they are usually the only item like it, and usually have some other language besides English printed on them. For some reason, there must have been a large shipment of the mac and cheese, because there are about 5 or 10 boxes on the shelf. I have no clue how they get these items, or why they only get one at a time, but I'm grateful nonetheless. Anyway, so today I went in, looking for a chili tomato sauce, and right in front of me, like some cruel joke, was a jar of steak sauce. Seriously! It sat there, mocking me. I think I even heard it say, "Nanny nanny boo boo."

Tonight is my second night of Thanksgiving Planning. I'm making green bean casserole. I'm cheating a bit because I bought one of those arbitrary cans of cream of mushroom, so I didn't have to make it, but I did find a recipe for making the cream of mushroom next time. But the green beans and fried onions are from scratch, so that counts right?

I'm still looking for a good chicken recipe to replace turkey or ham. Ooh, maybe some sort of honey baked chicken. If you have a good recipe, send it to me!


my first hexagonal apple...hexagon

For the first time ever I made a pie tonight. I am beginning to plan out Thanksgiving meals, and since I really don't access to any of the foods I know how to make for Thanksgiving (which really isn't much), that's why I'm having to start practicing a month in advance. I've never made a pie before, and even if I had made one in the states, I would've bought the crust first. I think once I tricked myself into believing I had made cherry cheesecake, with that ready made crust and ready made cheese and ready made cherries. Anyway, so I'm not expert on pies. I think I've already laid out my credentials of being a slight airhead, and tonight was no exception. After almost fully completing the preparations for the pie, I realized, Hey, shouldn't I have a pie pan? Of course I didn't, but I did have some hexagonal baking pans for some reason. Seeing as the crusts were rolled out and the apple filling was already made, I had no choice but to try it out. And guess what - it worked! And having the pan made the little diagonal cuts very easy to center, which is something only a scrapbooker can appreciate. Husband told me all pies should be hexagons because it makes cutting the pie that much easier.

So here is a picture of my first apple pie...that's not a pie shape at all.


naturally beautiful

The city we live in is naturally beautiful. Here's a pic of last night's sunset from our terrace, and also a photo from our walk to the office today.

i'd jump through hoops just to have some meat...

I love Sundays. Day of rest, time of fellowship, usually a restaurant for lunch...ahh. Today on our walk to the office we passed by a Tibetan school. We had heard at our house this loud commotion of people who would cheer and clap, and someone talking over a loud speaker. When we passed by the Tibetan school, we realized where the sound was coming from. They were having some sort of celebration and had even lit a hoop on fire, and boys were jumping through this hoop! It was very strange, and the people walking on the road were all stopped and lined up to watch this event. It was like the Tibetan version of when we'd have big Sundays back home and hire people to come entertain the students. (click the picture to get a bigger version of it)

At the office, there was a group of Americans who will be here for just under 3 weeks. They are from the same state my inlaws are living in right now. One of their men spoke, and it was so refreshing to hear a speech in English! He even reminded us of our shepherd back home - he would say something, and then say, "Turn to your neighbor and say..."

Afterwards, we went to what I guess would be considered fast food. The place even had sausage and mutton burgers! There's no grill in there, though, only microwaves, so it's obvious they just take a frozen burger and nuke it. I was so excited because there was a sausage, onion, and bell pepper pizza on the menu, and I realized that I was obligated to try it out. I owed it to my meat deprived self. Turns out, the sausage was actually sliced vienna sausages! Judge all you want, but after going more than 2 months with no meat other than a little chicken and mutton, those teeny weenys were good. I don't care if they came out of a can.

This fast food place is also one of the only stores I can find frozen meat, and yesterday we picked up some pork and chicken sausages. I have no clue what they'll look like when I open the box, but in my mind are visions of links and links of tasty, juicy meat. Hopefully they will be close enough to hot dogs and we can have some Foster dogs tonight...yum!!


where in the world...?

This morning I got to work out! I mean, besides the usual 10-15km walk a day. There's another american woman here who actually has a background in dance as well, and we have agreed to work out every Saturday morning. This morning we did some kind of pilates cardio, and she has a ballet workout that we're going to try out soon!

Yesterday during my language study, I was at the coffee shop, and decided to get some lunch there, and proceeded to have a cringeworthy experience. When I was waiting in line, these two western looking women were next to me, so I smiled and asked them where they were from. One said Canada. The other woman said something like, "Izzy Eye." I looked blank, and she repeated it. "Izzy Eye?" I said. "Yes," they said. "Is that somewhere in Canada?" I asked. At that exact moment those asinine words left my mouth, I realized in her thick accent she was saying Israel. They looked at me gapingly, and I tried to laugh it off. I told them how embarrassed I was. They were okay with it, but when they asked me where I was from, I was so ashamed to claim America at that point. Luckily, I redeemed myself (a tiny bit) when the Canadian (actually Quebecoise) woman and I conversed in French. But I'm sure one of the first things they will do when they get home is tell their friends about the dumb American girl who thought Israel was in Canada. (what could I do: insult her accent by telling her I couldn't understand, or laugh it off and say I misunderstood?)

Yesterday I finally got to scrapbook! Oh it was such a relief to just sit and work on two layouts and watch season 4 of Friends (arguably the best season). And after language study, I found a place that prints out great pictures for cheap, so I'm excited to keep scrapbooking.


birthday coffee

After dinner, husband took me to a coffeeshop for coffee and dessert, and the guys who made the coffee put "HB" in chocolate syrup on the coffee, for "Happy Birthday". This city is so friendly. They also brought me a fork with my chocolate chip muffin. They think Americans eat everything with a fork here, which is really funny. Or a spoon. I'm actually surprised they didn't bring a spoon, because restaurants will give a spoon no matter what we order.

Today is a special holiday for the women in this country. They fast all day for to (not for) their husbands for long lives, and they wear traditional wedding clothes. Then when the moon comes out, they all go out on the street, worship the moon, and then the husbands buy them a gift, and they eat. I've been asked many times if I'm fasting to my husband today, and I have to tell them no because I do not believe my husband is a god, but I will send him money all day for a long life and fruitful life. I read in a new book the boss wrote about how two men, Paul and Tim, were sending money to a small group of people living in colosse for knowledge and understand so they would honor the boss the rest of their days and bear all kinds of fruit. When I read that, the boss told me to send money to my husband for that, so I have been and now I can tell any person who asks me if I'm fasting that this is my money for my husband. It's a good expenditure for any body, married or not. It reminds me of how my "cousin" back home told me she used to send money to her husband before she knew him and I followed her example and can see how that money was used.

happy birthday to me!!

Thanks to everyone I talked to this morning, I am having a great birthday so far. Between the emails, calls, and chats, it's very nice. In this culture, it's customary to give gifts on your birthday instead of getting gifts, so after yesterday's conversation with Priya, the boss gave me an idea. Today after language study was over, I told her that in the US on someone's birthday the custom is to get gifts. I told her that out of all the gifts I had received, the best was the gift of eternal life. Then I said since here you give gifts, I had a gift for her. I gave her the truth written in her own language so it would speak to her in ways I could not. It was a small booklet, and asked her to read it tonight and we could talk about it tomorrow. Please send money for her that it would speak right to her heart as she has admitted she is in search of peace.

She has been talking about my birthday for over a week now, and she forgot today was it. She realized halfway through the lesson, stuck her hand out for me to shake, cupped my face in her hands and then gave me a hug! It was a warm greeting, although I'm still having to shake off my American perceptions and go with the flow when it comes to contact here. The women holding hands, or men strolling with their arms wrapped around each others' waists or shoulders is becoming more and more usual to look at, but when it happens to me, I usually freeze. Husband didn't tell his language helper that it was my birthday, and so when Priya told her, she glared at husband and said, "Why didn't you tell me?!" haha


dominant species

Today I was studying language in a coffee shop (it seriously may be the best idea I've ever had), and I looked out the window and saw these two monkeys. One of them grabbed what looked like some sort of plastic container of orange jello, and stuck the whole thing in his mouth, plastic and all. He sat for awhile and chewed and chewed, probably wondering why it was taking so long to swallow. But instead of spitting it out, he just kept chewing. And it made me think, some people actually think we evolved from them? I mean, my dog (ahem, I mean my parents' dog) at home wouldn't even do that. Granted, he went through his scared-of-ice phase, but everybody has irrational fears. And if evolution turned monkeys into humans, why are those annoying creatures still around?

There are no mailboxes here, so you have to go to the post office to mail anything. We went for the first time last week, and it was an experience. Since there are so many people here, everyone gets assigned pretty much only one task at their work, and so we went through a few people at the post office. Just to mail 3 letters, we had to go through paying for postage, pasting on the stamp (literally...the guy pulled out old timey paste and wiped it thoroughly on each stamp), then I had to watch the guy put the letters in a box, and then someone else gave me a receipt. They would not let us leave until we had that receipt. Each letter cost 15, which is the equivalent of about 33 cents. Nice! I went back today on my own with 2 more letters, went through the same process, except this time, no receipt. I wonder why it wasn't important this time. Also, the price went up from 15 to 24. I asked why it increased, and she told me because they both weighed more than 20 grams or something like that. I was about to argue when I realized that I was going to complain about mailing something air mail overseas for 50 cents. A regular stamp in the US almost costs that much. An example of something that's just not worth fighting over.

Priya is so close to coming to know the truth. Please remember to send her money. She is to the point where she realizes how empty her life is, which is when I came to personally know the boss, and I'm hoping she will meet him soon as well.


pictures of celebration

Top: holy man gesturing and dancing in front of plastic idol scene
Middle: holy fire of god
Bottom: Vendors trying to make a sale


lessons in humility

What a day I had yesterday! Between being called fat, being asked if I was pregnant (mom stop worrying, I'm not :), being told I'm not a stylish dresser, having my pimple pointed out to me, and being told that my husband probably cooks better national food than me, I should be cowering under the covers of my bed forever. It was quite interesting. I'm so glad the boss gave me such a great mood yesterday and a sense of humor to laugh it off. Also, I had quite the scare with a monkey. I had my good towels hanging dry, and when I was in the living room, I saw a monkey climbing up the tree towards the terrace. I was not going to let him take my cushy towels! I went up there, made a ton of noise opening the door in hopes to scare him off, and slowly peeked out the door. The coast was clear - I grabbed a few towels, and glanced over shoulder. There he was - all fat and hairy, perched on the ledge of the terrace, just looking at me. I jumped and ran inside, and made noises at him to leave. He merely sauntered over to the side directly in front of the door and took up another perch - just inches away from my towels! Finally, he ran off, but only to the slanted roof, so I grabbed only the good towels, and ran back in, terrified he was about to leap onto me while I was least expecting it. Believe me, every moment I've been on the terrace since, I've been expecting it. I'm sure I look like a spy, sneaking around corners, looking this way and that. Those monkeys have ruined the terrace time! I think a fake gun is in order.

Last night, we joined Priya and her mother at a temple. We spent a lot of money before leaving for protection, and the boss was faithful. We saw many strange sights: hordes of people, bowing to plastic idols, kissing walls, and lying face down on the ground. In a separate room, there was a major throng of people, all watching a holy man gesturing with incense (almost dancing, really, with a very loud drum in the background) in front of a large plastic scene of idols, and many of the crowd was bowed as well. Then, a man came around with a pot of fire, and people would swipe their hands over it and "wash" their face with the fire. Priya said it was the holy fire of god. On the road to the temple, there were dozens of vendors set up to sell all the holy items to offer to the idols - coconuts, scarves, bananas, incense, etc. We were able to take pictures and will post those in our letter home. Even in the midst of all the glittery gold and sparkling lights, this area is desperately in need of the Light.


earthquake not harmful

The earthquake that hit south asia this morning did not affect us dangerously, just in case anyone had heard about it in the states. Much of south asia felt the tremors, as did we. Actually, I shouldn't say "we". I was out at the time getting vegetables, and when I came home, a woman we know called us from another city and asked if we were okay, and told me about the tremors she had felt. I asked my husband later if he felt anything, and he said he definitely felt them. He said it wasn't as bad as the other earthquake he's been in. Later on that day, we had just finished talking about the aftershocks, and sure enough, the water bottle on the table began shaking, and I could feel the couch shaking. I've never experienced an earthquake or aftershocks of any kind, so it was quite an experience. But needless to say, we are safe, and so is our city.



I had already typed up a different blog for today, but I'm changing it. Something too exciting happened to us tonight.

We were at the big market, and we went to Sagar's shop to chat with him and his father. The shop closed about 30 minutes after we sat down, so they offered to take us home since they live nearby us. One our way out, a policeman stopped us. On the main market area, cars are not allowed, and only people with certain permits can drive on certain roads. Since they were driving us home, they went a different way than their permit allowed, and they were pulled over. Sagar and his father had to get out of the car, and Sagar told us they would have to pay a fine. I asked how much, and he shrugged and said, "We'll negotiate." (the police here are so corrupt, they take the money and pocket it themselves. It's so weird to hear him say negotiate. I guess it's the equivalent of crying your way out of a speeding ticket) Well as they were stepping out of the car, husband told them, "we'll send money for you right now." So we did, asking that they would not have to pay anything. They came back to the car after about five minutes or so, and Sagar looked at husband strangely and said, "Did you send money?" We nodded, and asked why. He said because the police man let them off free! We were so overjoyed, and Sagar and his father both claimed it was a miracle and that our boss must love us very much, because the police are so corrupt that they would never let anyone off free of charge. We told them our boss loves everyone, and were able to share a little bit more about him. We were so overjoyed we kept pinching each other on the way home with goofy grins. Now this incident will be on the forefront of their minds, and the best part is, they told us their shop is picking up again, which they earlier credited to the holiday season right now. But now that they've seen this, we are sending money in hopes that when the shop prospers they will call to mind what happened tonight and think this boss must really answer, more than theirs.

I hope all that made sense. I'm so excited right now that I'm probably rambling on!

To any of you who sent me money so I would be more motivated to practice language, thanks! The boss revealed to me a better plan, working during my best hours, and I was able to go out today, first to the dry cleaner's mother, and then to the lady who owns a cloth shop. She also has women in her shop, so it's fun to just go and sit in there and chat with them. I haven't met a friend of hers yet who speaks English, so it's an ideal place to practice. I told them the days of the week, and that I would be coming on Monday, and they were so thrilled I said it all in their language! They also correct me if I pronounce something wrong, or have incorrect grammar, which is what I want. Priya is wanting me to teach her a little French, and so I am hoping that I don't have as bad of pronunciation of this language as she does of French. (that hope, I'm sure, is in vain, judging by the laughs we constantly get when trying to speak! :) It really makes a huge difference if I get out and practice what I've learned.

One more thing - unfortunately, my chocolate diversion wasn't so good. The snickers was that whitish, old, crumbly chocolate, the kind that has a bit of bitter taste to it. It is so sad when the package on the outside looks so good, and you open up to a huge disappointment. This has happened so many times, I can't name them. At least the Twix was still good, but that was just pure luck, seeing as the last Twix we bought was old chocolate as well. Oh well...you win some, you lose some.


father's love

This morning in my quiet time I had a real image of the boss, one of the most vivid I've had in a long time. In reading one of his old books about his favorite people and what they had done to him, he said if only they would come back to him, he wouldn't be mad and he'd forgive them. I got this image of a father yearning for his wayward child to just come back home, and I gained a heart knowledge of so many images of the boss in this. It hurts me to think of ever putting him through that kind of pain, of earnestly hoping every minute the child will show up so he can comfort and take away any shame. That is ultimate love.

We found some major chocolate yesterday at the grocery store and were beside ourselves! Snickers, Twix, M&Ms, Chips Ahoy...stuff we hardly ever bought for ourselves back home, but we stocked up on them last night! Husband even found some salsa and that was the first thing he opened when he got home. I'm sure no one is surprised!

I can't believe how cold it's getting so fast here. We already have our heaters on, and we're going to have to get 2 more. This winter ought to be pretty interesting for me, considering I found my hometown's May/June 90 degrees pleasant. But I can't wait to see the snow!


isn't that our towel?

I should have mentioned yesterday the funniest thing that happened to us. I had hung up to dry the towels that we used to clean the bathroom. Wait, I'll stop and explain something really quick. The bathrooms here are obviously not like in the states. Our "shower" is a small corner area of the bathroom with a drain, a faucet, and a new shower head. Here, they don't use shower heads, they use buckets to shower. That's another discussion for another day. Anyway, there is no blocked off area for the water to go, and even though we have the privilege of a shower curtain, it doesn't keep the water from getting all over the bathroom floor. So until we bought a squeegie last week to push the water to the drain, we had to use towels. So there, that was quick right? I'm trying, guys! So anyway, we had hung up the towels on the roof on the line to dry. There were 2 of them, along with some small hand towels. Being the slight airhead I am, I didn't notice that there was only one towel to take back in the house when they were dried. Husband and I were on the terrace later, and he pointed to a tree with one of our new towels hanging in it..."Isn't that our towel?" The monkeys had gotten ahold of it! Oh we had a good laugh, and I breathed a sigh of thanks that it wasn't one of the lush towels my mom had given us before we left. Mom, the towels here just aren't the same!

So my meal lesson today was great! Although, I wonder if I'll be able to do it without Priya's help. She left some dough for me to practice frying tonight. Let me tell you, she gets that dough on the rolling board and rolls it out into a perfect little circle in seconds. I tried it, and the dough kept sticking to the rolling pin! So today should be pretty entertaining to see the little oblong pieces of bread I'll be making.

I think I've learned how to attach pictures to the blogs, so I'm attaching a picture of the towel that is just out of reach from receiving in the trees. Notice all the pollen - it's awful! I just went up to the terrace to take the picture, and my husband is up there studying his language (he's so good - he's going to catch up to me at the rate he's going, even though I've had a helper longer than him) and his glasses had pollen all over them for just the hour that he's been up there! The second picture is of the water purifier and water heater. Sister-in-Law, this is for you! You said my geyser story confused you. The purifier is the white thing above the sink, and the metal thing above the purifier (you can't see much of it...it's just a little bigger than the purifier) is the geyser. Anyway, it shares the plug with the purifier and it eventually heats up the water. Or is supposed to, but like I said, ours is a bit quirky.

I need someone to send me money so that I can be motivated to go out into the community and practice my language. It takes guts to walk up to someone and say, "let me tell you what I learned today." Husband does it just fine. (I'm sure no one is surprised! :) but the evil is influencing me from going to practice. I have the head knowledge that these people find it so entertaining, and not annoying, when a foreigner does this, but I can't get my heart to commit to it. And without using what I've learned, I won't retain it. Thanks for all you do!


all the quirks

So we're getting used to all the quirks of our new (old) house. I'm not exactly sure how old it is...it could be as new as 10 years, or as old as 50. Or older. But it's fun. For instance, we know now to not have the geyser (the hot water heater) and the oven on in the kitchen the same time the computer is on the in office, because the electricity will blow. And we also now know that in order to have hot water for washing the dishes, the geyser first must heat up (that's a given!), and the hot water will run for 30 seconds, and then you must turn off the water and wait for it to reheat some more. Maybe 2 minutes, in which you continue filling up the huge bowl with soap and dishes to wash. This cycle goes on, as does the red light on the geyser, until finally, after several minutes, the dishes are allowed to soak in their steaming water. I suppose it may be faster just to boil up a big pot of water, but for now, the system works.

Also, we got the washing machine working today! It is actually on our roof, since there is no other available place to drain the water, except in the shower, which since we're not fond of electrocution, we thought the roof was fine enough. Plus, I can hang the clothes right there. I was in desperate need of kitchen towels, so even though it was after 4, I had to put in a load of towels. Of course, they weren't done washing until almost 6, and I doubt they will be dry enough by time to wash the dishes tonight, or even tomorrow morning for that matter. Plus, the pollen is bad right now, I can't imagine them still being clean by morning. But even if I have to use damp towels to try to dry dishes, I don't care, because I am so excited to have the washing machine!

And the biggest achievement in the past 24 hours is that I cooked chicken spaghetti last night from scratch! I was so excited, I even made the white sauce to put over it before baking it! And tomorrow, my language helper is staying after our studies to teach me a simple lunch - fried bread (my favorite!) and potatoes and vegetables and spices. It's one of husband's favorites, so I now he's looking forward to it. I'm so grateful that my language helper is so nice and helpful. She even looked at all my family pictures today, and oohed and awed over the babies (of course!), and my beautiful family, friends, and inlaws (she made personal comments on everyone), and loved seeing our wedding pictures. It's funny that I've always thought the pictures of their traditional weddings are gorgeous with all the colors and flowers, but since ours are exotic to them, our bridal gowns, and veils (or whales, as she calls them), and tuxedoes are incredibly beautiful. I love new cultures!


husband will survive

I'm so excited about what happened today, but I'm going to have to wait and put it in our update we're sending out tomorrow. Suspense, I know. I'm a regular Hitchcock.

So just to make everyone feel a little better for my husband, yes, dinner worked out last night. I made an enchilada casserole over rice, and it turned out good, except for the rice. I followed the directions exactly on the rice, but a layer of it burnt to the bottom of the pan. At least most of it was still edible, and the other stuff was good. Although this is coming from someone who enjoys Nutella out of the jar (which I'm actually enjoying as I type), so I don't know if my opinion counts. And I'm learning how to make traditional tea in a saucepan, so things are looking up from the whole raisin bran bread mistake.

I know this is a short blog...the update will be more interesting, I think. At least it will have pictures.



Today we were invited over to Priya's house (my language helper) for lunch. This week is an annual celebration where they honor their ancestors. Today, we got there and were served almost immediately. Her family is extremely nice, and they live in a tiny, but adequate house. They of course showed us their idols, which we've noticed many people like to point out. Theirs is a religion of showing off: if you do something good, or religious, you let others know how pious you are. Anyway, the food was delicious! It's funny because Priya had told her mother to cook things extra bland for me because she knows I can't take the spicy food too much. Knowing this, I took a big bite of potatoes, and much to my surprise, my mouth immediately began burning. Priya said, "It's not too spicy, right?" Of course I answered no, that it was perfect. We also had some sort of fried bean things covered in a yogurt sauce, which was really good, and the best (besides the fried bread that is to die for) was this pumpkin stuff. I've got to get that recipe, although since husband really loved the potatoes, I need to get that one as well. Priya assured me it's really easy. In fact, she is so interested in learning southern dishes, that she has said she will teach me her food if I teach her mine. I'm excited, and also nervous. See, at this altitude, the food takes forever to make. I actually have been without a stove since yesterday, and had the burden of trying to find dishes to make without having to use a stove at all. Sounds simple, right? Well first don't forget that many items need to boil to be cleansed. Second, don't forget that I am cooking from scratch, and without several items that are commonplace in the states, such as brown sugar. And third, don't forget that I'm in a place that doesn't sell beef, and even other types of meat are only available half of the time. So I'm cooking mainly with vegetables, that almost always need some sort of stewing or sauteeing, even when put in a casserole. So, I finally found something I could at least make for breakfast - this raisin bran cinnamon bread. The recipe called for 20 minutes in the oven, so I was pretty discouraged when over an hour later, the bread was still undone in the middle. I think I've learned my mistake from it, but it was pretty discouraging when it happened. So this is why I'm going to practice, practice, practice on all the dishes before even attempting to teach someone how to make them!

We were also invited to have a meal with another family, who husband has really developed a relationship with. Food is such an important event here, and we love how hospitable everyone is. Today, I wore traditional clothes, and I had so many women smile from ear to ear when they saw what I was wearing. One woman even crossed the street to come tell me that I was "looking smart." We had so many people come up to us today while we were walking, almost all of which we had met already, and we are really beginning to feel a part of this community which is so exciting. The father and son whom husband has developed a relationship had apparently told their wife/mother about us, and today, as we were walking home, a woman approached and us and said, "You must be [our names]." It was so funny that she could pick us out of a crowd of hundreds of thousands merely by the description from her family!

It's time to try my hand again at another dish. This time, something easier. And I learned how to make correct tea. I will let you know how it turns out.