Monday, December 1, 2008

Lessons from the Little Prince...And a Thanksgiving to Remember

Saturday was unseasonably chilly and drizzly, so Nick and I read our books all day and did not get out of our pajamas until 6 o'clock at night...I know that sounds incredibly lazy, but it was actually incredibly glorious. While outside was gray and windy, inside was extremely cozy and I think between the two of us we must have drunk a dozen cups of coffee...Nick read, and finished, Ghost Wars, and convinced me to read it now as well...While he read his monster of a book filled with researched footnotes, I made my way through my good ol' children's book, The Little Prince. Because I am extemely slow in translating, 30 pages took me about 4 hours, but it was such a wonderful 4 hours. Maybe because it feels like a feat to understand a sentence, I appreciate the sentences so much in Spanish! I laugh out loud all the time while reading it, and even get choked up sometimes at the Little Prince's sincerity and simple, sincere thoughts...His innocence breaks my heart! But he imparts the reader with such wonderful life lessons that are easy to forget in our fast-paced lives. My favorite part that I read on Saturday was the part where the Little Prince, or el hombrecito as St. Ex sometimes calls him in Spanish, talks about the astroner who discovered the asteroid where the Little Prince lives, Asteroid B612. The astronomer was Turkish, and when he first came to present his discovery to the International Astronomy Congress, he dressed in Ottoman-style clothing. Nobody paid attention to his discovery because they were too focused on his clothes. The Turk did not want to give up, so he came to the Congress a few years later dressed in a suit, and this time, everyone listened, and believed his findings regarding Asteroid B612. However, the Turkish astronomer was disheartened this go-around because after his presentation, he longed to make friends with these fellow astroners. As the Little Prince recounts, he wanted the astronomers to ask him what he dreamt of and what games he liked to play, but instead they asked him how much he weighed and how much money his father made. After knowing these things, the astronomers felt close to the Turkish astronomer, because that is all they feel they needed to know, but the Turkish astronomer felt lonely because he knew these things do not matter in life. (Which all really reminded me of none other than Mr. Michael Esders, who hates when people say first in introductions, ¨What do you do?¨ rather than ¨What do you like to do?¨)Maybe I am too sentimental, or maybe I was just excited to read a passage like that in Spanish, but those words still have not left my mind! I've got el principito on the brain...

When Nick finished the last page of Ghost Wars, he closed the covers with a bang and told me he was going to head to the store--we were going to have people over in the evening to celebrate a belated Thanksgiving. Because I was cozy and lazy, I sent him off alone, promising that I would do the cooking when he got home. Of course, as karmaic retribution for me, a torrential downpour started not two minutes after Nick left. And I mean torrential. Within a few minutes, the sewers were backed up, and completely overflowing. Our street was flooded so that the water level was above your ankels. I started cracking up, grabbed an umbrella, and ran to the grocery store. When Nick saw me, we were both soaking wet and laughing. We bought the groceries, and headed home, both of us ducking under the umbrella that wasn't doing much good. The wind was so strong that it was blowing the rain underneath the umbrella's covering. We were absolutely drenched. When we turned onto Piedras, we saw three cars stuck in the middle of the road, unable to drive because of the level of the water. The passengers were sitting with their arms crossed and stares of death coming from their eyes, penetrating the windowshields. At the end of the block, two men stood outside and directed traffic away from our flooded calle. We turned the key into our apartment building, ran upstairs, poured glasses of red wine to warm up, and watched the chaos from our window.

And was it ever chaos!! Buses eeked down the street, creating tidal waves as they turned a corner; cars sputtered past, surrounded by the waves their wheels were creating; a group of teenagers down the street took boards and were literally surfing in the street. Nick and I felt bad for the two men who had volunteered to become crossing guards, so we thought we should share the wealth and give them some wine. I ran down to deliver it, and the two men thanked me and shouted ¨¡Estados Unidos!¨ Once again, Nick and I were dying of laughter.

An hour after the downpour started, it began to let up, and it looked like people would be able to come over afterall. We started a-cooking, making a whole chicken, amazing mashed potatoes that Nick mastered, and a French silk pie, that turned out to be more like pudding (that I un-mastered). Nick and Brenna came over with a DELICIOUS green bean casserole, another whole chicken covered with apples and onions, and an adorable carved pumpkin to make it festive. Lisa and Diego came over with green been and artichoke salad as well as a spinach salad; Sheila came with a dulce de leche cake, and of course Leonor, Elsa, and Fernanda came with the much-needed Quilmes. Jenny and Elise arrived a little later with wine, and so we ended up celebrating Thanksgiving with 8 Americans, 2 Peruvians, and 2 Argentines. It was lovely. It really was.
We all missed home for this holiday, but it was such a blessing to have friends here with whom to celebrate. As we went around the circle saying what we were thankful for, I said I was thankful to have made friends to celebrate with, and I really meant it. How lucky it is that we have met these wonderful people during our stay here thus far.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!!

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