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Tuesday, February 5, 2008


I love tuesdays.  As of last night at 5pm, Else and I were planning to take a flight to Jakarta at 9pm.  Plans changed.  As of 11pm last night Else, Ludwig, and I were planning to fly to Sumatra tonight.  As of 1am this morning, Ludwig and I were planning to take a bus up to Malaysia in order to catch a ferry to northern Sumatra (Oh, Sumatra is an island in Indonesia not far from Singapore).  As of 10 this morning, we are all staying here to celebrate Chinese New Year and going to Sumatra on Thursday.  This is my life.

Let me bring you up to speed, as I attempted to in my last update, but ran out of steam at my trip to Washington DC and Boston with Tom.  That was early October.  I also related the trials of school for last semester, which mostly sums up the fall and early winter, with exception to one of my most favorite holidays, Thanksgiving.  This year I had the joy of hosting my sisters Emily and Andrea in Boston for a great week of sight-seeing, shopping, and brother-sister bonding times.  Have I mentioned that I'm blessed with family?
Thanksgiving is supposed to start with lots of cooking intermixed with long talks in the living room sipping coffee from brightly colored fall mugs (yes we have enough to rotate in season).  The afternoon should be spent with the most unexpected of American traditions, stuffing ourselves with massive portions of carbohydrates.
Well, let me tell you what happened on our Thanksgiving.  Bright and early, we put on our Sunday best and made our way to the South Station train terminal catching a train to Plymouth.  We were met in an hour by an empty platform with only the few passengers left on the train alighting to a bare parking lot.  The next realization came when the four taxi numbers on the sign were not operating, and the bus was not operating since it was Thanksgiving.  Soon enough the Sea Breeze taxi arrived and, due to our begrudged kindness, we let the elders have the first cab, and then were in for a battle with two other parties waiting for some transportation to magically appear.  It was apparent though, that standing in a parking lot on the back side of a large shopping center, that there wouldn't be any cabs coming to the station.  I've said before, and will again.  When you're stuck, you just have to go somewhere.  In this case, walk.  We spent the first few minutes of the walk scheming on how to best position ourselves so that we would catch the cab before the other people.  Thus began the long walk into Plymouth.  Speaking with a local on the street it was revealed to us that the Plymouth Plantation lay 6 miles down the road.  My initial response was to go for a nice 6 mile jog seeing as how I am in prime physical condition and always up for a nice jog (*note sarcasm*) but the girls just wouldn't have it.  Here is a fundamental for the world.  Sometimes, the women just have a better way of doing things.  Now let me tell you, having my aforementioned preconceived notions about the general expected occurrences of Thanksgiving, I never expected that we would be strategically placed along the road, strategically separating me from the girls, in order to celebrate the rich beginnings of our country by hitchhiking in Southern Massachusetts.  Soon enough, we were squished in the back seat of a middle aged couple's car on our way to Plymouth Plantation.  We talked about our lives, the Native American protest that was occurring at the waterfront, and the Horse Ranch they owned in a nearby town, an obvious interest for us Priest River ranch kids.  The dropped us at the entrance, all smiles, and gave us their card in case we needed a ride back to the train.
Plymouth Plantation is absolutely beautiful.  It is a historical recreation of the original settlement of both the pilgrims and the Wampanag Indians who were living nearby to the plantation.  When walking around, you meet people dressed up as characters from the original Mayflower trip, who actually stay in character throughout the whole day, accent and all talking about how things were, cooking over open fires, and doing day to day tasks as they would have.  Similarly, local indians do the same and share with people about their history.  After enjoying this, as Emily and I did with our parents in 2005, we set off, once again, to make our way back to the lonely train platform.  As I'm sure you already realize, we still had no car, and felt bad inconveniencing the nice couple for another ride.  We once again made our way to the road, and I requested that the girls turn on the flirt a bit to get us a ride.  Soon enough, a nice young pilot picked us up.  He was working for a local airline doing short flights to the islands off of Cape Cod.  As we did before, we shared briefly about our lives and joked about hitchhikers on Thanksgiving, and arrived safely at the train station, just in time for the train, and no money spent on taxi's.  All in all, hitchhiking was, by far, the best option for economy and life experience.  I guess I just needed a little push from my sisters to engage in my first hitchhiking experience.  As an aside, I would like to point out, in relation to the previous comment, that, despite the things I've done in my life, I'm quite a shy person.  Emily and Andrea can attest that my outgoing nature is only revealed when I am alone, but with others, I am quite the opposite.  Perhaps being abroad then brings out a different side of me, a more extended nature of my person.  I like that.  Counseling welcome.

Upon our arrival back in Boston, we jumped into our Thanksgiving attire after a short sleepy rest.  I stood in the kitchen chewing on delectable Strawberry Twizzlers, a recently found love of mine, while pressuring the girls to make short work of their up do's and make up.  I apparently haven't learned the life of a man quite yet (patience patience patience).
Sometime in the previous few years at a family reunion, Emily had been put into contact with our second cousin Allison at a family reunion via her mother Andrea.  Allison and her new husband have made several trips to Africa, and now Allison is working at Harvard doing research on Aids help programs in that region.  This was an obvious interest of Emily's when corresponding with Andrea, Dad's cousin, and the two were put to email contact and kept in touch during and after Emily's trip to Ghana.
Somehow, after such a unnatural Thanksgiving day, all the cards seemed to fall into place.  Thanksgiving is almost always spent with family and friends, and well, Andrea, Emily, and I are a small small family, though I don't discount the incredible European-trained cooking hands of the two girls.  Allison and Joel just moved into a small apartment only a few T-stops from my apartment.  Within 15 minutes we arrived to the door of their new Boston apartment and we had our first meeting.  Let me tell you though, a first meeting could not have been so fantastic.  The had invited another guest, a friend of Joel's whose parents were missionaries in the Philippines.  As birds of a feather flock together, we were a flock of very similarly feathered foul.  The stories were pouring out.  The number of countries visited by our group of six backpackers was enough to spark any conversation with life.  What could be more enjoyable than meeting a new side of the family whom we can interact with so beautifully.  Allison, cooking for the first time her very own Thanksgiving dinner, had woven together a marvelous spread of traditional Thanksgiving dishes after slaving at the oven the entire day.  The nippy weather outside was no match for the work that Allison put that little oven to.  It was the little oven that could.  And it did.  I must now give thanks to Dad's cousin Andrea and Great Aunt Bertie for teaching those hands of Allison's to so perfectly sculpt such a fine Thanksgiving.  Have I mentioned that I am thankful for family before?
The hours of the night rushed forward through a rousing game of Apples to Apples and was capped with the most scrumptious Pecan and Pumpkin pies, homemade crust and baked with love.  Could a night get any better?  Thanks Allison and Joel.
On our final day, I embarked on what must be my seventh or eighth Duck Tour around Boston.  I never find myself getting tired of driving around the same beautiful and historic city making ridiculous quacking noises at innocent passersby.  After a final dinner at my favorite restaurant, Thai Dish with David, we headed out to Middle East for an evening of live music and some pleasant walking though the streets of Cambridge.  I spent that night feeling embarrassed of myself as I was forced to walk around with two unmissable X's on each of my hands, informing the bartender that I was not allowed to drink, but more so, informing the cooler graduate students that I was out of place and am to young to be in such a venue.  I clung to the girls for reassurance that I was worthy of such a place and soon relaxed into the scene and enjoyed the quiet acoustic tunes of the evening.  I just feel cool when I am with my sisters.  We said our goodbyes on Friday morning after Andrea's quick visit to the Museum of Fine Arts.  Emily and I in the meantime went to REI.  Emily did the usual:  walking around, desiring of most of the items in the store, while I continued cajoling her to help me choose a rucksack.  I found what I was looking for, and here and now, in Singapore have that very rucksack to proudly wear on my back during my travels.  Thanks guys!  Happy Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for my family, close and distant.  I am thankful for Andrea's cooking.  I am thankful for rucksacks, and live music nights.  I am thankful that in three months I no longer have to sport the large X's on my hands at the club.  I am thankful for Duck Tours.  I am thankful for many things.  As far as the topics of this blog go at least these are a few.  I am thankful for my sisters.  Thanks for making my Thanksgiving 2007 a memorable one Em and Dra.  I love you both and miss you greatly.

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