Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Merry X-mas, Vrolijk Kerstfeest & Feliz Navidad

As the holidays approached this year I wasn’t sure what to expect from our first Christmas in Maputo. I was feeling a little homesick and missing the Miami winter. I know this sounds crazy...but it is summer here and extremely HOT. Although it doesn’t get cold in Miami you have your random gusts of cold air and “sweater weather” that surprises you every once in a while during the holiday season. Maputo during Christmas is hot and humid. The other day is was over 105 degrees! It makes it hard to get into the Christmas spirit.

We put up a Christmas tree and decorated the house...but it just didn’t feel like the holidays. I was still feeling a little homesick and I spent the week before Christmas watching ¿Que Pasa, USA? everyday (My sister gave me all the episodes before I left Miami). Watching this show as an adult made me truly appreciate it and iI realized how “perfect” the show was at capturing the life of a Cuban-American family in Miami. After an overdose of the Peña family I decided that I wanted to have my own Noche Buena in Maputo.

JJ was hesitant at first due to my lack of culinary skills and to tell you the truth I have NEVER really made anything for Noche Buena. All that was left to my mom, grandma and Jose (our neighbor). JJ is a wonderful chef but he wasn’t really sure about lechon hasado, yuca, frijoles negros y arroz blanco. But after discussion and deliberation the plans for Noche Buena were set into motion. I don’t blame JJ for being nervous...have you ever seen me in the kitchen!

I spent the week on email with friends and family figuring out the recipes and ingredients. I want to thank my grandmother, my mom, Ana and Carlos for answering all of my questions and sharing your recipes with me! I think that from now on I will help with Noche Buena the next Christmas we spend in Miami.

Our friends were invited. We had 12 people for dinner...but that was okay since our pork was 18 pounds!!!! That is a big “bird” (as JJ and I affectionately referred to the pig). Let me tell you that the lechon came out delicious! I have to give props to JJ...he was on pig duty and I swear it was as good as Jose’s (our neighbor in Miami) but I would never tell him that. We might not have had a caja china...pero que rico!

Noche Buena was a success! No one got food poisoning (ha ha ha) and we had a wonderful time with our friends and their friends. We have been very lucky to meet wonderful people in Maputo. The dinner table was full of stories, talking, drinking...you know just like back home. It was very special and I will never forget our first Noche Buena in Maputo.

The party continued on Christmas Day. We had a Christmas Brunch. Everyone came over with food. We had mimosas...sat around....listened to Christmas Carols...played games...shared stories...had a dip in the pool (I bet you can’t do that wherever you are this December).

Our First Christmas in Maputo was perfect and although we missed our family and friends in the USA and Holland (a lot!!!) we are very blessed to have such great friends here in Mozambique.

To everyone not here with us....JJ and I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!! We will be visiting Holland and Miami in February and can’t wait to see all of you.

Click here for pictures from Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) and Christmas Day!

P.S. Just a couple of personal updates I forgot to mention before. I am now not only the "wife of a diplomat," but I am also the newest member of the staff at the American International School of Maputo. Yes, I got a job! I am the Activities Coordinator. I can't wait to start full-time in January. I worked the last two weeks before Christmas break and I really enjoyed it. Okay, so I have a job...that brings me to my next BIG news. I need to get to work, right? Carpooling isn't really an option here...I finally learned how to drive stick shift. I don't think JJ ever thought I would learn...but I did. I still give people a little whiplash, but hey I can get from point A to point B. This is progress!

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