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A Guerrilla Thanksgiving in
Mexico - David, the instigator, is
the bearded fellow standing in
front of the fireplace on the left.
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The girls throw themselves into
the festivities
Our Thanksgiving feast.
Thanksgiving for the Carrolls has rarely been traditional.  For many years, Dave's job required him to work much
of the holiday season, and there were times, when I was in radio, that I had to work as well.  The last time I
remember having a so-called traditional Thanksgiving was 1993, when we shared dinner with Dave's family at the
farm near Conway, South Carolina, with turkey and all the stuff.  After that, I think I may have cooked a small
turkey or two, but more often than not Thanksgiving was just another day when everyone else in the world went
crazy, and the day after Thanksgiving was the traditional day of avoiding shopping centers.  Thanksgiving in
Mexico, as it turned out, was something completely different ...

Let me start on the Tuesday prior.  Elea's godmother Julie was scheduled to fly into Guadalajara on Wednesday
afternoon, so very early Tuesday morning, we ventured into the very dark and very cold countryside.  The
weather here in Patzcuaro has moved into late fall, where the sun heats things up very nicely during the day, but
when the sun goes down these mountains get decidedly chilly.  It's becoming obvious we're going to have to
scrounge up some extra winter clothing.  By the time we reached the heavy traffic in the Big City, it was nearing
9:30, time for our appointment at the Land Rover dealership.  After many, many miles, it was time for some TLC
for Fabiola.  A friendly Venezuelan businessman played translator for us when we discovered that no one in the
Service Department spoke English.  They told us she would be ready the next morning, then sent us off in a taxi
for an early check-in at our hotel.

I had made our reservations for
Hotel Tapatio through Travelocity (BTW, if you have travel plans to make, be
sure to click through to Travelocity on our
home page!!), and I guess I got a pretty good deal 'cause this place is
the bomb!!  It sits atop a hill on the south side of the city in the midst of an upscale housing development in
progress.  All the people there were super nice, the room was outrageously large, the restaurant was great, the
swimming pool is gorgeous ... and to my sheer delight we had an actual bath tub!!  With a shower that gave more
than a drip!  While we had considered finding transportation downtown to see the sights, once we got to the
luxurious resort we decided to stay put and just relax.  Sadly, even with the sun shining bright the air was still quite
chilly, but the girls insisted on getting in a short swim, followed by a hot bath.

On Wednesday, things did not go quite as planned.  After consulting with an English speaking mechanic, Dave
took a taxi to Land Rover to pick up Fabiola, only to find she wouldn't be ready for another hour ... so the girls
and I stored our things at the front desk and hopped a shuttle to the airport.  We were all excited to see Julie
arrive safe and sound with a huge suitcase filled with peanut butter, and we hopped a cab back to the hotel to
meet Dave and Fabiola, all packed up and ready to head back home.  The trip was capped off by a wonderful
dinner at a restaurant down the hill from our apartment, after which Eleanor announced that she was going to walk
home ... and indeed she did begin to do just that, unbeknownst to us as we were piling in the car, until Dave found
her walking down the sidewalk going the wrong way.  She insists now that she was intending to walk back to
Guadalajara.

So, finally - Thanksgiving!  Our initial plan was to pick up dinner at our favorite fried chicken joint, Poppa's, as
Martin, the owner, indicated he might cook up some turkey for his gringo customers.  Mind you, Thanksgiving is
an AMERICAN holiday - no celebrations in Mexico this Thursday.  Around noon, as we were getting ready to
head out for some grocery shopping, our neighbor David flagged us down and asked if we'd be interested in
getting together with some of the other Americans in our little community and cooking some dwarf turkeys.  Well,
heck, we said, why not?  David is one of our characters up here - he's an expert on bamboo and looks like an old
hippie.  After lunch at one of our favorite roadside stands, we returned home with bags of vegetables and gallons
of milk (our tribute to David as our resident librarian, who along with his guests likes milk in his coffee).  David and
his friend Yoltic (don't know if I got that spelling right) showed up at the same time with three and a half chickens
and bags of bread.  Neither of them knew how to make stuffing, but David insisted that this was the one item he
MUST have, so I volunteered to toast up the bread while Yoltic sauteed celery, onions, apples, prunes and who
knows what else to mix into it.  Because David's oven is about the size of a breadbox, I took two and a half birds
into my oven.  I also suggested we stage the celebration at our place, as we have much more room and a pretty
big table.  Julie and Elea began peeling potatoes - and Elea had the first tragedy of the day when she cut her finger
- in preparation for Julie's Killer Mashed Potatoes.  Throughout the afternoon, David is telling us that maybe no
one will be able to come, and we're cringing at the thought of vast leftovers.  But as it got dark, we got word that
not only is Jeremy coming but a few of his friends showed up.  Dave and Abi ran out to pick up the laundry and to
buy some more wine and beer.  Then our artist Arturo sailed in with his accordion, beefed up the fire for us and
then ran down to his apartment to grab extra plates.  David disappeared to pick up Yoltic's mother, who turned
out to be the most darling woman, confessing to Julie that she hates being old because she's no longer able to
cause trouble.  Suddenly, the house started filling up with Jeremy and his friends, including three gorgeous young
Mexican women and a handsome young Mexican musician, who promptly sat on the couch and started playing his
guitar.  

Finally, everyone lined up to fill plates from the kitchen - luscious birds, a huge pot of mashed potatoes, mounds of
stuffing, a variety of stir-fried and roasted vegetables and toasted Mexican bread.  Everything turned out to be
delicious, and shortly Arturo and Jeremy picked up their accordions and Ivan picked up his guitar and the music
started.  Another neighbor, Bart, showed up with Moses, Jack and Shirley's dog (they went back to New Orleans
for the holiday) and a small dog fight ensued.  Arturo insisted that Eleanor recite an A.A. Milne poem she has
learned ("Disobedience"), and I decided to struggle through my Janis Joplin impersonation, butchering the chords
and screeching out
Me & Bobby McGee - after which Bart told us in the States he lives next door to Kris
Krisopherson (who wrote the song, in case you didn't know).  The girls were having a blast, dancing and playing
percussion instruments.  Around midnight, Arturo decided it was time for the girls to get to bed, so he ushered
everyone out - they all lined up and gave us hugs and kisses and thanks.

The next day David gave me hugs and kisses and thanks, and we lamented how we haven't done more of this kind
of thing sooner and more often ... but we admitted that we have been so involved in our writing and everything else
that social events are simply not a priority (David is working on a couple of writing projects ...).  But what a
pleasure it was to throw everything together at the last minute and to share a happy meal with complete strangers
in our less than adequate apartment.  And how thankful we are to have met some really wonderful and interesting
people ... to have Julie here to share this with us ... to be living in these close quarters together and not having
driven each other completely crazy thus far ... to have this opportunity to bring Thatcher to life - as Julie is this
minute is discovering as she reads a bit of the beginning of our first draft ... and to be a citizen of this planet, where
our little corner is doing a bit of all right.
GUERRILLA THANKSGIVING
The Band - Eleanor, Arturo,
Jeremy and Ivan.
The original Party Animal.