Thanksgiving in a Far Away Place

Thanksgiving RoosterThanksgiving was almost upon us. Even though it wasn’t a celebrated holiday in West Africa’s The Gambia, we intended to make it a special day and invited two fellow Peace Corps volunteers to join us.

Our chickens were all producing eggs so we didn’t want to slaughter one of them. I decided to buy a live chicken. Buying one already slaughtered, defeathered and prepared to cook was unheard of in this rural, third-world country.

That morning, soon after I arrived at work at the Health Centre, I asked Sister Roberts if live chickens were always available at the market. I didn’t even bother asking about a turkey–I’d never seen one in The Gambia. Sister was familiar with our Thanksgiving. “You’ll want a big bird, Mariama, so you should buy a rooster. But you must leave now or they’ll all be gone. People buy birds early in the morning.”

“Leave now? But I have this work to do.”

“That work can wait. You need to get your Thanksgiving bird.”

So I left the Health Center and walked to the market. Sure enough, the few birds for sale were going fast. I found a large rooster and bought him, probably paying more than I should have. I’d forgotten to ask Sister Roberts what it would cost. It was big and I had my hands full of flapping wings before I could settle him into the crook of my arm.

Planning to put him in our chicken coop, I stopped by the hospital to tell Sister I’d purchased my bird and I’d be back as soon as I took him home and walked back again.

“Why walk all the way home and back again? Here, give him to me.”

She opened a supply closet door, put the rooster on the floor and closed the door. My mind whirled with the idea of a live chicken in a hospital closet.

Once in awhile that day we’d hear a muffled cock-a-doodle-doo coming from the closet. No one else seemed to think it was strange at all.

At the end of the day I picked up my bird and carried him home. I stroked his smooth head feathers. Already I’d grown attached to him, but I steeled myself for his pending demise. I wasn’t looking forward to that part of our Thanksgiving preparations.

I had a renewed appreciation for America’s pilgrims and how they had an even more difficult struggle for food. We added a new level of appreciation and thanksgiving..

9 thoughts on “Thanksgiving in a Far Away Place

  1. Hi Sweet Mary, Q and I and the Crew send loving thoughts your way and wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving. Was so nice to see you over the weekend, though I wish we were in the same booth to have visited more…. We head to Arizona on Saturday for 10 days to be with my sister, step-mom and brother. Wishing Christopher was coming with us, but looking forward to getting out of dodge for a bit! bye for now.

  2. Pingback: Mary E. Trimble: Thanksgiving in a Far Away Place | Camano Community

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