This is the story of my 6 months of studying in Arizona in 2010 and subsequent travels in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas celebrations

After our little trip to the Sonoran Desert Museum December 23rd (or "Little Christmas Eve" as we call it in Danish), we had a very relaxing morning on the 24th. Spending a while in the gym was pretty much all we did - and it was nice. :) At 5 PM my professor Ernie from Strategic Planning picked us up again, this time to celebrate Christmas Eve with his family at his sister's place. First we went to his house where we met his wife Marianne, who was very sweet to us from the very moment we met her. :) Always nice to be welcomed with a warm hug and a thorough tour of house and garden! We gave Ernie the present we had gotten for him; two books of Grooks, little pragmatic verses written by the Danish artist and writer, Piet Hein. Check them out by clicking here!

The reason we went by Ernie's house was that they have a special tradition in the neighborhood. For every few feet of street they put a white paper bag with a lit candle inside, and when it gets dark, the roads are lined with these pretty little lamps. We drove around for a little while to enjoy, and then headed to the dinner. Here we met Ernie's sister Lizzie and her husband Tom, their daughter and Marianne's daughter. Later Ernie's sun and his wife joined us. The atmosphere was warm and cosy, the dinner light and delicious, and we had some very nice talks about culture and related topics. Before we left we took a closer look at the decorative little christmas town set-up, and we realised that something was wrong... What was the stuffed yak doing on the street? The bear on the roof of the church? The lion with the people? And the car in the Merry-go-round? Apparently Tom was bored with the traditional way, and decided to spice things up. Way to go! :)

December 25th was to be spent with the Sanford's, and Theo picked us up at 10 AM so that we could get there to help with the dinner preparations. So we spent the morning hanging around the big cooking island in the kitchen, pealing potatoes, eating cookies, and playing "Apples to Apples". Was just so cosy! Then sit was time for handing out presents, though we were not aware that there the Sanford's had bought stuff for us as well. Amazing people... We all got a bunch of presents; candy, a homemade scarf, cosy pants, a picture fram, and other little things! Wow! We had brought a present for the family, namely a picture of a Piet Hein (click on the picture to see a larger version).

Around dinner time we were Rachel, Janine, and Chuck Sanford, Julie Sanford and her family of 4 kids and husband, Theo and Jing, and Helene and me. Like at Thanksgiving, the amounts of food were substantial, even more actually! Besides the apparently mandatory turkey, we also had roast beef and lamb. Side dishes included (but were not limited to... ;)) mashed potatoes, mashes sweet potatoes, turkey stuffing, gravy, asparagus, rice, creamed corn, and fruit salad. This time I actually managed not to get insanely full! After another game of Apples to Apples we went back home to rest and read. I was very happy to hear that Helene had also had a great day, and really enjoyed to hospitality of the Sanford's. It was hard to say goodbye that last time, I have really been so lucky to be taken under their wings this semester.

Next day we woke up and got some work out done, and after lunch at home we met with Nik and his friend Silvan, who had a rental car. We went to San Xavier mission 10 mins drive from Tucson, an old missionary church in the desert. Great weather, great views, and very nice company! Back in Tucson we parked the car and tried to get into the cathedral, but like on our previous trip downtown it was locked. Then we went to 4th Avenue, checked out some shops and got coffee and lemonade in a cafĂ©, before going up the A-mountain to see the view of the city and the sunset. Really spectacular! Coming home to La Aldea we met Ying in the kitchen, and she insisted on cooking dinner for us, since the day after was my birthday. And well, we wouldn't say no to delicious Chinese food! :)

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