Happy Fourth of July, my fellow US citizens! What a glorious blessing it is to have grown up in the wonderful US of A! It’s not a perfect country, but it is home, and it is a land of opportunity and adventure and enterprise and beauty!
I expected today to be rather anticlimactic, but I’m pleased to report that we made quite a celebration for ourselves down here in PG! The success of our Independence Day festivities is due in part to the presence of Zach, Caitlin, and Katelyn, three ProWorlders from Cayo (Zach is staff and the C/Kaitlins are volunteers). These three awesome humans have been working with SHI this week, and added significantly to our US contingent down here in PG, which previously consisted of only Jamie, Coi, and me, since Akiesha is in Cayo for the week. Six Americans strong thanks to our visitors, we gathered the support of our Belizean colleagues and got a little party started!
Zach took charge of our beer-marinated chicken, which turned into a Coca-Cola marinated chicken, and also made some beautiful cheeseburgers and a deviled egg appetizer. I was in charge of roasted potatoes, chocolate chip cookies, and a frozen oreo-pudding dessert. Caitlin and Katelyn made a salad that was out of this world—cilantro, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and an awesome dressing made with fresh lime juice. Jill kindly allowed us full reign over the kitchen, where we proceeded to make (and eventually clean up—don’t worry, Mom and Dad!) a sizable mess.
We convinced Noemi and Perlina to stick around a little later than usual for the feast, and Olivia and Estevan, Herminio (from SHI), and Andrea were all present as well. While there were no fireworks, we did have some great music, lots of laughter, and an amazingly delicious meal! The highlight for me was the chicken, which Caitlin doctored up with expertise. It turns out that before going to the University of Maine, she went to culinary school! I’m sharing a picture of her beautiful concoction here—basically it’s bone-in chicken marinated alongside pineapple slices, green peppers, and onions in a mixture of chicken bouillon, all-purpose seasoning, salt, pepper, lime juice, and Coca-Cola. I don’t know if you’ve ever eaten a piece of grilled pineapple marinated in Coca-Cola, but I would encourage you to do it immediately if you haven’t. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars—just go get your grill on! (Haley, if you’re reading this, this especially refers to you. Jamie and I were both pretty disappointed that you weren’t around to taste the amazingness of fruits and vegetables that we ate tonight!)
As we were eating, we encountered a group of three travelers, who turned out to be from France. I had a nice conversation with them (in English, which they thankfully understood) and helped them to plan out their bus travels for the following day. Then I handed them four cameras and asked them to take a picture of our little Fourth of July party, which they graciously did!
No, no fireworks, but really, I think the Fourth of July is about two things: barbecue (duh) and pride in the beautiful country that we call home. I’m thankful for where I come from, and thankful for all the places I’ve been able to go. While it’s great to be a citizen of the US, I think it’s even greater to be a citizen of the world!
I was thinking today about all of the wonderful, patriotic songs that I’d be singing around the house if I were home in New Jersey today. I don’t know if I’ve officially decided which of them is my favorite, but I’d love to share one that I hold especially dear. This is a version of the Battle Hymn of the Republic that I once sang with the South Jersey Chorus. Hearing it never ceases to send chills down my spine. To those of you who do click, I would recommend closing your eyes and just listening. Happy Fourth of July, all!