The lack of snow, the lush green vegetation, and the distance from family and friends made it hard to get into the holiday spirit. Mary and I have both struggled with some pretty severe homesickness over the past few weeks. Fortunately, we have some friends here going through exactly the same thing, and we ended up having a heck of a lot of fun on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.
Dr. Mike, a pediatrician from San Diego, hosted a Christmas pot luck dinner and “White Elephant” gift exchange. He has a beautiful house right on Pala Lagoon.
The food was fantastic. Mike grilled about 20 pounds of prime rib, and Mary made a cauliflower-curry casserole and a peach cream pie. I ate all afternoon and evening and never came across anything I didn’t like.
Dr. Mike, in charge of the gift exchange:
After the usual bargaining, theft, and dirty tricks that are part of a White Elephant gift exchange, we left with some pretty good stuff. Mary ended up with a radio-controlled car that she really wanted, and I got a dartboard and a nice set of grill utensils.
New Year’s Eve was similar to Christmas in many ways: great weather, a beautiful house by the water, and more incredible food.
This time the host was Matt, who has some kind of government health/water engineer job that I don’t fully understand. He seems to spend most of his time trying to keep pig farm runoff out of the groundwater. Regardless, he did a great job with these ribs on the grill:
The ladies wanted to celebrate the new year with some island-style beverages, so Matt and I helped them out. First, since Matt’s kind of short, I cut down some coconuts:
Then Matt opened them:
And with the addition of a little coconut rum…
Sarah, Lisa J, and Mary are really enjoying American Samoa.
Matt set up some floodlights so we could play horseshoes, and his yard turned into a stadium. All these folks are intently watching Mary and Kelly S. defeat Joe and Sarah. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the actual game, but I can assure you it was epic.
Because the International Date Line is just west of American Samoa, we were among the last people in the world to celebrate the beginning of the new year. Here’s the first 2011 picture of Mary and me: