Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving in Djibouti

Happy Thanksgiving from Djibouti!

Would you believe stores already have Christmas decorations up?  Sure you could believe that.  But what if you lived in a country where the majority of the citizens were Muslims?  Honestly, it caught me a little by surprise.  But, the stores do have a strong French and American clientele.  So, it was a pleasant surprise.  And lets face it, Djibouti needs some evergreen trees!  Even if they will only last about a month.

Christmas tree outside the liquor store.  They also had little floating Santa's hung from the ceiling.

The traditions of Thanksgiving in the United States are almost non-existent overseas.  We can't wake up and gather in the living room in our PJ's to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Or even gather after our big meal to watch some football.  Because when we wake up, the majority of the US is headed for bed.  And the parade will be starting right about when we are going to bed.  But even if we stayed up late to watch it.. we don't have any channel to watch it (as our AFN signal has been down for months.. AFN is Armed Forces Network).  My daughter has been talking for a couple weeks about not being able to see the parade on Thanksgiving Day.  Who would have thought that such small traditions we take for granted back in the states would be noticed missing?

But then there are those here overseas that don't have their own TV to gather around.  Those that are stationed at Camp Lemmonier here in Djibouti, some live in communal tents, and some are a little more comfortable in CLU's (Container Living Unit.. picture a removable container on the back of semi-trucks turned into a bedroom).  But they can gather at the Rec area and watch AFN with others that are off duty.  But of course, not everyone will be off duty during that time.  Someone has to stay on guard duty, right?

Photo from
16-person tent at Camp Lemmonier

Photo from
CLU's at Camp Lemmonier
This Thanksgiving we woke up and our neighbors of the compound were outside having a kiddie pool playday.  Why not?  It's a perfect 84 degrees outside!  The kids gathered and had so much fun in the shady part of the compound.  Soaking each other with their pool toys.

And we also decided to dine with the troops at the galley (Navy base chow hall).  We were told they have 170 turkeys that will be served during both lunch and dinner!  But when we showed up to the galley, it as if it had been transformed!  It was amazing!  Decorations everywhere, even with nice table cloths arranged in red, white, and blue.  Fall leaves hung everywhere, and creative food art!  Even one of the employees was dressed in an Indian costume.  I was once again, pleasantly surprised. 

Gator bread anyone?

And then we get to the food line.  All of the officers were behind the line serving the troops their meal.  

Officers behind the line serving us and the troops our meals.

And there was so much food!  Not just turkey!  But also salmon, roast pig, duck, and ham.  And oh, sweet potatoes!  They don't have those available locally.  And deviled eggs, and spiced meat balls.. all the fixins'!  I couldn't fit all of what they were offering on my plate.  I heard someone say when they got to the salad line, "Who has room for salad today?"  The only complaint was that they ran out of rolls before we got there.  Such a feast!  I think it is the best meal I've had in a very long time!  And no, I couldn't eat EVERYTHING on my plate.  But I felt that I had to try some of it all, because it was such a special treat!

A "hull" of plenty.  We are on a Navy base after all.  The other half is filled with more fruit at the other end of the galley.

Want some pie and eggnog?  There were about five different types of pies!  And of course, ice cream was available.

We just happened to sit at a table with other Airmen, most of them were currently deployed from Georgia.  And yes, several people shouted "Little people!  We don't see those around here too often!"  And many were in happy spirits despite being so far from home.  But I assure you, they are all being fed well today.  I think it is now time for one American tradition.. taking a nap after eating so much food!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  Let the holiday season begin!

Djibouti - 84 degrees

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