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Not a cloud is in the azure sky as we climb aboard the back of our hired truck.

Even with the 5 adults and 9 kids we load up, we aren't near as packed as most of the trucks that offer Q3 transportation between villages for the local people.

It's two days before Thanksgiving, a holiday not celebrated in Guatemala, but we Americans are on a mission -- we're hunting a turkey for our Thanksgiving feast.

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Excited children chatter and chortle as we cruise along toward the small village of Concepcion in the highlands of Guatemala.

As we arrive the dominant centerpiece is a stately cathedral, built in 1621, which bestrides the town centre. Local children stare goggle-eyed in amazement at our strange band, but shyly hide whenever we smile in their direction.

We locate our first turkey, but his scrawny, bony body will make a meager offering for our feast.

We search some more through the town, but little is to be found. We deliberate and discuss our options. We can buy a big fat turkey in the Despensa (owned by Walmart) 🙁 for about Q300. Or we can pay the driver more, and go to another village to find a turkey (or maybe even a pig), which will help support the local community and give our kids a memorable experience.

Back in the truck we go, without a clear decision. However, we're enjoying the sun-shiney day, perfect weather and beautiful scenery.

After a bathroom break in Pana, we decide to drive to Panimiche to search for more 'eatable' animals. Even if we don't find one, it will be worth it because it's such a delightful day, and it's great to create memories with friends.

Once in Panimiche, we find a few good options...

(The birds and pigs are fed mostly on corn, not surprising since there's such an abundance of it in this country) 😉

Then we hit the jackpot!

A family of five children -- orphans -- left without a mom or dad, have a herd of 15+ turkeys. The natives goggle while we giggle and chase and debate and deliberate over their turkeys (and pig, Greg's vote).

In the interim of our contemplations, we meander over to the neighbors house, to see her weaving work and buy a few pine cones (for my centerpiece table decoration).

These are some of our favorite experiences -- interacting with the locals, laughing, smiling, learning. It's these authentic occurrences that make travel so memorable.

Finally a decision is made... we'll take the turkey for Q300. (Add in the Q400 for transportation, and this makes it one very expensive bird -- but a very memorable one as well.) Watch the video of the full day of turkey hunting here.

Back in the truck, we decide that 'Tasty' is what we'll call the turkey. Tomorrow, my hubby will be in charge of the turkey harvest

Friends forever

Wednesday morning we are greeted at six a.m. by the 'gobble, gobble' from Tasty -- his last day in mortality.

Later, he's renamed 'Bob' by Atlas (2), and the name sticks.

The day is busy with a dog neutering (you can watch that video here -- viewer discretion advised) in the morning, then Bob's time comes in the late afternoon. You can watch the full video of the turkey harvest here (viewer discretion  also advised.)

It is a learning experience for the kids that you just can't get in a classroom.

Then 'Bob' goes into the fridge until Thanksgiving day, and we end up running to the Despensa (aka Walmart) for a second turkey anyway (just in case... Bob's a little small).

Thursday morning Bob and the store bought bird are stuffed and placed in the oven.

Finally, everything is ready. The table is set (decorations hand made by yours truly)...

Pies, casseroles, mashed potatoes and gravy made...

Friends have arrived!

And it's time to get stuffed (and grateful).

As we take turns around the table sharing what we're thankful for, we ask Atlas,

"What are you grateful for Atlas?"


(And in the end, I have to ask did anyone read this blog post that I just spent 10+ hours on?)



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8 Responses

  1. NatalieG

    Rachel, I thoroughly enjoyed your post and the videos. They were great! Even watching Bob’s demise, which reminded me of growing up semi-rural; we didn’t do the actual slaughter ourselves, but I do remember having to help package stuff after we’d get a 1/2 beef from the butcher, or when the ‘men-folk’ would bring back the haul from squirrel/rabbit/duck/pheasant hunting. Oh, and tell Gregg he rocks that handlebar ‘stach in the video! 🙂 My husband is in the process of growing in his full beard now that it’s gotten ‘cold’ here in South Carolina.

    • RachelDenning

      @NatalieG That is a great story 🙂 We never really had those experiences growing up, I’m glad my kids can get them. Kyah said it’s different eating something when you know where it came from 🙂
      Glad you like the ‘stach — he did shave it already though. He looks much younger without it. 🙂

  2. Carol K8z

    I read it! Great adventures! Love and miss you all so much…Atlas is getting so big and so adorable!

  3. mytreasuredcreations

    I read it!! But I missed the photo of the turkey roasted coming out of the oven. 🙂

  4. RFIndependence

    Beautiful pictures! Where is Concepción? That church looks so peaceful and well preserved.


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