For Americans, the Fourth of July is the perfect time for a cookout, a pool party, lots of exploding fireworks and friends & family. It’s a time to remember what we love about America, our freedoms and the sacrifices for those freedoms, and to display how proudly we can wear our red, white and blue. But celebrating the Fourth of July outside of America is a totally different experience.
Even though we had just had a party the week before, we decided to host an impromptu gathering for the Fourth. We invited all the Americans around the ministry center [which was only about 10, because a few were out of town], and the Canadians [because they have an Independence Day too, which was July 1] for our grand festivities. We planned a completely American meal. Burgers, fries, potato chips & dip, Coca-cola, watermelon and apple pie. The easiest part of that menu was the Coca-cola.
Living on a Hindu island the size of Delaware means that beef is in short supply, and is almost always imported from Australia. So, expensive. Which is also why dairy, like cheese, is pricy here too. So cheeseburgers…kind of a splurge. We went out to the Costco-type shopping center for these hard to find items, and even found mustard in the international section! We have no grill, but figured that stovetop burgers would be a good solution for the night. French fries were the next problem. Cooking burgers on our 2 gas burners meant our whole stove was occupied. We have no oven. We did not want to attempt to fry anything in our kitchen. So how could we get fries? We could drive to McDonald’s and bring some back. Or we could have some delivered from a restaurant. We finally decided for a more local option. On our street, we have many food vendors and street carts. One sells various fried chicken options. And french fries. So we negotiated in our limited language skills that we wanted 20 portions of fries on Friday night. And she agreed! Of course, I reminded her again that afternoon [good thing, because she had the day wrong], but all in all it was a successful purchase! The fries were great. We had some oddly flavored potato chips, and even cassava chips which are incredibly popular here. But dipped in a ranch dip, they all taste wonderful. Another friend brought an apple crumble for dessert [which is easier to pull off than an apple pie] and it was delicious.
One of the night’s highlights was the fireworks. One of our Indonesian friends found fireworks [miraculously] and we had enough sparklers for everyone and one big explosion set. We set up the big one inside of a trashcan and supported by large rocks. We lit it with a sparkler and aimed it away from all the power lines. It was SO LOUD. And so beautiful. God bless America!
We finished the night watching the classic movie, Independence Day. We laughed at the American-ness of it all, feeling a bit homesick for our homeland. We have all chosen to live outside of our birth nation, and wouldn’t change our current circumstance for anything. But we still love our heritage and home culture because it makes us who we are. For one night, it was great to completely indulge our American cravings, our American music, our American jokes and our American movies. I love living internationally, but somedays, I’m just real glad to be American. Our next holiday challenge...Thanksgiving. We have between now until November to figure out how to get a turkey and cranberry sauce.