"Acción de Gracias" is what they call "Thanksgiving" here even though they don't actually celebrate it. Those of you that refer to the day as "El Día de Gracias" are, in a word, wrong. :)
The VAC retreat was held at a boyscout camp in the mountains above Cartago, Southeast of San José. It was COLD. It wasn't just Costa Rica cold either, it was freezing-see-your-breath-cold. I was very THANKFUL that I decided to bring my sleeping bag because I was the only one that was not hording blankets like jailhouse cigarettes. It was actually a nice break from the increasingly hotter weather in Puntarenas and was the first time it actually felt like the holiday season.
The conference was a lot of fun. I got to hang out with people I havn't seen since training and met other PCV's I havn't had a chance to get to know yet. I learned that although I have found a host of small insects and reptiles in my room, it could definately be worse. One guy said he has trouble sleeping because the rats scurrying around his room at night are quite loud. He did say that he does have a little game he plays with them, when they run accross his chest he pulls the sheets tight and catapults them across the room. Now that would be something to see.
There was an "American Idol" style talent show on Wed night that was a riot. There was singing and dancing and an incredible impression of Simon, the "rude" judge (I've never seen the show but I understand he did quite well.) A group of Tico 13ers won with a powerful display of, if not talent then, creativity including a a guitar, a human beatbox, a guy doing yoga and headstands, two guys throwing verse, and two guys waving a blanket. They were called "Funky Shannon and the Magic Carpet." I think it was definately something you have to see to appreciate.
Thanksgiving dinner included the staples, turkey, stuffing (never as good as home), potatoes, cranberry sauce (shipped from the states) and salad. We had a bonfire afterwards, sang campfire songs and roasted 'smores. (Those of us who could still move anyways.) It was the most fun you could have in Costa Rica for Thanksgiving. As hard as it is to be away from home, it really reasserted my reasons for being here. There are a lot of incredible people here doing incredible things. This Thanksgiving, we were reminded that there are a lot of people in the world who don't have a fraction of what we do and that even though it feels like we are removed from most of it, what we carry with us, what we do, and what we stand for is beautiful.