White-sand beaches and warm sunshine replaced the cold Thanksgivings we were used to in the US, but it made for an unforgettable holiday.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and it’s important to me to make it a day that my kids will always remember. We were in our second year of our four year sailing adventure. The year before we were in the Dominican Republic for Thanksgiving. It was our first year ever to celebrate a holiday outside the US and with the warm weather and different culture, Thanksgiving sneaked up on us. I didn’t realize it was Thanksgiving until the day before. Needless to say, it was a mad scramble to find “American” food to make a traditional meal. We had to settle with sliced turkey from the deli, mashed potatoes and green beans. I was determined I would never let that happen again.
The next November found us on the beautiful island of Crasqui, an island part of the Los Roches National Park in the out-islands of Venezuela. We had an eclectic group to share our meal. The Americans were represented by our family, a family from Seattle, Washington, a family from NY, and a family from California. Roberto, an Italian diplomat’s son and now a fashion designer, represented Italy. A young couple named Hilge and Therese represented Sweden. We were all living on sailboats, Alegria, Salt & Light, Independence, Uliad and Coquelicot, crossing the Caribbean. We had all come together in the name of friendship.
Roberto arranged the meal at the small restaurant on the very small island. Roberto’s father had been the Italian ambassador to Venezuela, so Roberto was familiar with these islands. These out-islands, part of the Los Roches National Park are very remote—a little over one hundred miles to the mainland of Venezuela.
Crasqui is small with white-sand beaches surrounding a crystal clear harbor and great snorkeling. It’s a remote paradise, a hidden gem in the Caribbean few Americans venture to see. You can get there by boat or a small plane to Los Roches, then a boat to Crasqui. Either way, it’s a well worth it adventure!
The restaurant was rustic: white-sand floors, a hammock in the corner, a bright blue covered settee. A long table was set up and on each plate, an orange hibiscus flower greeted us. It was perfect!
The food, freshly caught and prepared by Felipe and Patricia was delicious. No we didn’t have turkey or mashed potatoes but we had a feast! We stuffed ourselves on unending platters of freshly caught, melt-in-your-mouth lobster, oysters, two types of tuna prepared sushi-style, tiny, crunchy fried fish and spicy conch salad. No one left the table hungry.
Felipe and Patricia couldn’t do enough for us. Felipe even let me play DJ with his surprisingly diverse iPod. We danced into the evening until it was time to head to Uliad for a late night desert. Before we left the restaurant, I exchanged warm, heartfelt hugs with our hosts. They now felt like part of our family.
We ended the night much too late, talking and laughing on the deck of Uliad, exchanging stories of life, holidays past, and reflecting on how thankful we were to be spending this time together. It was the perfect Thanksgiving.