Monday, November 14, 2011

Day #7 - Celebrate

Day #7 of 30 Days of Indie Travel
Joining in a local festival, holiday or special event is a great way to learn more about a local culture. Share the story of a celebration that meant something to you on your travels.

I feel like my stories for this one are not as cool as they have been for the others... o well.

When I arrived in Egypt it was the middle of the month of Ramadan. I knew a limited amount about it, but I learned fast. Mostly this involved stocking up on food to eat in the privacy of my room and getting used to the odd opening hours of stores and accepting that everyone slept all day. But it also involved some excellent conversations with some Muslim friends about  the holiday and what it meant to them. 

A second was Eid al Adha, when animals are slaughtered in the street and everyone is encouraged to donate what they can so that everyone has something to eat for the holiday. The giving was really nice, and the holiday in general kinda reminded me of Thanksgiving.

Another celebration that was one of my favorite abroad was my own birthday. This past year I was in Chile for my birthday, living with a host family. The day before, I went out to dinner with a bunch of gringo friends at a Middle Eastern restaurant I had been wanting to try. The night of my birthday, I went out with a few gringos and a bunch of Chilean friends and we went dancing. The next day, the extended family came over for onces and they all bought me little presents. My sister made me a picture frame with family photos. 
This was the first birthday I'd spent away from home, and I realized that at home I have one group of amazing friends, but it's just the one group. Having several groups to celebrate my birthday with in different ways was a new and awesome experience. And being away from home is one I'll have to get used to since I'll be in Korea next year, I'm excited for it.

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