I have participated in a lot of cultural celebrations while I have been here, but this last one was really unique. Groups of people from all around and outside of the city formed processions and marched into the center of town. I can’t give specifics, and I am sorry because it is real interesting (so you need to ask me about it when I get back home…) But I can tell you there was a lot of singing, red carpet rolling, drumming, and dancing. I am pretty sure that I walked 5 miles with my group in the midday African sun…it was exhausting but very beautiful.
The National Christmas is not until the 7th of January in the country so the holidays just stretched on for me. They have adopted some western holiday practices like the Christmas tree and lights, but most people don’t decorate. The main tradition here is to get together with friends and family and eat a bunch of food. They have been on a vegan fast for 4 weeks, so there is a lot of meat being served. Everyone buys chicken, sheep, goats and cows at the market a few days before hand and then you can hear them bleat and cry all over the city. I was invited over to two houses for the day. I ate a lot of spicy chicken wat, boiled eggs, and injera. I was also given a lot of coffee. Both houses performed coffee ceremonies where you are given the traditional three rounds of the drink. Popcorn and a special type of bread was served at the houses as well. Needless to say, I was very full and very caffeinated that day.
Filed under Food, Holiday
I spent my second Christmas overseas – and you know what? – it wasn’t that bad. The first year was pretty depressing, but this year I really tried to create the things I missed. They do not really have any Christmas traditions here – except eating a lot of food. So we found a Christmas tree, bought and made presents, decorated cookies, watched a lot of Christmas movies, and went caroling. We felt like a family this year. It was good for my heart.
Roasted chicken, homegrown yams, pickled beets. Everyone put their best foot forward this year. I was stuffed to the brim.
Filed under Food, Holiday
This year, we turned my annual pumpkin carving party into a super-kid-friendly harvest party. We played all sorts of games, ate all sorts of candy, and carved all sorts of pumpkins. Oh, and the best part? Watching Casper to close the day. What comes a close second? Watching all the kids dunk for oranges. (I know, it is weird to not have apples in the fall.)
This weekend we celebrated Megadis’ 5 year birthday. Megadis is our house-worker’s little girl. She has spunk and attitude. We thought the perfect things to give her were “movie star” sunglasses, costume jewelry, and bubbles. She danced around her mom’s coffee ceremony and her birthday cake, blowing bubbles as close to our faces as we would let her. Here’s to five more years of craziness!
Have I mentioned that we get bored frequently here? Well, we also like throwing parties – so whats better than having a 4th of July Independence Day party where half the guests are not even from America! We threw a cookout and invited our German, African, Australian, and American friends to celebrate freedom everywhere. Our fireworks were rained-out, but that just gave us extra time to gather inside and sing all of our National Anthems, in the dark (that’s right, our electricity was out). It was definitely a memorable 4th.
Filed under Friends, Holiday
Filed under Family, Holiday
Here, as in many third-world countries, ideas about the mentally-disabled are far from modern. There are many misconceptions about what causes it and what can be done for it. Many times, the mentally-disabled are shunned or abused; and there are very few nationally-sponsored special programs or education for those with this type of special need. But things are changing, at least in my little town. Just this past year, a school opened the area’s first classroom for students with special needs. The director of this school is adamant about educating parents and the community about the mentally-disabled. The Center that I am here with is sending its special-needs children to this classroom. A sponsor of the Center from Australia heard about the school and got together Christmas presents for all of its special-needs students. I was blessed to be one of the “workers” who got to go and distribute those presents.
The kids were so excited. They were just so happy to have visitors come to their classroom, but the fact that we had gifts for them was totally amazing. Kids here don’t receive presents often, if at all, so it was just an extra joy to be able to bless these kids with some. To give you some idea of how weird this was for them – they had no idea how to deal with the wrapping paper, they had probably never seen anything like it before. For the most part, we had to open their presents for them. They didn’t mind, and I didn’t mind much either.
So, everyone tried really hard to make it feel like Christmas here. We had a Christmas baking party, Christmas movie night, school Christmas party with crafts, and we even drank Wassail. The kids seemed to have fun at least…
Filed under Food, Holiday