Sunday, September 18, 2011

When I arrive, what should I eat? Boerewors? Kadayif?

With all the questions one has to answer when traveling to a new destination,
What should I eat is one of my favorites. It’s much more interesting to contemplate than what vaccinations I need and how many pages must there be in the passport for the visa that’s required.

Because I’m about to embark on a journey that will take me within the span of two weeks to South Africa and then to Turkey food is very much on my mind.  There will be
Boerewors, a spicy sausage to sample in Cape Town and Kadayif, a handmade "shredded" pastry in Istanbul to say nothing of  dozens of other dishes and drinks.  To get an idea of the possibilities two sites I discovered are:  Explore South Africa, ( or (

It’s exciting to have the opportunity to sample cuisines with such rich and long standing traditions.  Settlers and traders brought their food, spices, grains and livestock to both countries.  New foods were added to the traditional meals.  The selections and menus evolved.  History, tradition, culture and contemporary society come to life through understanding the foods of each place.  Sampling, exploring the markets and the restaurants and discovering the answers to What shall I eat? will be a delightful form of experiential learning.

If your travels take you to other places you may may want to check out the website Food In Every Country (  It provides fascinating information about the cuisine of sixty-eight countries and regions ranging from Algeria to Zimbabwe. 

Before you go, now there's one more question to ask?  What should I eat when I arrive?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The new year begins when?

Around the world people celebrate the arrival of a new year on January 1. It seems to be a shared truth that this date marks the beginning of a new year full of opportunity and possibility.  But is it?  Does a new year begin then?  Maybe the beginning of the new year is a matter of choice.  Is that possible?

For my friend Barb Sullivan September 1 marks the beginning of a year.  Just a days ago she began a new year that she’s calling her Year of Opportunities (it is year long sabbatical from her position as Chief of Protocol for the City of Toronto).  In the first post on the blog created to chronicle her experiences she wrote about her idea that September 1 starts a new year ( Reading her post led me to think about the possibility that the beginning of a new year can vary, be a personal choice of both date and way to celebrate.

Of course we all have birthdays that mark the passage of a year, hence a new year begins for each of us on that date, the anniversary of our birth.  But must that be our personal New Year?  Many of us chose to celebrate Chinese New Year as well as the January 1 New Year and for some of us Rosh Hashonah, the Jewish New Year, is the most meaningful of the celebrations. 

As I thought this idea I realized nations have “birthdays” which begin new years for the country and its people.  These birthdays or National days or Independence Days which are marked by special celebrations.  If you’re in the US, Independence day (July 4 ) is a day for picnics and fireworks.  In 2011 Eritrea’s independence celebration included a beauty pageant.  Chile has a week of celebrations that include Chilean cowboy music and fiesta partias (patriotic parties). (  South Sudan will celebrate the first anniversary of its independence on July 9, 2012 with the form of the celebration yet to be revealed.

Each country has a special way to celebrate but all share one common practice, something that’s important for a traveler to know.  On independence day wherever you are, many businesses will be closed.  The dates vary.  Before you plan a trip its useful to find out if  Independence day that will be observed during your visit.  (  Avoid surprises, enjoy the festivities.

All in all there are many days that can be counted as the beginning of a new year.  Follow tradition or create one of your own.  Will you begin a new year once in a calendar year or multiple times?  The decision can be yours. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A New Country Almost Two Months Old

On July 9, 2011 South Sudan, a nation of 8 million people, officially gained its independence.  Once part of the country of Sudan, it now stands a unique nation and on July 14 it joined the United Nations becoming member country  #193.  

Beyond the headline announcing it ascension to this major world organization we can observe other indicators of the existence of a new county.  It has an official name:  Republic of South Sudan.  A flag.  A national anthem.  A motto:  Justice, Liberty, Prosperity.  A calling code ( 211)  and an official language: English. 

On a practical note, a currency was created and issued:  the South Sudanese pound. You can see a photo at the International Business Times  http://www.   On one side the bills feature a photo of John Garange who led the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army and signed the peace agreement that led to the independence voted on July 9.  Although the pound is now in circulation you can’t yet check the exchange rate on the Universal Currency Converter site ( or Oanda ( but check back, the currency is new.

The Republic has a capital city, Juba.  However, it was just announced that it will create a new capital in Ramciel moving over the next three to five year to a location that will provide with ample room for expansion, creation of government buildings and construction of embassies for representatives of other nations.

Looking for background about this new nation?  Find details in the Wikipedia and the CIA WorldFactobook.  Prefer a site dedicated to current news?  You can read current articles on (  or ( set a Google Alert and receive news from a variety of sources.

 If you have followed the recent news you’d know in addition to naming a new capital location, that the struggle with Sudan (the north, the remainder of the original country) over boundaries and oil revenue is on-going.  Further you’d have discovered that the first embassy of South Sudan will be built in Israel although the city, either Jerusalem or Tel Aviv,  has yet to be confirmed. 

What else will happen in the months ahead?  What will the stories that we'll read on July 9, 2012, the first anniversary of the independence of the Republic of South Sudan?