Sunday, August 18, 2013

Another Unexpected Day

August 17 is the Independence Day of our new homeland.  Although it is DEFINITELY no 4th of July celebration (which we REALLY REALLY missed...the BBQ, parade, fireworks...) this was a day of new cultural experiences. 
We left our house a little after 8 to head into town.  We are so thankful that driving around is becoming more "normal" for us all. We enjoyed using the public transport for a time but we are very thankful to be able to go around more by ourselves these days. We were told that the festivities could start around 9...which ended up being 9:30 not too bad! :)
I definitely had my western/patriotic feeling for the day.  I wanted to dress in RED, WHITE and BLUE...ok just RED and WHITE. I expected crowds of people lined up ready to go.  Maybe we should have gotten here sooner so we could get a good spot.  As we approached there were very few people around.  Not a major crowd by any means. 
 We went to the city center where we watched different groups marching,singing, and different government officials read speeches.  Much of this went right over our heads ....and it was VERY HOT outside.  In fact when we first got there we noticed different medical teams spread around with stretchers.  This seemed a little odd to me but we soon figured out why.  They were prepared!  There were many groups of people standing in line formation out on this field in the direct sun light.  Many of the men were in full uniform and women were covered from head to toe as their religion requires them to be.  And it wasn't long into the morning that they started passing out.  I kind of wanted to say "dropping like flies" but that sounds bad.  But there were definitely quite a few who passed out.  The ceremony was very formal and structured (no big tractors or Hispanic dancing horses)  But it was a very cool experience!  H and his buddies really enjoyed the marching groups :)

 We were about to take off when a woman walked up and asked if we would like to go and meet/shake hands with the Mayor.  Uh...sure!  Our group (15-20 people) filed over to the tent where the Mayor and also head of parliament were seated with their wives.  We all kind of stood in a line and shook hands and took pictures.  S was a show stopper as always...thankfully no painful pinching this time ;) Just lots of, "WOW she is so beautiful!" After we took pictures they invited us to the Mayor's house for lunch. 
Lunch was cultural chicken soup with rice.  It was yummy!
Once lunch was over we were invited to come back for dinner and celebration that night.  We got details on when, where, how....and graciously accepted.

 with the head of Parliament
 meeting the Mayor and his wife

 What a cool opportunity!
more pictures and details on the night next time...
its been a long couple days...what a trooper!!!

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