Sometimes, when you travel or live abroad you aren’t really sure what’s going on. As I’ve recently admitted, my signature pose says, “I have no idea what’s going on but I’m excited.” You might kind of get it, but mainly you just go with it. Kind of like when Alejandro told me he was going to throw eggs at his friend for graduation, seriously, Argentinians throw eggs at new graduates. I don’t get it but I will totally jump on that bandwagon. Or when I was at the Buddhist Nunnery in India and a politician or something came to see the nunnery and my fellow teacher and I were told to stay in the kitchen. To this day I don’t really know what that was about, at the time we invented a ridiculous story as to why they consoled us with stale cookies and lots of chai tea, but pretty much we just accepted the situation and went with it. Or when my rickshaw driver got lost and transferred me to a different rickshaw driver, yeah, I just went with it. Here are 5 times I just let it happen:
1. That Time I Remembered the Fifth of November (UK)
November 5th is a holiday in Britain, called Guy Fawkes Night. I’d seen V for Vendetta before, and was pretty stoked to hear that the British celebrate when a guy almost blew up parliament. The first year I was living in England I went to a formal for the holiday, a good time was had by all, plenty of good food and alcohol. In the end everyone watched fireworks from a little hill on the graduate school campus. That did not prepare me for the following year when I went to Bonfire Night in Oxford. Just visit the website for the event which is held in South Park every year, the background is moving flames on every page. I was expecting a big muddy field, fireworks, pricey food served out of trailers, and a big crowd. I was not expecting a gigantic man made out of wood to be lit on fire and for everyone to watch it burn. All I could think of was that movie The Wicker Man where the burning wicker man is filled with animals and people. I know that ancient Druids are alleged to have burned such effigies with people inside, but there is little to no archaeological evidence of these events. Plus, I had no idea I was about to see this go down, and everyone else seemed to be so into watching this enormous human burn. They were totally unfazed by the flaming wood that was being thrown from the intense effigy, so I didn’t want to disturb their pyromaniac vibes by asking a lot of questions.
I just went with it.
2. That Time We Found Miniature Furniture (Germany)
When my friend Olivia and I visited Berlin, winter was not messing around. It was snowing heavy, and often. Trudging through snow is exhausting; your feet get cold, your balance is off, and you will inevitably slip at one point or another. Needless to say we got pretty tired from hauling ourselves all over the sprawling city. We were exhausted, but we kept on moving along because we didn’t want to go anywhere to buy food and there were no benches outside. Well, there were no normal sized benches outside. We found teeny tiny outdoor furniture and we were so excited by it that I don’t even remember looking to see why it was there. What was the purpose? Just a teeny bench outside with a few teeny chairs (god, I feel like I’m writing a kid’s poem “and the teeny tiny girl sat in the teeny tiny chair”). Olivia sat on it and proclaimed, “I’m a giant!” Then we kept walking, we just went with it and never did find out what that was all about.
Olivia says, “I’m a giant!”
3. That Time I Came Across an Eerily Somber Parade (UK)
I’ve briefly mentioned this experience before in my One Day Guide to London. While trying to find the Occupy London protest some friends and I walked right into a really strange parade with people dressed up in old fashioned clothes, kids wearing military uniforms, and a lone protester holding a sign that said something about a guy being killed by the Freemasons. My friends were all from the UK and not one of them could figure out what was going on. All the parade watchers seemed into it, even if it was hard to tell how pleased they were by the lack of excitement on their faces, they were certainly paying attention to this really weird parade. I just went with it, watched the parade for a bit, snapped some pictures. I don’t know what was going on there.
I guess I could look up the Langbourn Club, but I probably won’t.
4. That Time With Two Random Cows (India)
I’ve written about living in a cave on a hill in India. Well, check out this picture to see what I mean as a cave and then I’ll continue with my story:
See that little white ‘building’? That’s the cave.
As you can see, the cave is way up on a hill, built into the cliff wall (hence it being a cave), and there is no greenery up there. It’s pretty isolated. One uneventful afternoon as I was resting in my cot in the cave, I heard what sounded like people walking up the hill. The door was wide open to let the light in, so I sat up and waited for whoever was coming to approach the door. It wasn’t a person who came, but two cows. What the? Two cows just hanging out. Chillin’ up at the cave, I’d never seen cows in the village before and no one mentioned that there may be a few meandering cattle nearby. I just sat there, laughed, snapped some pictures of the odd situation. I never did find out where those cows came from or where they went. To be honest I never even asked, I just went with it.
5. That Time On a Daytime Disco Ferry (Finland-Estonia)
Two years ago my sister was living in Finland and I went to visit her during part of my spring break. She wanted to travel somewhere outside of Finland, so we decided to take a train from Tampere to Helsinki and then a ferry to Tallin, Estonia. Little did we know that what we thought was an ordinary ferry ride was actually a big shopping mall full of drunk Finnish people buying cheap booze and cigarettes, oh and dancing in a disco in the middle of the day. We were on vacation so we tried to just go with it. We went round for round on some drinks, she went up to get us a couple of beers. She came back with a beer and a shot. It was more expensive for one beer than it was for one beer plus a shot. I don’t just mean a better deal, I mean a beer plus a shot < a beer. Really. We watched drunken drama usually reserved for people stumbling home from the bars unfold in the light of day. We could have found another place to hang out on the ship, but the disco was the only place with any open seats. So…we just went with it.
My sister laughing at our weird situation.
Yes, a real disco, strobe lights and all.
What can I say? Sometimes you just have to go with it.
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