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Because you can't spend all day every day journeying around IgoUgo, editors round up the highlights: members' notable trips, newest reviews, favorite destinations, contests, and more. Have a question or idea? Let us know!

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Season's Greetings: Stories from Ecuador and Syria

Season's Greetings: Stories from Ecuador and Syria Photo

Photo by Shady Ady

Posted on December 24, 2008 in Trip Ideas

Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or simply a new year’s worth of vacation days, these two stories from IgoUgo holidays past will remind you of the magic of the season and the power of travel.

Shady Ady may have long since returned home from Ecuador, but we like to relive his exploits from time to time, and his experiences titled Week 63 – A Better Christmas? and Week 64 – Strangely Familiar have everything we’ve come to expect from the self-proclaimed vagabonder: a lot of fluid-covered children, a spot on national TV, a visit to a sergeant’s house, and a laugh-inducing salsa session. But there’s plenty of heart, too, and great descriptions of the holidays in rural South America. Let’s just say that Shady Ady started out so homesick he was wishing for George Michael Christmas music, and ended up feeling so comfortable that “things were strangely familiar to what [he] had been used to.”

Far from strangely familiar is Syria, where, two years earlier, HobWahid found himself for Christmas. But by being proactive, he managed to make it “the most magical and spiritual Christmas” he’d ever had—a “life-changing experience” complete with fresh snow. He writes about his experience checking into a monastery in Christmas Among Monks, saying that after several days with its residents he "was ready to give up [his] worldly possessions and become a monk.” His descriptions of Christmas Eve services that lasted until 5am are filled with such warmth and fondness that it’s clear he fulfilled his desire to “see what Christmas could really be like, a Christmas without mall Santas, singing angel ornaments, and Jimmy Stewart on TV.”

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