Monday, 30 December 2013

Adopt a Backpacker

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog about how much I've enjoyed meeting up with old friends and how lucky I've been to have been offered a place to stay for a lot of my trip so far. For me, getting to stay with locals – especially ones I'm already friends with – makes travelling that much better.

Sometimes though, it goes even further than that. Sometimes you get to stay in a situation where, not only do you stay with your friend and have them show you around, sometimes the whole family adopts you.

I've been in a situation like this for the last few weeks in Mexico City. Since catching up with my room mate from Melbourne I've been welcomed by her family and friends as one of their own. Not only have I had a place to stay, I've had the best tour guides ever, been given some great information and taken to the best food places.

Waiting for our "Tacos Al Pastor" 

Its not the first time I've been fortunate enough to be adopted while on the road. My first backpacker adoption came courtesy of my sisters new in-laws – the House Family - in England. While they are in fact also real relations, at the time they adopted me they barely knew me, and yet they helped to create my first “home away from home” when I first started travelling.

Since then I've been fortunate enough to have home cooked meals and a place to stay with families in countries all over the world, and its something that I truly appreciate every time. You sometimes wonder what the adopting family gets out of the situation. Are they just being polite? Or do they really want to share their culture and thoughts with someone from another country?

Christmas in Mexico has to include a piñata

Christmas is a time of year that many backpackers miss their families. Often travellers will organise “orphan Christmas” with fellow foreigners and celebrate as they would back home. I was fortunate enough to have the House family – my sister included – during the Christmases I spent in the UK, however my first Christmas in Canada saw me sitting in a cafe by myself, and I'll admit to feeling quite alone. While Christmas, for me, is not a religious thing, it is a family thing and the following year I was lucky enough to be adopted by my Ottawa room mate's family for Christmas. And while he forgot to mention it to his family beforehand (awkward!), they still welcomed me into their home.

This year I was able to be part of a Mexican Christmas, witnessing the traditions, eating all of the amazing food and even getting a couple of gifts. It was great to be a part of a family environment, even if it wasn't my own family, because to me that is what Christmas is all about.

My Mexican Family for Christmas

Being adopted while on the road doesn't just have to be at the Holidays though – it is appreciated at any time. While it has always been an amazing unexpected surprise for me, I'm hoping to encourage some people in Brazil to get into the spirit in June and July. Yes, I know this is a cheap plug, but there will be a huge amount of travellers hittingBrazil in June, and many would love to see not only the World Cup, but plenty of the Brazilian culture and lifestyle.

So come on Brazil, open up your doors and adopt a backpacker!

I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays, however and whatever they celebrated and I wish everyone a happy new year! 

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