traveling well in the islamic world
Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to and live in several Muslim-majority nations. While I’ve loved it immensely, I’ve also watched fellow Americans struggle with the shift. Some of them were hung up on fear, others on assumptions, but all of them probably could have had a better time if they’d had better information. Here are some of the tricks I’ve picked up for enjoying all that the incredibly diverse Islamic world has to offer. 1. Fear Not. As a young woman, I don’t think I’ve traveled anywhere without someone expressing concern about my safety, but this worry seems to go off the charts when I spend time in Muslim-majority countries. People ask if I will have to wear a hijab or even a burqa, neither of which have ever touched my head. They ask about persecution, terrorism, and jihad. They ask me if I really…Continue Reading
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As summer approaches, more and more tourists are making their way to Kosovo, and they all seem to want one thing: the authentic experience. They want to eat the most authentic foods, shop at the most authentic markets, and visit the most authentic sites. When I tell them that my favorite restaurant in Prishtina is a hole-in-the-wall Nepali place, they frown a little and change the subject. Yeah, but where can I get Albanian food? Of course, I don’t blame anyone for wanting to try Albanian food in Kosovo. It’s delicious. But I do get a little concerned when people over-idealize what they perceive as “authentic” to the point where they miss what Kosovo is actually like. Some days, it only takes one horse-drawn cart from the villages riding through town to make the tourists go crazy. They snap a million photos and declare that this must be the real Kosovo,…Continue Reading
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I am a cook-in-progress. I realize the beauty of creating a meal and sharing it with friends new and old. I also don’t exactly have a great memory as far as recipes go, so I either keep it written down somewhere or only make simple things. So, where do you go when you need cooking advice? MOM! Of course. My mom is a brilliant cook and rarely uses written recipes! One thing I learned from her is that many of the foods that are labeled as “hard to make” generally have core ingredients and everything else is added for style or a difference in flavor. Take Thai curry. Here in America, you can go to the international aisle of Target/walmart/grocery store and find the core ingredients: Curry Paste (Yellow, Red, or Green), Coconut Milk, bamboo shoots, and rice. The rest is up to you—add chicken or just veggies or maybe you…Continue Reading
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Somewhere between Kosovo and Bosnia “We missed our bus!” Christer reported back to us after returning from the ticket counter. The truth is this bus may or may not have existed. Transportation is always an adventure in this part of the world. We were in Podgorica, the capital city of Montenegro, on our way to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia Herzegovina. Things had just started to fall into place before this moment. Our contacts e-mailed us back at our last pitstop, where we miraculously had wifi in the bus station, saying they would love to have us in Sarajevo. Up until that moment, we were going on faith to a city with no place to stay. I snapped out of my analytical thought process as Dan came up to us and announced, “I found a taxi with enough seats! It will cost 180 euros, but if we take it, we…
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