Wednesday, January 25, 2012

RHETO Extravaganza: 5/1/2012

     Many activities in the world entertain the lives of everyday citizens. Sometimes people fill their time by watching T.V., shopping, or occupying themselves with a hobby like horse back ridding. Since my arrival in Belgium I have passed the time through traveling extravaganzas. An opportunity presented itself at my school, St. Rock, about a trip to Slovakia. With every advantage which appears I take hold of, so I decided to participate on the school trip. With much pleasure, I will retell my stories of the "RHETO field trip" with St. Rock from beginning to end; day by day.
     The night of my first day of the RHETO field trip with my school did not start until after a little party with my host family. My host dad decided to cook the meal that night instead of my host mom. Usually, Christine, my host mom, cooks because she is an expert but Pascal, my host dad, did a splendid job on his cheesy potato and chicken dish. Christine still had an energy to bake, so she made a "Galette Des Rois:" King's Cake.
     The desert called King's Cake is made during the celebrations of Epiphany, which is associated with the christmas holiday in European countries. A trinket is hidden inside the cake and the lucky person to find it inside their slice is dubbed "the king or queen of the feast" and sometimes the person is required to wear a crown. The king or queen for the occasion must make or buy a Galette Des Rois the next time.
     The tradition of placing the lucky charm inside King's Cake is believed to originate from a Roman festival called the Saturnalia. The Roman festival lasted twelve days at the end of each year. The tradition gave the winning slave or a citizen a chance to play a social role reversal on the twelfth day of the festival during the Epiphany or, also known as, the Day of the King.
     In the twelvfth century Pope Julius made "Le Jour des Rois" an official holiday to be celebrated every January 6th. The day gives hommage to the three Magi from the biblical legend. The journey of the wise men lasted twelve days (the twelve days of christmas) as they followed the star of Bethlehem to find the Christ child. Today, people across the world make the King's Cake between Christmas and the 6th of January in remembrance of the christian tradition.
     In countries like Mexico, the citizens bake "La Rosca De Reyes;" which is also eaten on Epiphany day. The recipe has its own variations. On February 2nd, the person who found the trinket must take it to the celebration of Candlemas and make preparations for the celebration. Other countries have similar celebrations with the King's Cake as well all over the world.
     Christine described the history of "Le Galette Des Rois" to me as I devoured her King's Cake but I found most of the information online. The King's Cake was unexpectedly delicious when I took my first nibble. Nothing could compare to its flaky pie crust exterior and its fluffy almond flavored interior. It was not I who find the trinket inside my slice of King's Cake but Christine. She almost ate the trinket that resembled a little green alien.
     My time soon ran out after the celebration and I bid my host family farewell. I boarded the bus with my best friends Pauleen and Noël and drove away down the road. For the students entertainment, the teachers played "The Devil Wears Prada" (in french of course) and a movie which recapped the holiday of St. Nickolas at St. Rock. I felt embarrassed when everyone watched the St. Nickolas movie because one of my teachers conducted a spontaneous interview with the exchange students (Ana and myself). For the most part I was understood but I will avoid those unexpected interviews as much as possible.
     The movies ended and the sky shaded our surroundings in darkness. Our first night of the RHETO trip passed on the bus. The chairs in the bus were not modified for a person who desires to sleep so I chose the floor as my bed that night. Unfortunate for me, whenever the bus stopped at a gas station or for a break during the night, the bus driver would leave the door open. Everyone is close proximity to the open door, like me, would be bombarded by the freezing winter air. I survived the night but for the next time I will choose my sleeping quarters on the bus as far away from the door as possible.
     The first day of my RHETO trip started and ended smoothly. The night before my departure I learned some history about the King's Cake with its Christian traditions. I also discovered that sleeping near a bus door is not a good idea. Overall, my classmates and I all got on the bus knowing a great experience lied ahead. We all had one character in common which was our desire to take some time out of our lives to travel on a grand extravaganza.

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