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Dear friends,

If there is one thing I have learned from my years of traveling it is that flexibility is key.  The past couple of weeks have been filled with a spectrum of emotions. From frustration, to anger, to surprise, to excitement…all have been reached at some point in the past 14 days.  Why all the drama? Well I wanted to get one more trip to Africa before I went back to the states for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the countries I was trying to visit are difficult ones to travel to because transportation is difficult and security is an issue. These are not your usual tourist hubs. My original plan included a month long trip to Cameroon, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic (CAR). It takes a lot of time and coordination when planning a trip to countries like these. Due to factors out on my control I wasn’t able to arrange the trip in time. I had a couple of other ideas on the table, but at the end of the day nothing was solidified or booked. I am not a fan of wasting time so I decided to utilize the four weeks I had left before going home and take a Swahili course. I honestly believe language is the key to the world and the only way to truly experience culture and truly learn about a country and its people is to speak (or at least try to speak) the language. My next big trip is going to take place in Jan/Feb and I am going to travel through Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. Swahili is spoken in two out of these three countries and I feel having some Swahili under my belt will greatly enhance my experience.

So, as of right now, instead of Africa, I am nestled in the beautiful mountains of Garmisch, Germany- the land of hiking and skiing heaven. As luck would have it I am the only person in my class and I have two amazing professors from Tanzania. I am loving every moment and finding the language beautiful. I can’t wait to whip out a Sijambo! as I travel through eastern Africa.

Now that we all know where in the world Maia is, let’s talk about the Cannstader

Lovely friends Claudia, Me, and Carolin

Volksfest. Ask any person what the most popular event in Germany is and I guarantee you the majority will reply: Oktoberfest! Yes, it is the land of copious amounts of beer, cleavage, and merriment. Who wouldn’t want to partake? I also wouldn’t allow myself to live in Germany and not attend this legendary event. Plus it just gave me a good excuse to buy a new dress! However, the more I inquired about details, the more people told me that Oktoberfest in Munich has become too touristy and not authentic. I didn’t know it at the time, but Stuttgart holds an equally exciting beerfest called the Cannstader Volksfest. It is held at the same time as Oktoberfest and apparently is the fest-of-choice for all Germans. Luckily I returned form Africa in time to join my dirndl and lederhosen clad friends to attend this massive party.

The tent: click to enlarge

It was a night of prosting (‘prost’ being the German word for cheers!), dancing on tables, singing, and overall debaucherous behavior. You can either reserve tables in a multitude of beer tents or walk around the huge fair ground drinking and riding a plethora of typical carni rides. Beer tent tickets cost 30 Euros and include a delicious chicken dinner and massive beer. Luckily my very cool German friends had reserved a table in one of the huge tents. As I entered the tent I was immediately hit with a wall of heat emanating from over 500 hundred undulating merry souls. The atmosphere was almost stifling- but the pure joyous exaltations swept you up into a rapid current of merriment that flowed throughout the tent. Beer was flowing like the Nile from every corner and up front there was a band leading the sing-alongs. The atmosphere was literally infectious and you couldn’t help but want to partake. Every single body was clad in either lederhosen or cleavage enhancing dirndls. Men were, of course, in heaven and women were feeling more and more attractive with every pint of beer consumed.

The Crew

For countless hours I belted out German drinking songs and prosted alongside 500 of what, at the end of the night, became my closet friends and family. I learned that if there it is one thing the Germans can do, its drink. I returned home that night exhausted, sweaty, slightly tipsy, and very happy.  Add this to your bucket list and I promise you it will be one of the best parties you have ever attended.

Pure Merriment

Thanks again for reading about my adventures. All of your support is soo very much appreciated. Up next, adventures from Barcelona!

Till then, travel well and travel often!