Americans, Mexicans celebrate ‘El Grito’

September 16 is a very important holiday for Mexican citizens and people with Mexican roots. Mexico Independence Day celebrations are held on what’s known as “El Grito,” which translates to “The Scream.” This year was the 203rd anniversary of the holiday, and people all over the world celebrated. It was most likely the topic of discussion for individuals using calling cards to Mexico.
In San Jose
Celebrations were happening all over Mexico, but many of the festivities happened in California, where there is a large population of Mexican-American citizens. According to the San Jose Mercury News, San Jose was alive with various holiday activities. The primary spot of the festivities was at Discovery Meadow, which is located near the Children’s Discovery Museum.

The weather was ideal, which may be in part what inspired the large turnout. But many people likely also came to enjoy the music – there were both classic and contemporary Mexican musicians showing off their skills. In addition to the tunes, celebrants could enjoy food, dance presentations, games and a market where Mexican items were sold.

LA Celebrations
In Los Angeles, people gathered at City Hall for the city’s celebration of “El Grito,” according to local news station KTLA.

“I, like the other 1.2 million Mexican and Mexican-American Angelenos, am very proud of my heritage, and it brings me great pride to be this year’s sponsor for ‘El Grito’ festivities,’” said LA Councilman Felipe Fuentes, according to the news source.

The newly elected member of LA’s local government also participated in the ringing of the “rebellion bell,” which is a part of “El Grito” tradition.

Coachella Honors “El Grito”
Coachella, California, also held a major celebration, reports The number of visitors climbed into the thousands, all gathered under two large canopies to help keep them cool on the hot September day. This year, the festival was moved to a larger venue, Ranchos Las Flores Park, because so many were expected to take part. The reason for the increase in the number of celebrants was in part due to the booming Mexican-American population in the region.

Live music, food, games and free prizes were all part of the Coachella celebrations. Some of the cuisine for sale included Elote, a Mexican corn treat, and delicious shaved ice.

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Combating homesickness while you’re living overseas

Whether you’re living overseas for work or taking a long vacation, you’re bound to experience some homesickness. It can be painful and put a damper on your time abroad, but there are ways to combat this issue. Here are a few quick tips to help you through the difficult moments:
Packing some mementos
If you are going to be gone for a while, it’s a good idea to bring a few sentimental mementos from home to remind you of friends and family. One good idea is to ask each of your loved ones to take a silly photo of themselves, which you can then post on your walls or place into an album. You can also bring a beloved stuffed animal, a book given to you by a friend, or a few articles of clothing borrowed from your significant other. Having these items around will help remind you of your connection to home.

Keeping in touch
By far the best way to combat loneliness when traveling is to keep in touch with friends and family. There are many ways to do this, from email to Facebook. However, sometimes written exchanges don’t feel quite intimate enough, which is why you should equip yourself with a few international calling cards. Simply hearing a loved one’s voice can make you feel much more connected.

A reminder of home
Sometimes, it’s not the people you miss but the place. Living in a foreign country can be difficult, because it’s likely some of the customs you were used to at home simply no longer exist. One way to cope with this is to meet other people in your community who come from a similar place. Look for groups of ex-patriots from you country of origin, or post an ad on websites like Craigslist to find others in your same situation.

Your living space
While you may not be able to change the culture of where you’re living, you do have some control over your own space. If you’re staying in an apartment, for example, you can rearrange the furniture so it is similar to what you had at home. You can also cook your favorite foods when you miss them and hang up posters and photographs that remind you of where you came from.

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5 ways to avoid getting sick while traveling

Nothing puts a damper on a vacation like falling ill. It’s not uncommon for people to pick up colds while they’re abroad – after all, you’re likely exposed to various types of germs that may not be part of your everyday environment. Fortunately, there are a few actions you can take to prevent yourself from catching a cold while you’re traveling. Here are some tips:
Get plenty of sleep
When you are lacking sleep, your immune system is weak, making it much easier for you to contract an illness. That’s why you have to make sure you get plenty of shut-eye the night before you leave, once you arrive at your destination, and if possible, while you’re in transit. Bring an eye mask and neck pillow on long train trips. If it’s really hard for you to sleep while you’re traveling, consider purchasing an over-the-counter sleep aid.

More washing 
You probably wash your hands a few times a day after eating or using the rest room, but when you’re traveling, you need to bump this habit into high gear. Because you’ll be in public places, you’re going to be exposed to germs a lot more than you normally would. That’s why it’s a good idea to wash your hands more frequently. Having some hand sanitizer in your bag makes it much easier to keep bad bacteria at bay.

Sound of mind
Many illnesses are stress-related, so it’s important that you do your best to minimize anxiety while traveling. This may mean practicing breathing exercises, listening to calming music or using a calling card to keep in touch with a loved one back home who may be able to help you relax. During layovers, you may want to find an open space that would allow you to do a few simple exercises, like jumping jacks or pushups, as working out can also help reduce stress.

Eat well
Your body needs lots of healthy nutrients to ward off illness, so do your best to eat well while you’re traveling. This is easier said than done, seeing that many airports only offer unhealthy dining options. Bringing your own snacks is one way around this issue. Pack a few healthy items, like fresh fruit or vegetables, in your carry-on luggage and you’ll be good to go.

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Travel tips for parents of youth athletes

If you’re the mother or father of a child who seriously plays competitive sports, you’re undoubtedly proud of their accomplishments. For example, if his or her team does well in the season and gets to travel to be a part of a high-stakes important tournament, you’re bound to be ecstatic for them, even if you’re also simply happy that they’re enjoying the game.

In any case, traveling to support your kid’s sporting endeavors can be an incredibly fun experience. It can also be more than a little bit stressful if you aren’t prepared for what it will entail. In addition to remembering to pack the right clothes and accessories like prepaid phone cards, you’ll want to keep several tips in mind as you get ready to embark on this kind of trip.

Pack for comfort
You, your child, his or her teammates and their respective parents are going to be running around like crazy people throughout the duration of the trip. As such, you don’t want to be packing your nicer clothes – bring apparel that you’re comfortable driving in and wearing in the hotel and at sporting facilities.

Bond with fellow parents
If you don’t already know the parents of your kid’s teammates, you should correct that. You’re going to be in fairly close quarters with them for the next few days, so taking the opportunity to socialize with your fellow adults is a great way to let off any stress that might come about during the trip.

Kids need to eat right
While nutrition is always important for your youngsters, it’s especially vital leading up to a game. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recommends a solid, healthy breakfast – items such as poached eggs, fruit, bacon, whole grain bread and milk are ideal.

Keep it in perspective
The phrase “winning isn’t everything” is a cliché, but it’s entirely true. You certainly can’t think otherwise, or let your son or daughter fall prey to despondency if they lose. Be a force of encouragement and enthusiasm, before, during and after a game, no matter the outcome.

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Travel prep for seniors

For many of today’s senior citizens, reaching their 60s and 70s – and even beyond – doesn’t make for any impediment to enjoying a full, active life. So, in the waning days of summer, it’s an ideal time to start planning a quick vacation. Because the season is winding down, the final days of summer just before fall starts often mean that hotels and flights are in less demand and may well be quite a bit cheaper.

However, there are still certain things that senior travelers need to take into account before heading off on their latest getaway – which other travelers won’t necessarily have to deal with. But no matter – cover these bases and you’re all but guaranteed to have a great time kicking back somewhere.

Examine lodging options in advance
Health and comfort are things that everyone has to address in some way or another – they’re just more pressing issues for seniors. This means looking up lodging options in advance – about a month ahead of your planned departure – and checking that they have any accommodations you require due to disability or other concerns.

Air travel considerations
If you need to fly to your vacation hotspot, The New York Times recommends making as many requests as possible of your airline. Additional legroom, a sped-up boarding process and better seats are some of the benefits you may be able to take advantage of. Additionally, if you need help once you arrive at the airport, certain carriers such as Delta offer assistance with the check-in and security processes with at least 48 hours notice.

Pack and prepare necessities and accessories
If you take any regular medications, keep a spare copy of your prescription in case something happens to your supply. Keep pills in their original labeled bottle as well.

Finally, to prepare for the possibility of losing your cell phone, be sure to keep a prepaid phone card on hand in case you have to make emergency long-distance calls.

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Enjoy traveling with your teenagers

As a parent of a child who’s caught in that difficult, confusing period known as adolescence, you know that certain essential parental responsibilities just aren’t going to be a walk in the park. It’s totally understandable, but it can still be frustrating. This means that going on vacation can be an ordeal – if you let it turn into one- but that doesn’t have to happen.

Avoid journey-related stress
During the car – or plane-ride itself, it can be tempting to try and court their attention. But if they want to listen to music or play games on their phones or tablets, why not let them, as long as they use headphones? You’ll get nowhere trying to impose. They’ll probably be more receptive later if you cut them some slack on this.

Don’t be overbearing
Within reason, you need to let your teens have some time to themselves. If you trust them at all and are vacationing in a safe spot, there’s no harm in leaving them alone to chill at the hotel for a few hours in the morning, or letting them go to the beach on their own for a bit. Also, pack a prepaid phone card, so they can make affordable calls to friends if they want to.

Be reasonable about expenses
You have to compromise on this one. Don’t be stingy, but ideally if they’re old enough they’ve earned some money of their own in a summer job or as an allowance. Strike a balance between money you offer them and money you expect them to have.


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Preparing for the best and worst as a modern traveler

Vacations are, of course, perfect opportunities for you to forget about the troubles and stressors around you, both in your personal life and in the world at large. However, you can’t always afford to put your toes – and head – in the sand and ignore certain considerations when you travel, whether it’s for business or pleasure.

This doesn’t mean that you should be worried the whole time, or be convinced that something will go wrong during your vacation. Yet, as the Huffington Post points out, circumstances like political turmoil and urban unrest can happen anywhere at any time. So you need to strike a balance in your travel preparations and habits. Bring everything that you need to have fun, but don’t forget to cover all essential planning bases and bring items such as international calling cards and other useful accessories.

Avoiding the obvious
The source states that places where unrest is actively occurring should be – and probably already are – taken out of your considerations, as should places that are at all dangerous on any regular basis. It would be wise for you to use the U.S. Department of State website’s international travel section. It features detailed information on the safety issues of all nations in the world. Everything from concerns regarding crime and political instability to details on natural hazards is included.

Consider enrolling in STEP
The State Department also offers a valuable resource in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This free service provides those who sign up for it with regular, automated updates about the countries they are visiting. Not only do you receive this information throughout your whole trip, but you are also on the database of the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country you’re visiting. According to State Department statistics, the agency helped 15,000 American citizens who were caught amid the political turmoil in Lebanon during 2006, and evacuated 16,700 people after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Bring accessories and just-in-case money
It’ll be wise for you to pack a prepaid phone card, so you can make emergency calls if you have to, whether your phone is equipped for international use or not – or if you somehow lose your mobile device.

The Huffington Post also recommends having backup forms of identification in addition to your passport. Finally, pack at least $100 in cash in small denominations that can be exchanged for foreign currency in a pinch.


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