Oh well, how I start writing this essay for the ICDF Newsletter, and explaining how awesome it has been arriving and settling myself in this new city and country. Let’s just state that, I cannot be so grateful of meeting the nicest, calmest, most patient and generous people during my 27 years of life. Since the first moment I arrived into Taiwan, and was welcomed at the Port of Immigration, I was like, what a nice feeling! By the way, not many countries do so.
 
After a month of landing in Taiwan, and of starting classes at National Yang-Ming University   (國立陽明大學), pronounced as Yáng Míng dà xué, and known as NYMU, we were advised about an important holiday during the middle of September. It was the Mid-Autumn Festival or commonly known as the Moon Festival (中秋節), pronounced as Zhōng qiū jié.  According to what I had learned, this festival had started from the Tang Dynasty in Mainland China to worship the beautiful moon. It matches the same time, as when the autumnal equinox of the solar calendar occurs, in which the moon is roundest and fullest. In addition, I was told that traditionally, Chinese and Taiwanese families gather to marvel the precious bright and rounded moon, as well as, to share traditional dishes along with the taste of special cakes, called moon cakes (月餅), pronounced as yuè bĭng. In addition, a vast amount of pomelos (柚子), pronounced as yòu zi, are eaten during the festival and cut/peeled in a special way. 
 
The Moon Festival this year was celebrated on September 22nd; however, for some of us, it started a day before. A great way of having a pre-Moon Festival day! The Counseling Center at NYMU invited international students to experience our first Moon Festival in Taiwan. At this event, we ate many traditional Taiwanese dishes, played games, got to know each other, and enjoyed the famous moon cakes and pomelos. Moon cakes are pastry delicacies that consist of a lightly baked and tender skin that surrounds a sweet and dense filling, which contains a salted yolk egg. Mmmm… very Yummy-delicious! In other words, they are very filling with lots of calories! However, I could not stop eating just only one moon cake. I ate three moon cakes! In addition, we were taught on how to “kill” the pomelo during these festivities. However, it is not as bad as it may sound. It was basically an initial cut with a knife and then having the art of peeling the pomelo very slowly. After removing the skin of the pomelo, we then enjoyed the taste of the crunchy and juicy fruit pulp, and lastly, placed the pomelo skin on top of our heads. I guess it is a tradition for little kids in Taiwan, and I think I may be one of them.
 
On the next day, my dearest Belizean roommate, Mike invited me to a Barbeque (BBQ). To my surprise it was at his Ambassador’s residence. Ambassador, Mr. Efrain Novelo and his wife, Mrs. Isaura Novelo invited us to their residence, along with many other Belizeans to enjoy a warm and welcoming BBQ. BBQ is also an important Taiwanese must-do event during the Moon Festival day. And I also was able to enjoy it! I had awesome arroz con coco (coconut rice), frijóles (salty red beans –not the sweet Taiwanese beans), chuleta de cerdo (pork steak) and the specialty of Belize, shrimp ceviche (shrimp marinated with acid juices, chili, and house flavor). In general, some great Belizean food!
 
To top the day, we also had a Mid-Autumn Festival celebration at our dorm; prepared by our wonderful dorm managers, Erica and Ariel. We sang karaoke and danced before the residents started to complain (Oops!), and they bought food for us, as well as, moon cakes. I guess it was my fourth one in just two days! We had seaweed, pork blood with rice, many tofu varieties and fish balls and meatballs. So many types of food in just two days! However, I enjoyed it so much… it just encouraged me to go to the gym for the rest of the month. J
I just can say that this year’s Moon Festival festivities were tremendously memorable, especially with the company, the new culture and tradition learned, and the food. I am looking forward for next year’s Mid-Autumn Festival.

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