When You Can’t Go Abroad – Go to Epcot Center

When You Can’t Go Abroad – Go to Disney World’s Epcot Center

Some people are just not able to go abroad due to job obligations, financial or health reasons so how do you get to experience the world abroad without leaving the United States? You could visit your local Chinatown, but if you have done that already have you considered a visit to Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida?

The place is cool for many reasons, bit more on the educational side as the park’s main focus is human achievement and innovation and of course, the World Showcase that has that has mini-replicas of 11 different nations.

As someone who grew up in Florida, there were no shortages of school field trips to Disney World and Disney World’s Epcot Center. I suppose my cup runneth over because I think I have been there about a million times. I didn’t travel the world as a kid, I mean not many kids do so I suppose this is normal. To a teenager whose only view of the world was either what photos and stories Uncle Mike shared after returning from a Navy tour or by thumbing through pages of National Geographic magazine, Epcot’s World Showcase was a pretty big deal. I LOVED it.

Don’t get my wrong…everything about Disney is a big deal, but being a nerd, Epcot was my thing and besides, I knew I was destined to see the world.

Epcot Spaceship Earth Walt Disney World | by Anthony Quintano
Epcot Spaceship Earth Walt Disney World | by Anthony Quintano | Flickr

My favorite was the Morocco Pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase  – circa 1987. I went to all the countries, of course, but there was just something very cool about the Morocco one.

Morocco Pavilion at Epcot
Morocco Pavilion at Epcot

The Morocco Pavilion was literally like entering a different world. My friend Michelle (not the same Michelle I travel with today as this was 30+ years ago…) and I made reservations at the Restaurant Marrakesh, which I remember the food being really good, but super spicy. The food and the experience were so different than my anything in my little Florida hometown. There were belly dancers and the waiter didn’t seem to speak much English and hell, the fact that we had to make “reservations” was “fancy” for us.

Marrakesh, Morocco | North Africa
Marrakesh, Morocco | North Africa

In the Morocco Pavilion, I remember men sitting on blankets charming snakes, beautiful, vibrant colors in the Bazaar and just a crazy energy. I swear there was even a young Moroccan boy that ran through the Pavilion. Maybe it was just a figment of my imagination? No…it actually wasn’t. I am pretty sure it happened.

*Interesting fact: According to Wikipedia, this pavilion is the only pavilion in which the country’s government aided in the design and sponsors the pavilion. The other pavillions are sponsored by various corporations.

At that age, I never imagined that one day I would go to North Africa and visit Morocco in “real life”. I always think back to Epcot and sorta crack a smile. Sounds corny, I know. Disney really doesn’t spare any expense when it comes to recreating an experience, even down to the cast members who are hired from their respective country to help contribute to the authentic experience.

Yep!

It’s funny how things come full circle because so far, I have been to 7 of the 11 countries in the Epcot World Showcase. I have to admit, Disney does a pretty dang good job of replicating the countries.
I always tell people, if you can’t travel, at least go to Epcot. You can visit Mexico, France, Norway, Germany, Morocco, Italy, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, China and of course, the United States and get a super authentic experience.

I even asked my friend, Juliet with Wishdrawals – Disney Vacation Planning what she liked most about Disney and she said pretty much echoed my opinion:

“What I love most is how when you visit Disney world you literally enter another world.
There is so much happiness and no worries.
The cast members make every experience a fantastic one because they literally LOVE what they do!”

She’s right. As many times as I have been, I don’t recall any bad experiences as kid going or even as a parent. I will say that it can get super busy around Christmas time and if the Florida heat is not your thing, try planning your visit around September.

And for all the things that Disney has to offer it can get overwhelming, so I would recommend contacting Juliet to help you plan your vacation. She’s an authorized Disney Travel Agent (and addict) and can get you the hook-up on anything related to Disney.

Contact Juliet @ https://www.facebook.com/julietwishdrawals16/

And go see the World!!!

Walt Disney World Resort Entrance - Wikipedia
Walt Disney World Resort Entrance – Wikipedia

May the Bowel be With You

Never drink the water.

This was the first rule that was drilled into my head when I started traveling. Never drink tap water in any country, even if it’s an industrialized or westernized country. Use bottled water when brushing your teeth. Be careful about eating too many raw fruits or vegetables because they too contain water. I’ve been told to not eat ice cubes. International water bad. Bad bad bad.

For the most part, I have followed this advice as stomach issues are the last thing I want to experience on any trip. I always have bottled water handy and I convince myself that the alcohol kills any issues ice cubes may give me in my margaritas. I was proud of my track record of 19 countries visited without incident.

Then I went to Morocco.

Casandra and I were extremely excited about visiting our first African nation. Armed with basic Arabic phrases (although the majority of locals spoke French – do your research prior to the trip!) we bebopped through Fez…Marrakech…the Sahara…on trucks…in motorcades…on camelbacks….and filled our bellies with the nationally renowned tagine dishes. We ate every variation available with any protein source that the locals recommended. It was oh so delicious. And of course, we both were diligent about drinking only bottled water and ensured the water was boiled in our teas. On the fourth night, we checked into this beautiful riad and began settling in for the night.

Casandra: Ummm…Michelle, do you want to go for a walk?

Michelle: Nah, I’m pretty tired.

Casandra: You sure? Why don’t you go outside for just a little bit? Ok fuck it, I have to use the restroom!

Michelle: What?

<silence>

<not so silent>

Michelle: Ohhhhh myyyy goodness. Don’t worry, I’ll turn the music up!

Casandra: What the fuck?! My stomach! Turn the music up louder!

I laughed my ass off! I laughed and I laughed. Even Casandra laughed as her ass was glued to the toilet. Poor Casandra had been hit with a stomach bug….and just as I started to sympathize with her, it hit me. Fuck. So I ran to the lobby bathroom since Casandra was still in ours and let my bowels scream. Now, it was a very quiet riad and the bathroom had one of those saloon kind of doors that don’t go all the way to the floor…oh the agony of trying to be quiet but also not giving a fuck. All I wanted was to get the gut wrenching insanity out of my body at whatever the cost. After what seemed like a solid 30 minutes, I completed my expulsions and walked out to find an employee standing right outside the door. Fantastic. Perhaps he thought my innards were about to explode so was on standby to help? Or perhaps he seized the opportunity to record the gringo losing it in their bathroom and hoped to create a viral moment? I was too exhausted to even feel shamed. The only thing I knew at that time was that it wasn’t over. And I was right.

Over the next few days, both Casandra and I couldn’t keep anything down. But as dedicated foodies, we didn’t stop eating. Oh no, we just ensured there was a bathroom nearby at all times and came up with a system so that we could guard the door and keep passerby’s from earshot distance. Even though Casandra and I had known each other more than 14 years by this time…I never felt closer to her until this trip. This must be how war veterans feel with their fellow soldiers…Casandra and I had waged our own Saving Private Ryan kind of opening war scene and we came out knowing that we could travel through anything after Morocco.

Till this day, we still don’t know what caused it. It had to be something we both ate since we ruled out the water factor. Our best guess was that it was a spice that was used in the tagine dishes or maybe it’s because we ate so many of them so we had spice overload. Our next guess is that it could have been all the mint teas we drank and maybe our system wasn’t used to having so much fresh mint. I never would have guessed that after all this time worrying about water, that something completely different would be the one to get me. But the one thing we will never guess about again is whether or not to bring that anti-diarrheal pack. Take our advice and bring it.