January 24, 2011

Thursday Night Lights

What do you do on a Thursday night?  Watch TV?  Go to bed early?  Well on Saipan, there's the Street Market.  It's a venue in Garapan where the street fronting the Fiesta Resort and Hyatt hotels are closed to through traffic.  Tents are setup on the street where you'll find vendors selling prepared food, produce, and merchandise.  There's usually some form of entertainment as well, where local students or groups dance, sing, or do some kind of performance.

The Street Market is bustling with tourists and locals.  It's the most crowded you'll see a street get on Saipan.  The smell of the BBQ will make your mouth water.  The fresh fruit and produce will tempt your eyes.  The vendors selling Thai, Filipino, and Chinese cuisine will offer 5 choices for $5 dollars.  An excellent deal in my book.  You'll even find Chamorro food and hand made handicrafts.

Every so often, I take my family down to the Street Market to grab dinner.  My kids' favorites are the BBQ sticks and pearl shakes.  We never leave the Street Market without picking up BBQ sticks.  For me, I look for the Chamorro food, especially tamales gisu.

If you're ever on Saipan, get to the Street Market on Thursday night, grab something to eat and just people watch.  It's an I Luv Saipan experience.

To see more pics of the Street Market, click on the image above.

(hu guaiya hao mama)

January 21, 2011

Christmas on Saipan

It has been a while since my last post.  With the Christmas holidays, New Year's, and getting into the 2011 groove, things have been quite busy for me.  Although we're now a few weeks removed from the holiday season, I want to share a little bit of the goings on in Saipan around Christmas-time.

Some say it doesn't feel like Christmas if it's not cold and snowing, but I think cold and snow on Christmas is way overrated.  Sure a few minutes out in the snow is fun -- throwing snowballs and making a snow man -- but, after your hands burn from the snow and the cold air burns in your lungs, you end up wanting to go inside to warm up.  For me, I'd rather be warm and feel the sunshine on my skin while wearing nothing but a t-shirt, shorts, and zoris (flip flops).  I'd choose a warm breezy day at the beach during Christmas break over 30 minutes of playing in the snow.

There are a few Christmas traditions here on Saipan that I've come to enjoy.  The first being The Niño.  The Niño, or baby Jesus, comes to the homes in each parish community on Christmas day.  You'll hear Chamorro Christmas songs being played loudly in the street while a group of kids and adults take The Niño to each home.  If you're Catholic, you welcome The Niño into your home and place him in your Nativity scene or on a nicely decorated table, with candles lit.  Everyone in the home kisses The Niño's feet (it's more of a sniff) and then a prayer is said.  For my family we thank the Lord for the gift of his only son to mankind and we thank Jesus for the blessings he's given throughout the year.  After our prayer, we give The Niño back to the folks outside, along with a donation to the Church and some snacks (usually some pastries and juice).  The Niño comes to your home a few more times after Christmas Day, which usually are on the Sundays (after morning mass) between Christmas and New Year's Day, and then on New Year's Day.

Another Christmas tradition I've come to enjoy on Saipan is the Christmas tree competition held at the Paseo de Marianas.  Different elementary schools across the island decorate a Christmas tree in the Paseo using only recycled items.  The trees are always beautiful and the kids are very creative.  Each tree is judged and the winning schools get cash donations.  It's a great fundraising event for them.  Plus, it's a great way to decorate the Paseo with the little hands of kids from the different communities of Saipan.  Walking down the Paseo looking at each of these decorated trees is a favorite thing for my family to do.

Finally, another Christmas tradition is the lighting of the huge, albeit artificial, tree at the Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe.  This year, the tree also included a large nativity scene, which was nice to see.  In the past, the tree was decorated with large presents and reindeer.  Seeing this large tree lit up at night while driving down Beach Road always brought cheers in my car as my kids point out the pretty lights.

Christmas in Saipan is a wonderful time.  It brings with it some unique traditions.  These traditions are more reasons why I Luv Saipan.

To see more pics, click on image above.

(hu guaiya hao mama)

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