Transitions Abroad has just announced the winners in its annual travel writing contest. Alexander Breimann takes home a $500 check for Education from the Streets of Giza, Egypt. While studying in Cairo, he shunned the culturally isolated student housing and opted to live with a family in Giza instead, the ramshackle part of town that backs right up to the great pyramids.
The theme of this year’s contest was “the intrinsic educational aspects of meaningful travel,” so all the winning stories relate to living somewhere off the tourist grid: a remote part of northern Norway and Guatemala City, for example, in the two stories that tied for second.
The World’s Cheapest Destinations make frequent showings among the other winners as well. “Take Me to America” is set in Nepal, “An Authentic Hill Tribe Experience” is about northern Thailand, and “Finding Roots in a Foreign Land takes place in rural India. Others are in Morocco, Tana Toraja (Sulawesi, Indonesia), and El Salvador.
El Salvador didn’t warrant a mention in The World’s Cheapest Destinations since so few travelers–even backpackers–spend much time there. I did do a lot of research on it for my upcoming March book though – Traveler’s Tool Kit: Mexico and Central America. While the country is still not at the top of my to-do list, I would like to make it down there one of these days. From one of the writing contest essays I learned that those Salvadorans are some of the happiest people in the world. Who knew?