Thursday, February 23, 2006

Walk like an Egyptian???

This is one comes two weeks late...I should have posted it from Egypt, but things were going by so fast and Hilary, Jackie, and my self refused to let anything like posting up blogs interupt our time.

Now I'm a couple of time zones and a few thousand miles away from Cairo in Mok'po, Korea. This is the beautiful port city that Jackie has been reporting live from. We're having a wicked cool time with mom...doing all sorts of crazy Korean thing (like stripping naked in a Korean bath house...but more on that in another post). In this post we talk about Cairo.

Cairo was a crazy trip for me. Nothing what I expected a city in the Middle East to be. That being said...we have to consider that Egypt is not like most Middle Easter countries in a lot of ways. For one, it's has been considerably influenced by the "west," with a history of British occupation and then a more recent history of American capitialism. For this reason, Egypt (and even more so Cairo) was warm and welcoming to three Americans. This may come as a supprise, given the recent policy our President has taken on people who pray to Allah, however, as the three of us came to understand....Allah has no beef with America. Even more intersting was the way Egyptians welcomed me as a long lost brother...or maybe a distant cousine. Everywhere we went people were confused at the fact that I couldn't speak Arabic and even more confused that I wasn't Arab, but Puerto Rican. That didn't stop them from treating me as one of them, in fact, I think in a lot of situations it put the three of us at favor with the locals.

It was a drastic change coming from Ghana, a country where if you are not black then you're white. No in between. The term Puerto Rican meant nothing to them. They saw me as a rich, white, American...something that was extreemly frustrationg for me...and often got in the way of relationships. It wasn't what I expected at all. In my head, I thought that once I explained the history of my people....or rather Puerto Ricans, a history that connected me and my ancestors to the very same land that is now Ghana and Nigeria....the Ghanians would welcome me as a brother. Well...much to my supprise my history meant nothing to Ghanians...and the fair color of my skin (fair here is a relative term) meant much more as a social marker. It was a total mind trip...especially because for the last 22 years I've been raised in a country where the color of my skin often has the reverse effect.

The short of it is that it was amazing to come to Cairo and be accepted as one of them...even though I have no acctual links to the country, religion, or people (although I do have a suspicion that maybe I...some where...way way back...I may be connected). In fact, for a few hours I almost did feel Egyptian. Hilary, Jackie, and I watched Egypt and Corte D'Ivorie play for the Africa Cup of Nations with our pyramid tour guides. In those last few moments of the Egypt and Corte D'Ivoire took the match to the very end in a shoot out I felt as if Egypt was my team. And when Egypt was my team that won.

I have to admit here that even though I am much more progressive and left of center than most Americans, the propoganda that we've been fed had made me a little apprehensive about my trip to Cairo. Now I realize that Cairo (and probably most Arab countries) is just like any place. With people who are and welcoming, cool cafes, and great food. The most common theme of my travels has been this: The more places I see, the more I realize how much we are all the same. It's nice to know that no matter where I go next, people will be people.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Adam and Eve

is the name of the hooked up, mod-cozy motel the three of us --Kristofer, Gloria (Kristofer's mom) and I are staying at tonight. Fine China tea set sitting in a uv sterilizer; his and hers terry-cloth robes; computer with high speed internet connected to the flat pannel tv (so we can watch our Bollywood DVDs on the tv via the computer); complimentary shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, shaving cream the works-- all for 40 bucks. Why people haven't caught on and started touring Korea is beyond us. Our first full day and we're having fun. The local Lotte Mart (as Kristofer called it, Wal-Mart on steroids, or rather, Martha Stewart's ideal Wal-Mart) is even a tourist spot for someone who has never travelled to Asia: pink, pretty, practical, and visually assaulting. After seeing a neat, plastic doo-dad that protects and suctions cups your razor to the mirror, Kristofer commented, "They think of everything!" Then as we moved from the groceries to car care, on the way passing one of those sushi conveyor belts, is when all of Kristofer felt all his senses being assaulted. For Gloria and me, it's just a shopper's heaven. The trip was also complete with plenty of double-takes from the locals trying to figure out the random Korean and Boricuas in Mokpo.

It's 12:26 am and we're wide awake from sleeping on the 4 hour bus ride from Seoul to Mokpo. So our agenda tonight: Bollywood hit, Devdas, which is complete with love, tears, and dancing. Tomorrow we hope to do the ocean board-walk via bicycles, Yudal mountain, and mandoo. We'll try to catch you up on how the rest of the was, too.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Ghana Chillin' Photo Series

So here are a few images from Ghana. I've been trying to inspire my fellow blog mates to get into it...but it seems they all suck. Well, I'm going to have to do four times as much work I guess. I hope you all enjoy these images. Just a small collection of my goings on here in Accra. No real explination for these. Just check them and enjoy them.