The US State Department posts warnings about which destinations are not exactly welcoming to American travelers. Most people listen to them, and steer clear, while a few go with their gut and continue to explore. There blogs are highlighted here, enjoy.
I can only assume that is smoke from a rocket propelled grenade...
Overhead, a gray-chested crow laughs as an iguana scurries away from a flock of smaller birds, and on a bench, sits a lone soldier contemplating, what, I will never know. Around the corner, greeted by another hot dry wind, two Afghans kneel in prayer toward the Mecca.
For a moment I pause, back against a concrete barrier, marveling in awe, wordless to what is now my reality – still in a state of reverence for the concept of acclimation.
However, only minutes later, in my briefly strained vertical posture of enlightened peace, everything quickly fades. Suddenly it no longer matters who you are – what rank, religion, or race. When the overcasted shrilling sound of a rocket-propelled grenade approaches, vulnerability doesn’t play favorites. There is nowhere to hide, but someplace within – gravitating over barren fields of nameless harvest, and windswept notions of another day.
Sombering as it may seem, it’s an incredible contrary to all reason place where my soul travels to when surrendering fate is magnified. That ominously-encroaching whoosh serves as a prescription, an instant remedy for ideas of complacency and immortality. While I certainly don’t welcome it, I am not afraid of death. All that I fear is leaving without those that I love, ever knowing who I really was. – Excope
The street below hardiek's hotel becomes amusing after chewing qat
There is one thing that might be interesting in Hargeisa however- when in doubt, space out. I go for the qat, a fistful of it for a buck. If nothing else it might at least invoke saliva in my now perpetually parched mouth.
So I start chewing… and chewing… and chewing… Eventually I ‘get it’, the spirit of the qat that is, though I doubt it’s worth all the effort. Also I can’t get past the feeling that I’m eating my mother’s shrubs and soon she’ll catch me, and then punish my buttock region for what was the cerebral region’s conspiracy. But it moves me past a psychological roadblock, and the street market that goes on more or less throughout the night below me somehow becomes amusing. – Hardiek
Hudini watching the sunrise on the base in Iraq
So kids, how can you travel the world and see absolutely nothing at the same time? Easy: Join the United States Marine Corps! We can give you that sense of adventure, minus that whole adventure part!
I honestly have not seen a single thing this whole deployment, other than Americans and the occasional third county national skipping around. I’m planning some good stuff to come though… can’t wait! – Hudini
Travelbug15 in her former workplace (an army base in Israel)
We walked and I recognize the wall with the barbed wire on top, I see the turn to the entrance and hope I can go in. We make the turn and there’s no one there. I can freely walk in although there are signs everywhere saying that trespassing is not allowed. Meh, whatever.
The whole base looks like it was trashed. Of course it wasn’t, it’s just that they had to remove absolutely everything and burn any papers or what not.
It was like walking into a movie. My heart was beating so fast. – Travelbug15
Marco enjoying the nice part of Haiti...
Things here indeed are in a very bad condition, really bad. And I thought I had seen poverty before! Here it is everywhere, and coupled with a good quantity of misery (analphabetism, gangs, criminality, unemployment rate at 70%, teenage pregnancies, severe malnutrition, lack of medical care, divided country forces, blablabla… People even die of tetanus here, because they won’t even have access to the vaccine!) Being close to all this will certainly be of a challenge also in the year to come. One first impression, shared with our “future friend” Bill Clinton, is that local people are not united together for their cause. “together stronger”, that we see on their national flag (“L’union fait la force”), only seems to be a wishful thinking… – Marco
Sabenafrica lounging in Nigeria with a new friend
The only problem with the Elephant bar was that it was basically a place for the local prostitutes to hang out, and as a man you were hassled every time you went there with offers of sex, demands for contact details etc. I was always polite to them, but it did not matter what you said they were very very persistent. If you said “I have a wife” they would say either “but you can spend some time with me before you go back to her” or “that’s Ok, she can come with us”. Anyway, bit of an eye opener there. – Sabenafrica
Vartan420 attended a wedding he wasn't invited to in Yemen
After finishing the meal we decided to go back to the college but then crossed the wedding again. There was a circle of men dancing with their Jambias, waving them above their heads and back down. Off to the side a circle of boys between the ages of 8 and 12 were imitating the dancing men, they performed stunningly well. The walk back to the school’s housing ended a fun evening, but of course we were reminded of life’s realities when we saw a woman sleeping on the ground with two children not past the age of 8 under blankets. How fortunate we are. – Vartan420
Chan_hc saw this house amongst the presidential palaces
Tbilisi is a run-or-the-mill Eastern Block capital; it has its fare share of old town, churches, monuments, squares and castle-on-the-hilltop, but none of them outstanding. Two of them, the new cathedral and the new presidential palace, draw my attention just because they are fleshy buildings located in one of the oldest part of town full of decaying houses housing (seemingly) poor families. I just wondered what the thought of these families was when millions were poured to build these two buildings. – Chan_hc
Bamako, Mali from above by Astrophelle
In the end, one word sums up my experience in Mali – Endurance. Endurance of the heat, the noise, the dirt and the grime. Endurance of the women, who are the engines of the economy, carrying babies on their back while they work in the hot sun everyday. Endurance of social workers and ngos that fight bureaucracy and corruption. Endurance of the business men that deal with incompetence and red tape. Endurance of the common people as they live a hard life where even the simplest of things are difficult to accomplish. Endurance of the machines, of mud houses, of creatures, of farmers who survive the harsh sahelian climate. Endurance thrives in Mali. It simply has to. – Astrophelle
Lbackstrom standing in a cave in Colombia
We went caving on Saturday with a local kid that was reluctant to leave his girlfriend to guide us into the cave (this was surprising, since he appeared barely old enough to have hit puberty). There was a lot of slipping and sliding , crawling, and a limbo move where only the nostrils were above water. – Lbackstrom
11. The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Mike_bright's gorilla guide told him about the war in the Congo
He told me how the fighting in Congo with Rwanda and Uganda had started in Bunagana. He said when he was younger it had been night and they heard a bunch of machine guns firing. Being a small town they didn’t know what it was so went outside to see what was happening. Because it was dark the soldiers couldn’t tell the civilians from the military so they were firing on everyone that moved. Their doorman got shot and killed but the entire thing lasted only a few hours before they retreated. What was strange was that he told the story with a big smile while laughing like it was funny. For them death is just a part of life. – Mike_bright
Nomadic1 in a mosque in Lahore, Pakistan
OK, maybe I am crazy. With the Iran plan crushed I needed someplace else to go. I opted for Pakistan. Not really the safest place to be these days, but in the two and a half days spent there I had no problems whatsoever and was very pleased with my brief visit of the troubled nation. That said, I did only spend time in Lahore near the border with India. I wasn’t quite crazy enough to go touring around the country. Or maybe I’m just getting older. – Nomadic1
A street scene from Burundi
I spoke once to two ladies about Burundi, its war, and future. They told me that although you don’t hear about it from the country’s self-censored press, they reckon that at least a hundred people die each day in the country from rebel killings. They are hopeful, however, for the future of the country. The fighting of the past few years has lost its focus as being a conflict of a tribal, or political nature, but instead it has become about people trying to get money, and power. Deplorable as this is, it seems to offer hope that people are tired of the old Hutu-Tutsi problems, and want to make peace.
I asked the women about what they thought of the UN’s presence in their country. Both said that they strongly dislike the UN, and that it is a commonly held sentiment in the country. Although there were many UN military forces present all over the country during the last few years of the war, they only observed, and talked, and never intervened to stop the massacres that were taking place on almost a daily basis. They also resent the amount of money the UN seems to have, with their luxurious cars and houses, and they say that the cost of living in Bujumbura has risen dramatically since their arrival. In short, they said that their presence here has amounted to a whole load of nothing. The more I see and hear about the UN’s presence in Africa the more I grow to dislike this group of organizations. – Reef
14. Saudi Arabia
The tent city at Mina, Saudi Arabia
On the way back we passed through Mina and Muzdalifah, which if you’re familiar with the annual Hajj rites, is where the large tent city is that the Hajjis stay in. Looking at the tent city, it is easy to see how perilous it could be if people try to have open fires, and while regretting the tent city fire a few years ago, one can only wonder that there haven’t been more accidents. The scope of the public services necessary for accommodate the millions who come for Hajj each year is staggering. – Filfilfilfilksq
Married woman with gold teeth in Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Once the girls are married off in their early twenties they really only have lives focussed on children to look forward to. They are compensated with a full set of gold front teeth. So, if you find a girl smiling at you without gold teeth then she is usually single. The gold teeth are theirs to keep if the man decides to wander off and find a new girlfriend. An unusual style of keeping your husband in line, as the cost of the second set of teeth for the new girl is prohibitive. – Mikeandfi