October 14, 2008

Wanted: Tour Guide for Historical and Contemporary Black Paris.

A well-established black owned and run tour company is seeking a guide to conduct walking and bus tours that focus on historical and contemporary Black Paris. The series of tours was created in 1994 by a former student of the late Sorbonne Professor Michel Fabre, author of From Harlem To Paris: Black American Writers in France 1840-1960.

The tour guide is expected to have prior knowledge of some aspect of the historical and contemporary African-American, African, and/or Caribbean presence in Paris. More than just reciting facts, the guide will engage the minds and enthusiasm of tour participants with insightful analysis of the social and political climate that conditioned the experiences of Black writers, artists, intellectuals, musicians, and entertainers. Full training and materials will be provided.

The ideal guide has experience in public speaking or working directly with the public, communicates with warmth and in a professional manner, and possesses strong storytelling skills. As the tours can be scheduled at short notice, a certain availability is required, although we do try and book well in advance and we will work with your schedule. Most tours take place in the morning and can be scheduled any day of the week, summers and holidays included.

A student of Black Studies/African Diaspora in France or related studies will gain from this guiding/research position through the continual updating of their knowledge base as well as having the opportunity to discuss many aspects of the Black Paris experience with various audiences - from department chairs and subject experts to students, business people, general interest tourists, young people and children.

Interested candidates are invited to respond with a letter and resume to Julia Browne at : walkthespirit@netscape.net Please visit our tour website (http://www.walkingthespirit.com/) for further information on our company.
Thank you,

Julia BrowneFounder & CEO,Walking The Spirit Tours
Web: http://www.walkingthespirit.com/

July 23, 2008

Dispatch: On a traditional junk

Black Travels community member, Claire Garcia is currently traveling through China and Vietnam, and has been sending us dispatches along the way.

Our boat was a traditional 19th century junk, a replica of a pirate ship cleverly designed to look like a small commercial boat. I will send a photo in a separate e-mail. It had three feather-shaped sails and was made completely of wood~ even the sail mechanisms. There were 8 passengers (two couples of the Hong Kong variety of gilded youth, and a loud and enthusiastic Australian couple, in addition to Mateo and me), our guide and translator, and a crew of about half a dozen, in gold-braided brown uniforms and bare feet.

Ha Long Bay gets its name from a legend that a magic dragon spewed up a belly of jewels (the thousands of abrupt, weirdly shaped islands in the bay) to stop the ever-land-grabbing Chinese from making another assault on Vietnamese territory. As of a few years ago, it is now illegal to go on to most of these islands, as they are environmentally protected. But even in COnrad's time, landing on most of them would have been impossible, as they are sheer mountains and cliffs rising up directly from the sea. The sea itself is so placid that our guide says that it is referred to as "the world's largest swimming pool."

Here, from the opening of The Secret Sharer, are some of Conrad's words, which are more beautiful than my own. The young captain is leaning over his taffrail, waiting to embark on his first command:

"To the left a group of barren islets, suggesting ruins of stone walls, towers, and blockhouses, had its foundations set in a blue sea that itself looked solid, so still and stable did it lie below my feet; even the track of light from the westering, sun shone smoothly, without that animated glitter which tells of an imperceptible ripple."

"On my right hand there were lines of fishing stakes resembling a mysterious system of half-submerged bamboo fences, incomprehensible in its division of the domain of tropical fishes, and crazy of aspect as if abandoned for ever by some nomad tribe of fishermen now gone to the other end of the ocean; for there was no sign of human habitation as far as the eye could reach. And when I turned my head to take a parting glance at the tug which had just left us anchored outside the bar, I saw the straight line of the flat shore joined to the stable sea, edge to edge, with a perfect and unmarked closeness, in one leveled floor half brown, half blue under the enormous dome of the sky."

However, we at the dawn of the following century, on our replica tourist ship, put up for the night in a cove where a water village of houseboaters live as they have done for generations, fishing and not going to school. Their voices and music came to us across the dark water as we sat on the deck in the evening, and finally the captain moved our ship a little farther off, as there was a very agitated baby who was ruining the atmosphere for the westerners.

Most of our hours on the first day were spent eating wonderful fresh seafood dishes and swimming off of the side of the boat. The young men went off in sea kayaks (and of course, as young men do, went farther than they intended, so a search party was sent out just before dusk. As the sun slipped below the horizon and the beautiful golden 3/4 moon became more prominent, I tried to quell my anxiety about three young men with no map, no guide, in a sea of a thousand unlandable islands. I later told Mateo, who has also read the Secret Sharer, that I thought he, as the Sharer does at the end of the novel, had disappeared toward one of the many "towering black mass[es] like the very gateway of Erebus" -- and become "a free man, a proud swimmer striking out for a new destiny" in the South China Sea. But they did all return safe and sound. While Mateo and Hong Kong princes kayaked, I went with the guide for a closer look at the water villages.

The next day, we heaved ho (is that the past tense of this expression) and sailed to one of the many spectacular caves that have formed around the bay. And, after more hours of fresh fruit (I kept trying to identify breadfruit, which figures large in the nautical tales of the South Pacific that I read, but that I have never seen or tasted) and fresh fish and swimming, we returned to port, and the harrowing ride back to Ha Noi.

Dispatch: On the Way to Ha Long Bay

Black Travels community member, Claire Garcia is currently traveling through China and Vietnam, and has been sending us dispatches along the way.

My children have often told me that things that I see always remind me of books. Well, Ha Long Bay reminded me of my second-favorite novel in the world, Joseph Conrad's The Secret Sharer.

As I leaned on the rail of our classic junk (such a precise replica of the traditional boat that all the various mechanisms that would now be made out of iron or steel were wood), gazing out over the placid seascape of still water and jutting islands, lines of Conrad's kept coming back to me during our 2 days and a night at sea.

For Conrad, this northern part of the South China sea was part of the Gulf of Siam; to the French colonists and later the American military forces, it was the Gulf of Tonkin. Now, to the recently (in their long history) unified nation of Viet Nam, it is Ha Long "Descending Dragon") Bay.

To get to Ha Long, one must go 3 hours north of Ha Noi along a very exciting highway. I now know that my husband's opinion that three vehicles going in two directions can pass each other if no one loses their head is true~ and add a multitude of scooters and bicycles, water buffalo and chickens and goats and you can imagine that it was better not to look out of the front window of
the mini van.

There is an average of 3 motor scooters per household in Vietnam. Most people do not have cars. Among the more startling things I have seen on the backs of motor scooters:
  • a brand new washing machine;
  • a cow;
  • four porcelain vases, each about 5 feet tall;
Of course, it is routine to see families, including infants, who would have taken up a whole minivan on one scooter, and mountains of various produce.

We also passed several Vietnamese houses, most of which were extremely narrow (one room wide), three or four stories high, with wide verandahs on each story, with elaborate pagoda style roofs. They are usually colored in "bright pastels"-- a term I would have considered an oxymoron before seeing the yellows, blues, pinks, and greens of the houses in the towns along the highway.

Dispatch: Ha Noi

Black Travels community member, Claire Garcia is currently traveling through China and Vietnam, and has been sending us dispatches along the way.

The hotel was in the Old City, but don't think that that moniker connotes some carefully tended quaintness and charm aimed at tourists. The Old City, like all the rest of Ha Noi that we have seen, feels like an old village~ uneven and cracked cobblestones, very narrow and tall buildings with shops and workshops (motor scooter repair, locksmiths, hodgepodges of plasticware, some stores selling "designer" clothing-- made in Vietnam-- such as the $3 Gucci swimtrunks we bought for Mateo), and the sidewalks teeming with life and work, most of it performed by people squatting.

There are many sidewalk restaurants~ squatting women cooking wonderful smelling food in woks over little fires, selling plates of food and beer to people who sit on little plastic chairs around 6 inches high. The women wash the dishes and chopsticks and glasses the customers use in plastic basins of soapy water sitting right there on the sidewalk. Needless to say, lovely as it
all looks and smells, I don't dare try to eat at these curbside restaurants.

Adding to the village atmosphere are the women, many of them in the iconic conical straw hats, who move through the crowds with the double basket carriers slung over their shoulders. They all seem very small, and many are very old, but they carry all sorts of things, including live animals, in the baskets. Other women carry huge piles of things on their heads, like African women. There's a constant tinge of motor scooter fuel in the air, mixed with the aroma of street cooking, cinnamon (sp), incense burning at sidewalk shrines. . . .

Locksmiths working out of little boxes on the sidewalk~ young men spraypainting motor scooter parts on the sidewalk~ old men crouched over beers on the little plastic seats~ the narrow shops opening straight on to the sidewalk (traditional Vietnamese architecture seems tall ~ 3-6 stories~ and one room wide)~ the absence of skyscrapers, the old and heavy-leafed trees, the broad avenues and former colonial buildings~ all contribute to the sense that this is a unique place~ not just another itiration of a major, post-modern city.

I didn't realize that Vietnam is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a national per capita income of $500 ($1000 in Ha Noi), but a long and rich history. Today Mateo and I spent the morning in the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, which had exhibits that traced Vietnamese creativity from 2500 BC, through various dynasties, through modernism, the revolution, and ethnic and contemporary art.

The galleries meander through a wonderful French colonial mansions. In the afternoon, we visited the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam, founded in 1076. The campus is a series of embedded gardens, quiet pagodas, and flowering trees. Students still rub the heads of the turtles bearing the steles carved with the names of all the successful doctoral students (like a perpetual, and very public, registrars' office) for good luck on exams. The temple is still a functioning Confucian temple, with people lighting incense sticks and praying
among the tourists.

On our first day, we visited the Vietnam Military History Museum, which gave fascinating insight into Vietnam's war-torn history. It's clear that their struggle against the Americans was only one relatively brief chapter in struggles with China, France, and among themselves. The courtyard exhibited, disturbingly, wreckage of fighter planes which Vietnamese had shot down (several brought down by women), as well as a statement about the suffering-- through napalm, dioxin, and carpet-bombing- that Americans had inflicted on Vietnamese non-combattants.

But overall the tone of the museum was very welcoming, emphasizing that this military history was all part of Vietnam's struggle for liberation and self-determination, and that now they want to have positive, respectful relationships with "dear visitors" from all nations. Our visit earlier in the morning to the notorious "Ha Noi Hilton"-- the Hoa Lo Prison, which was actually built by the French to

deal with Vietnamese political prisoners from the start of the 20th century. Again, the curation was straightforward and respectful of both the suffering and causes of all those who had been imprisoned there, including John McCain.

We needed a break from cities, document anxieites, and the weight of history, so spent two days on a classic wooden junk in Ha Long Bay.

Dispatch: Shanghai

Black Travels community member, Claire Garcia is currently traveling through China and Vietnam, and has been sending us dispatches along the way.

Somehow, "Shanghai" seems to warrant an exclamation point. It is city life on a mega scale. The "American Century" is definitely over~ this is what the future looks like. This country is producing the only thing that keeps a drowsy American emperor awake: cheap goods.

I have never seen so many super-skyscrapers (even the apartment buildings). The streets are always teeming (Shanghai's population is 14 million) with humanity, buses, cars, bicycles. Never have I seen so many "gimungus" electronic billboards, or every single space devoted to advertising or selling. Never have I seen so many huge loads on bikes or motor scooters, or people splayed out in the street taking an afternoon nap. Every block has at least one major construction project on it. It is sweltering here. I'm not a big sweater, but I have ended every day drenched.

Of course, the first thing I did was stroll along the famous Bund, lined by European architectural imperialism: the street, the commercial center of old Shanghai (Customs house, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank - now the ubiquitous HSBC, etc)~ even a replica of Big Ben reminding the thousands in the street below 4 times an hour that the sun once never set on England. The HBSC has an astonishing domed mosaic in its lobby (it is still a working bank, amid all the glorious British neo-classical architecture) depicting the cities of its major branches: Calcutta, Hong King, New York, Paris, London, Shanghai, and one I'm forgetting. Unfortunately, photographs are not allowed.

Opposite the Bund is the very proletarian riverside promenade park, where once "Chinese and dogs were not allowed," though these two prohibitions appeared separately in the municipal code, not on a sign at the entrance, as legend has it. The Bund is just over the creek from our hotel, the funky historic Astor House which is trying to make the transition from a backpackers' hotel to 3-star tourist hotel, accompanied by often-comical ESL and bellboys in plaid a-line skirts which management apparently mistook for kilts.

Drenched, I found a secret little cafe tucked up in the rear of the second floor, guzzled one San Pelligrino in one gulp then tried to savor the second bottle while enjoying the coolness and the silence emanating from the courtyard below.

The next day, while waiting for my son Mateo to arrive, I headed over to the former French Concession to find the house, now museum, where the first Chinese Communist Party meeting was held. Of course, I first had to do the inaugural Garcia longer-than-it-looked-on-the=map-there-must-be-a-metro-around-the-next-corner death march for almost 90 minutes before finally jumping into a cab (cabs are cheap and plentiful).

At the site, I was the only foreigner in a sea of Chinese tourists, including masses of shrieking school kids wearing red neck kerchiefs. It was very interesting, and included a wax figure display of the 13 youths, including Mao, gathering excitedly around a table, setting out the vision and goals of the CPC. Fleeing the secret police who were trying to track them down, the revolutionaries held the final stage of their initial meeting on a junk in the river.

The museum also played homage to the "bourgeois revolutionaries," of the 19th and early 20th centuries who hadn't been able to succeed in over-throwing the imperialist oppressors because they didn't have the power of the proletariat behind them.

My next stop was a wonderful museum in a crown jewel urban renewal project, the Sichumen Open House. Many of you know of my interest in town houses. This museum reproduced a typical bourgeois town home, or sichumen, in 1920s Shanghai. It was an intriguing insight into how ordinary people lived and worked in pre-liberation Shanghai.

The top floor detailed the urban renewal process of the neighborhood~ saving the now decrepit architectural treasures of the sichumen while providing affordable housing and luxury housing and pedestrian-friendly commercial development in a neighborhood that had been going downhill for decades. The neighborhood is called "Xin Tiandi"-- heaven and earth. It's in the former French Concession, and where I would live if I ever end up in

My son Teo arrived from Beijing on the bullet train on Saturday night. Yes, he speaks Chinese: enough not only to navigate this amazing, overwhelming, and often wild city but also to joke with people and give directions to (Chinese) people who ask him. He is very disciplined and focused about learning Chinese~ does set lessons everyday on his mp3 player, though he mentioned this afternoon that he is "behind."

He has been to Shanghai a couple of times before, and I'd be literally lost without him.

June 10, 2008

Asia Trip Report - Jonathan Martindale

Jonathan Martindale shares with us a few highlights from his last whirlwind business trip to Singapore, China, Malaysia, and Indonesia

Jonathan's Preface

Hi all

I have a couple quick trip reports I want to put out here. These trips were all business related so they may read a little different than some others. Also since I was on business I had limited time for tourist activities so I usually utilized a city tour that was offered by whatever tourist agency was in the lobby or could be organized for me by the concierge. I found them really good if you have a short amount of time in a city. They allow you to quickly hit all the major spots of a city in just an afternoon.

The downside is they always take you by several merchant shops to "witness" local craftsman. But in actuality you are just being fed to some shopkeepers to be fleeced on some overpriced goods so that your guide can get their kickback. Also a common odd experience was being in an office or meeting and have people light a cigarette.

I can't even remember a time when you could smoke inside.


Very international city and centrally located to so many countries it is no wonder why it serves as an excellent port and business center. Other than that I didn't find much else to the city other than shopping. I quickly visited Sonesta Island which was overcrowded and not much more than a tourist trap. I stayed at the Singapore Marriott on Orchard which was one of the nicest hotels I have ever had the pleasure to stay in. The staff was extremely helpful and polite the food was outstanding though pricey.

Beijing, China

Level of pollution was disturbing. Most days you could hardly see the sun for all the smog. I feel for the marathoners come August. English was pretty well spoken probably thanks in part to the upcoming Olympics. To

ugh city to do some kinds of business I came to find. Normally you can pitch a client saying hey spend X amount of dollars with me and I'll help you save 5X dollars over time. But in a country where labor cost are so low the response is hey you would have to save me 20X before I'd really care as I can just double the workforce for pennies. I was taken to what I was told is THE place for Peking duck and quite frankly I was not very impressed. Now I'm far from being a health nut but that duck had to be the greasiest I've ever seen. And the worst part is you have to eat the skin dipped in sugar as part of the eating ritual. I could hear my arteries begging for mercy throughout the meal.

I've seen a lot of thins traveling that I've, either overbuilt up in my head and then found them to be a letdown or see something that is all the rage and just not be impressed but I was just taken aback by the Great Wall. It was outstanding to visit partly on its scale and how it must have been just a struggle for an invading army to attack as it was such a defensible position. It really is an engineering marvel. A word to the wise: if you are planning a trip to see the Great Wall spend a few weeks on the Stairmaster leading up to it. Your legs will tha

nk you for it.

I really enjoyed the Silk Market where your thirst for crappy counterfeit goods can be quenched. I had strict orders by some ladies in my life to bring back purses. I'm proud to say I know next to nothing about purse shopping but I did find that whatever price you are quoted counter with about 10% of that price and never settle above around 20% in the end. The quality was the same as the fakes you get in the states but the prices were substantially lower. I came to find that the purses I acquired would run about $60 - $100 in the states cost me about 5 to 10.

The Forbidden City was very nice. If you go bring the good walking shoes it seems to go on forever. I always think how big someone's ego must be to build things like this or similar structures like the Pyramids to themselves.

I stayed at the Courtyard Marriott New World Center in the Chongwen District. It like many other facilities is still in the renovation process for the Olympics. It was nicely located near a train line. My advice is if you can get to your destination via the train

take that route. The roads are so congested and the driving is beyond erratic that your best hope for sanity is to close your eyes in the car until you get where you are going. It easily the worst driving I've witnessed since Cairo. I flew in from Singapore via Singapore Air 747 in coach. I had not flown them before but they had a very good reputation which they lived up too. The new Beijing airport terminal is very nicely done but when returning to the airport make sure you know which terminal your flight is leaving from as the old terminal is a 15 minute bus ride away.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Petronas towers are very beautiful buildings especially at night. If you have the chance to go take note that to do the Skybridge visit you must get there early like no later than 0900 at the latest as tickets are free but limited to the first 1000 or so people. That said it is not that impressive as the bridge is midway up around the 43rd floor so the view is not that spectacular. I wish there was an observation deck at the top.

Oddest Incident: Standing at a street corner waiting to cross street a guy on a motorcycle pulled up to me and reached in his pocket. I thought he was going to rob me but instead handing me a card that said underage girls and then a phone number.

Had a cab driver try to run game on me by not turning on the meter for a quick trip then asking for 15 Malaysian ringgit for a ride that I know is normally 5. Now sure he was only trying to get 5 dollars out of me instead of the 2 I owed him but I just can't let anybody ride like that, in the end we settled on the equivalent of 3 dollars.

I thought the concierge was organizing my city tour that I pointed to in the brochure but when the guy arrived I realized he just called his homeboy to drive me around the city. Tour was still pretty good. I figured it was a normal tour guide working off the books.

I stayed at the Renaissance which of all the Renaissance I've stayed at over the years it had to be the least kept up. Now it wasn't bad mind you and the staff was excellent but they usually do way better.

Jakarta, Indonesia

Walking around this city in a business suit should be made criminal. It is just too darn close to the equator. My office had a great A/C unit but every local that came in complained I had it too cold. I guess they are acclimatized so it wasn't feeling like the 9th circle of Hades to them like it did to me. Perhaps it is liberal guilt but it is always off-putting to witness crushing poverty. I really didn't like when kids as young as 7 or 8 were working as street vendors and such. You want to feel like they should be somewhere being a kid. Crime and terrorism is a serious issue in the area. I've had easier times getting into embassies than I did the hotel with all its security. The food was quite excellent but I hate when the exchange rate is so large that a simple meal could be 200,000 of the local currency. My minor in math be darned I'm always afraid I'll wrongly convert in my head and put the decimal in the wrong spot as I witnessed when I thought I paid 6 bucks for some bad Chinese food only to later realize I paid 60. Big win of this trip was the 4 Seasons hotel was only 83 dollars a night! I didn't take the commuter train but I could see it constantly go by my office window and man it was a site. That train would be stuffed to the seams with people hanging on the outside and the side doors just wide open.

Report by Jonathan Martindale

June 5, 2008

Blogs by Black Travelers

Beauty in Baltimore compiled a fantastic list of blogs and websites that are maintained by black travelers who travel, study, and live abroad.

I have categorized and expanded them below (with new links)



Middle East


Latin and South America

World Travel

Am I missing a great blog or website by a fellow black traveler? Please post a link under comments below or email augustgreen [AT] hotmail [dot] com and I will update this list.

May 16, 2008

Paris in the Springtime.

I don't plan on any traveling until later this summer, so for now I'll just leave you with a few photos from my last weekend trip to Paris.

Paris 026

Paris 016

Paris 023

Paris 064

Paris 059

March 17, 2008

Black Boaters Summit 2008.

With ten successful Summits in the books, Captain Paul Mixon, a Richmond California event planner and creator of Black Boaters Summit, is headed back to the BVI once again August 1-10, 2008. " It's been a labor of love", laments Cap'n Paul as he is known to his participants. I just can't seem to get to that fifty boat flotilla needed to make this hobby a business.

"Introducing African Americans to sailing, a long time a minority in the sport, has been a real challenge. But I thought since the industry is 'missing the boat' , not targeting African Americans, why don't I give it a try", Cap'n Paul continues.

Black Boaters Summit tested the waters ten years ago after Sun Yacht Charters, now SunSail asked Cap'n Paul if he would help them sell chartering to African Americans. "We sailed with ten boats back in 1997. Not a bad start. Our best year was 2006 when 280 participants sailed on 24 yachts"

For the past ten years Black Boaters Summit has targeted the forty two billion dollar annual African American travel market as its niche. This year Cap'n Paul has plans to sell his event to US Yacht Clubs and Sailing schools. "We have created the best adventure vacation in the world. BBS is more a party than a sailing vacation. Our non boating non swimmers tell us they love the event. But getting folks to come and give us a try has been the root canal of all sales;" tells Cap'n Paul. "Thank God for our loyal returning clients, we could not produce the event without them."

Both Captain Paul and Captain Pinkney were very surprised one day last July when both men received a call from National Geographic saying that Cap'n Paul and Captain Bill Pinkney, the first African American to sail about the world solo, had been chosen to be one of three Life Dreams stories that would be featured in the December 2007 issue of National Geographic Magazine. A film team went to the homes of both sailors to interview them. Then followed the pair down to the BVI for a four day shoot during the 10th Annual Black Boaters Summit August of last year.

"National Geographic and Ameriprise Financial paid us a great honor", says Cap'n Paul. "They did an excellent job of telling our story."

To find out more about Black Boaters Summit go to:





For more Info on BBS 2008 contact:
Captain Paul Mixon
(510) 222-6308

March 6, 2008

Blog Addiction!

I don't know how many of you are as addicted to blogs as I am, but here is a list of Blogs (and a few websites thrown in for good measure) that I've been reading lately:

Do you know of others that should be added to the Black Travels Blog roll? Post links in comments!

February 18, 2008

Expat Connections.

I don't know how many of you have ever considered living abroad or maybe perhaps you are currently an expat, but I was just nosing around a bit and came up with this interesting list of links. It's only logical that lots of travel could eventually lead to living abroad at some point so I thought I'd list a two good sites here:

http://www.ExpatExchange.com/ - Has discussion forums and a pretty extensive resource guide.

http://www.Expatica.com/ - "Find a job or a house, check out business in our English-only listings, and get the information you need in the areas of education, health and finance."

If you have any links that might fit in on this list, feel free to post links in comments.

February 4, 2008

Free Travel! Application deadline: February 18th, 2008.

Looking for a way to take an all expense paid trip? Checkout The Experiment in International Living. Basically it's a chaperone opportunity in which you take a group of students overseas for the summer.

"The Experiment in International Living offers dynamic summer programs for high school students in 27 countries around the world. For 75 years, Experiment programs have provided transformational learning experiences to tens of thousands of young people. These groundbreaking summer abroad programs help students develop a profound understanding of a different culture, language, and world view, as well as the capacity to see their own lives and country in a much broader perspective."

How to Apply to Become a Leader:
Those interested in becoming group leaders should do one of the following:
Call us at (800) 345-2929 (toll free in the US) or (802) 257-7751
Download a PDF of the Leader Application and mail it to us
Apply Online

The application includes:
* a personal profile
* short essay questions
* a case study
* a brief Leader biography
* a "Dear Family" letter (written in the language(s) of the country(s) to which you are applying)
* Three (3) references

The Group Leader application deadline is Monday, February 18, 2008.

Completed applications will be reviewed through March and early April. Those who qualify will be scheduled for an interview. The process of making final decisions will begin in May.

Special thanks to Elaine Lee at http://www.ugogurl.com/ for this great trip tip!

January 22, 2008

"The People Could Fly Project".

I've been meaning to post about this project for ages, but time just got away from me. If you've never been to their blog--go now! The project is so amazing and inspiring. And best of all you can contribute to help them complete their documentary!

Project Description:
The People Could Fly Project is a documentary arts project focusing on the dreams of young people across the African Diaspora. It follows the adventures of five sisters, ages of 7 to 21 as they travel across the US, Africa, and South America talking to young people about their dreams and visions for themselves and the world. Their work will culminate in a docu-narrative film about the journey.

As the daughters of an airline employee they've been able to fly many places, but felt it was imperative to share their experiences with others and to talk and engage with young people around the world about the power of their own dreams, their own abilities to make them reality, and thus their own ability to fly.

They have traveled to New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Jena, LA, Connecticut, Detroit, Virginia, Nashville, TN; Washington, DC; and Mississippi talking, filming, photographing, and interviewing people of all ages about their dreams and are on the way to many other places.

They were inspired by a folktale told in the Americas about Africans enslaved who sprout wings and fly away. The story is found in children's book author Virginia Hamilton's "The People Could Fly".

The online segment of their journey with photos, video clips, and writing can be found at:

Contribute to help pay for their travels and the completion of their documentary! Contributions of $50 or more receive a signed and matted 8x10 photograph from Djibouti taken by Intisar Abioto.

January 8, 2008

Summer Vacation in Costa Rica?

The good folks over at Costa Rica Tours are at it again! They were kind enough to send me an email update that included information about their next BLACK HERITAGE TOUR IN COSTA RICA which is scheduled for August 27-September 2, 2008.

2007 Black Heritage Parade  DSC01000

"Explore this rich heritage as we savor all the sights, sounds and flavors that are uniquely Black Costa Rican."

-- Participate in the annual Black Heritage celebration on the Caribbean coast;

-- Meet members of local civic organizations for dinner and a cross-cultural exchange in Limon.

-- Attend a special presentation on Black History in Costa Rica and the role of Marcus Garvey, the UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association), and the Black Star Line Steamship Company.

2007 Black Heritage Parade  DSC01003

-- Enjoy two nights at a mountain lodge in Turrialba where you can take a moderate hike in the rainforest to Guayabo National Monument, Costa Rica's most important archaeological ruin dating to 1,000 BC, or learn how to prepare traditional foods from Costa Rica's best-known African-Caribbean chef.

-- Visit the Tayutic Hacienda - a coffee and sugar cane plantation with historical significance as part of traditional Hispanic culture. It also has some of the most beautiful scenery in the county;
-- Relax at a beach resort on the Southern Caribbean Coast, named by Outside Magazine Travel Guide as "one of the seven best beaches in the world."

-- Have a lobster dinner at the area's most popular beach restaurant and take a Canopy Tour (optional) on a zipline through Gandoca-Manzanillo National Park.

2007 Black Heritage Parade  DSC00988

-- Shop for crafts in Puerto Viejo and Moravia, and enjoy a traditional Costa Rican dinner at a popular entertainment center in San Jose.

I've never taken their tour, but this last e-mail was very tempting. And at under $1600 for a week long adventure, it really does sound like something to consider. Maybe it's time to dust off my passport and head for warmer weather!