Andy, it's YOUR Blog so you call the shots PERIOD! Why allow negative energy to enter and disrupt the exchange of information and content we kissed ass in regards to our occasional guests' negative "BS" a bit while our daughter was being educated in the States and we had a mortgage payment but now we're back to ZERO TOLERANCE for negative energy of any sort just like the first 10 years after opening our doors to world travelers. I have skimmed over some of your DELETED comments section so saw exactly why you wouldn't allow such weird personal attacks and criticisms. You're out there traveling the world, doing your thing, sharing what you feel like sharing with those who follow your blog and to those hundreds of others who bump into it by mistake while surfing the web so WHY do some people insist on correcting your English, grammar, dotting your "i"s etc????? Weird like come ON people GET A LIFE!!
You're wise to go silent in such a situation as the van with people sounding on the brink of losing their tempers where in the tropics can lead to violence in a "New York Second". I might have just got out of the vehicle to save myself from further conversation or exchanging looks and facial expressions. Even smiling in such circumstances can PISS OFF some people with chips on their shoulders and an ax to grind with any "whitey". Like it's our fault their own people captured them and sold them as slaves to the white man in sail boats who were "dumb" enough to pay more than anyone in their own tribe or nearby tribes. I'm sick of that whole "racism" issue that gets stuck on the nearest caucasian.
Anyway you must have felt GREAT to be remembered by someone who'd you met a few years ago so all in all you're heading for a MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
Merry Christmas from Buenos Aires here christmas eve is called "Noche Buena".
I must say, that i am a little surprised by you...Only a "novato del camino" (road Rookie) criticizes the country in general within earshot of the local gente. I myself like to tell them only the good stuff i encounter. They already know everything that is wrong with their country! No need to remind them!
In tricky situations I use My 3 Fables Rule:
"I love your this country, the food is delicious, the women are beautiful and everyone I have met is friendly helpful and kind"
Using the word "your" imparts ownership ie it is the listeners own personal private country i have complimented him personally!
Everyone conotates food with mom. telling them the food is good is like telling him his mother is good. Everyone wants to believe the country they live in has beautiful women by telling them as a traveller you re-confirm their own thoughts and being a traveller makes you some kind of authority. And By Saying that everyone else has been nice, well... No one anywhere wants to be the first asshole you have met in the entire country. Happy jChristmas and merry new year.
I was taking a video, the one man did not like that.
2nd man heard me talking to the camera, saying it was chaotic and understood the word, being it was chaotic, I was very impressed and told him so, but he was already working his agenda.
99 percent of the time here in Ghana, the word chaotic would have not been understood as i was pointing a camera and talking into a camera in the midst of absolute nutty situation, so the 1 in 100 happened.
I never patronize, it is not respectful of people. I seldom say bad things about a country unless they ask me, and if they ask, I tell them the truth.
If you are in a dangerous place, and the believe you are lying... because you are.... I do not lie. If they believe you are lying, you are in super trouble.
This is why tourist need guide leaders, and most people stay in safe countries. The way to handle all situations is easy, just be honest, people will respect you. They may hate you, but the situation will be OK.
Merry Christmas, Andy. I have been following you for a while. Sometimes I think you are so wise... other times I wonder when you will grow up. Just like me. Reading today's post, I want to share that my belief that conflict is unavoidable. We deal with it successfully every day. It's the "painful conflict" that causes problems. And, I agree with you that fueling the fire is a devilish thing to do. But I believe that silence sometimes fuels the fire, too. The guy next to you may not explode at the moment, but maybe he will the next time he sits next to some white dude. I hear the people in your story in pain because they are so needing respect and they believe they are not getting it. (This is their story, and they believe it is "true.") Things are "chaotic" from your point of view, but not from theirs. Their picture of chaos doesn't match yours. No right... no wrong... just what is, from each one's own point of view. When you say that you just tell the truth, I shudder. You speak your truth and they speak theirs.
A quote from Persian poet Rumi: "Out beyond the field of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there,"
Peace and wonderful adventures in the new year.
Sort of missing the big picture... hmm
"O Come all Ye Faithful..."
This is the start of my story, I was listening to this at 4:35 am this morning, a rather offbeat time to be playing Christmas Carols.
What this means is that only the brothers and sisters, the people of like kind should come and adore him. God or Jesus represents good, the light, the beginning, the opposite of dark, and understanding.
Faith is not logical, it is a leap.
Words are nothing, it was intentions that were being weighed the other day in the van.
" I accepted that the faithful will find a calm place, you know, that heaven on earth group, and the other larger group will find chaos, and deny it is chaos."
This is a parable of sorts, enjoy...
Come all ye Faithful, this means that those who agree should come.
"one gentleman tried to say,
"He is a visitor in our country."
--- Oops, he was one, the groupthink has already gone south, he stopped, I looked at him, he looked at me, and we understood."
He as of like mind, but I never said, he was defending me in the Ashanti language, I could not understand a word he said, but I understood.
Bottom line, none of you was there, and only a very few of you will ever be put your butt in a van in Africa.
"When the student arrives, the teacher will appear."
Nothing is more dysfunctional than to think I am or could be responsible for the feeling of another person, I do my best, nothing more, nothing less. People who intend to understand, will understand.
The best part of the last several posts for me is that it's great posts/videos on the gritty, down on the ground experience in a place most never heard of, and couldn't find on a blank map to save their skin. It oozes with what I consider real travel.
Dealing with chaos is often the thing that tests what we are made of.
To me Andy was just being himself and others in the van may not have liked what was said and things get dicey. His genius is he knows when to modulate his behavior when the circumstances warrant it, and has enough self control and intelligence to employ it. Good for him since he intends to stay in Africa awhile.
At the core I think Andy's "truth" is simply stripping away the veneer on life in a world that likes to add more coats.
Yet another example of why it's one of the very few blogs I bother to read regularly.
Let us not rely on the words of others for our personal revelations.
I got into a situation on a bus in Honduras many years ago, seems a couple of young men had been deported from the USA and had a chip on their shoulder. They started to mock me, sing Yankee Doodle Dandy and whatever and I just shut up until we got to San Pedro Sula, got off the bus as quickly as possible and took a taxi to my Honduran friend's home, he told me upon my arrival I did the right thing, public transportation is 'public' anywhere in the world and the locals have the upper hand, for myself had my own vehicles for years in Guatemala then El Salvador, I drove defensively and over 14 years had only three small 'fender bender' type accidents, one of which was not my fault, but paid .the other driver, a local, anyway, so police would not become involved. After 2000 driving in San Salvador and parking as well became just a pain in the rear end, so sold my car, Guatemala plates and title, back in Guatemala City. Sometimes on long distance buses meet a really great person to converse with, mainly I wind up having a nice short conversation with my seatmate anyway and only rarely do I run into someone with a chip on his or her shoulder, then I just cut the conversation off and feign going to sleep, buses in Latin America, the first class international or long haul kind, in my opinion, are superior to the Greyhound services in the USA, in my experience. When I was in States a couple months ago took AMTRAK down to Virginia from New York to visit my Sister and her husband, really enjoyed the train ride, even though most people in States seem self asorbed, no good or even bad conversation, when the entire planet some day is Wi Fi ed and everyone has a Blackberry or equal, there will be mainly only ''e" conversation, you had the hotel at the end of the line where they knew you and welcomed you, way back when I had such hotels in Guatemala, you are fortunate, be grateful and Merry Christmas to you. Donald Lee, long term ex pat in El Salvador and Guatemala.
Merry Christmas Andy,
It is a trip spending Christmas away from "home" last year we spent Christmas in Jerusalem which was not 100 by design it just worked out that way (no Christmas trees there, it was just another day to them, obviously)
I am happy that you have been writing almost every day lately...it is a pleasant diversion that gets my head where I like it-abroad. Since I cant travel I enjoy hearing from you, and I have been enjoying your take on the situation that you are in. With a little bit of massaging you could have a novel ) the danger of being in an unstable situation, the girl (plural?), and the road.
I know that when you sit in those vans they cram you in there so f'n tight that frequently there are 5 people (anda chicken and a sack of some kind of beans) in a row meant for 3 at most. I know how it feels, the defining moment when the energy goes from being nuetral and cramped to against you and opressive. It feels like you are being invaded from all sides, eyes squint down around you, they glance at eachother then you and it feels like knives. I have found that for me if I smile and say something light hearted and funny it will take the tension away, it is really incredible how disarming it can be. It is the religous ones (not talking about Christians) that are really keen at making people feel uncomfortable to the point of being disoriented.
I do enjoy the chaos though. It appears from your video that they are not flagrantley rude, or rude at all. I have been in places where when you get off the bus people are literally pulling on you. Three different people literally pulling you in a different direction (Lima, Iquitos, Siam Reap,Maputo, Tijuana, Cairo) makes me feel caged and violent-but, if, you just let them see your teeth when you smile, they usually back off.
Where am I going with this...Getting around in A is a seriously trying experience, with a heavy reliance on trusting people that you are unsure if you should, unreliable equipment that is sometimes unsafe, being seriously cramped with other peoples stinky sweat dripping on you (yummmy!).Loose your watch and all expectations and I think a smile usually is a better weapon than the machette. What you have at the end is a gold medal that you earned. You can look at a map and remember what every mile felt like, and what every smile or stare or snare did to the air.
Its your life and you are living it..just be safe my friend, I know that you laugh at the people that say that Africa is violent, but...I knew a German guy, aimless and full of lust for life but ungrounded that wanted to leave Lilongwe for Congo and wanted me to come with him very badly. I would not go, as much as I wanted to, I knew it was a bad idea. He said to me "Dont you want to see the 'Heart of Darkness'"? He was low key and humble as they come but big (6' 210lbs)...I read in the paper two weeks later when I got back to India-"German tourist 22 years old is killed in The Congo" Just keep it in mind my friend, he was not looking for trouble, a type A-. Take care Andy and Merry Christmas! One of these days we will meet up...
I try to read up on your travels at least once a week!
After reading several days worth of your stories/comments I was reminded of a e-mail I received. It was originaly sent from a father in Hong Kong to his son and it might be relevant to you, here is part of the content!
Remember the following as you go through life:
Do not bear grudges towards those who are not good to you. No one has the responsibility of treating you well, except your mother and I. To those who are good to you, you have to treasure it and be thankful, and ALSO you have to be cautious, because, everyone has a motive for every thing they do. When a person is good to you, it does not mean that he really likes you. You have to be careful, don't hastily regard him as a real friend.
No one is indispensable and there is nothing in the world that you must possess. Once you understand this idea, it will be easier for you to go through life when people around you don't want you anymore, or when you lose what/who you love most.
Life is short. If you waste your life today, tomorrow you will find that life has left you. The earlier you treasure your life, the better you enjoy life.
Love is but a transient feeling, and this feeling will fade with time and with one's mood. If your so called loved one leaves you, be patient, time will wash away your aches and sadness. Don't over exaggerate the beauty and sweetness of love, and don't over exaggerate the sadness of falling out of love.
A lot of successful people did not receive a good education, that does not mean that you can be successful by not studying hard! Whatever knowledge you gain is your weapon in life. One can go from rags to riches, but one has to start from some rags!
I do not expect you to financially support me when I am old, either would I financially support you your whole life. My responsibility as a supporter ends when you are grown up. After that, you decide whether you want to travel in a public transport or in your limousine, whether rich or poor.
Honour your words, but don't expect others to be so. You can be good to people, but don't expect people to be good to you. If you don't understand this, you will end up with unnecessary troubles.
I have bought lotteries for umpteen years, but I never won any large prize. That shows if you want to be rich, you have to work hard! There are no free lunches!
No matter how much time I have been with you, let's treasure the time we have together. We do not know if we would meet again in our next life.
I hope that something said might be of value to you Andy especially at this time of year.
Belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!