It’s not that often news about Lebanon brings a smile to my face. Triporati has decided that peace and stability is tenuous enough in the country to warrant this editor’s note:
[Editor's note: In an October 12, 2011 travel warning the U.S. State Department said, "The potential in Lebanon for a spontaneous upsurge in violence remains," and it urged U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of travel there.]
I still yearn for the day this vibrant and rich country can welcome all travelers safely.
When I lived in France, I worked with a man from Beirut who told me stories of the glory days of Beirut with great gusto and pride. It’s a lively city and tourists are coming back following many difficult years. Continue reading »
Libya and Algeria have a lot in common. Both North African countries encompass vast tracks of Saharan desert and their capitals and major cities are on or near the Mediterranean. Both possess some of the ancient world’s finest archaeological sites and both experienced long periods of European colonization.
In a way, the difficulties modern travelers experience in obtaining visas for these countries are a legacy of their troubled modern histories. While one can land in Morocco, Tunisia, and Eqypt without a prearranged visa, Libya and Algeria have strict entry requirements.
Things have recently become easier in Libya with group tourist visas available upon arrival for members of prearranged package tours. Trouble is, airline officials are often unfamiliar with the change and passengers without proper documentation are routinely denied boarding for Tripoli at European airports. Only those in possession of an advance clearance form in Arabic bearing their name and passport number are allowed through. Continue reading »
It’s less than three months to the 2010 FIFA Football (Soccer) World Cup in South Africa and David Beckham, the soccer king, has ruptured his achilles tendon. England still has a strong chance of winning, but the loss of the talented and flashy Beckham is unfortunate. He may attend as an ambassador, but at 34, this was to be his swan song on the world stage.
Set to take place from June 11th to July 11th, this World Cup marks the first time that the tournament will be hosted by an African nation.
Despite concerns about infrastructure, construction, crime and controversies over forced eviction of the poor, South Africans and soccer fans alike are getting excited. Alicia Keys, The Black Eyed Peas, John Legend, Shakira, and others are set to perform at the opening ceremonies and global participation in the event is unrivaled, even by the recent Beijing Summer Olympics. Soccer is truly a sport that is played in every corner of the planet. Continue reading »
Spud Hilton reported in the San Francisco Chronicle the other day a new spin on the top 10 lists we always see at this time of year. Not the best beaches or golf courses or hot cities for the new year, but the Developing World’s 10 Best Ethical Destinations.
The list was compiled by Jeff Greenwald and Christy Hoover at EthicalTraveler.org, a nonprofit organization (part of the Earth Island Institute) that urges travelers to spend their travel dollars in ways that protect human rights and minimize impacts on the environment. They acknowledge that no country on the list is perfect (what country off the list is?) but they found lots of hope and inspiration in many places. Continue reading »
The Obama family has landed in Ghana, the first independent sub Saharan country and the ancestral home of many African Americans. A democratic and peaceful country, Ghana is sitting on a lot of oil and certainly is a strategic visit for Obama on many levels. Ghana has been dubbed the Gateway to Africa and the presidential family visit is placing Ghana in the tourism spotlight. Currently, Ghana is third in West Africa tourism arrivals. Senegal is considered the most developed tourism destination in West Africa. Nigeria is second. Many Blacks in the Diaspora have made pilgrimages to Ghana’s Castles, which served as transit points for the shipment of their ancestors to the then new world. The President plans to visit the castle which symbolizes so much to so many. If you want to learn more about Ghana, check out Triporati’s Ghana destination page which is our featured destination this week to coincide with the Presidential visit.
Most of us have seen so many photographs of the Pyramids of Giza that we may feel we know them and don’t expect any surprises when we actually see the gargantuan tombs in person. I certainly didn’t expect to have much of a reaction when I saw them on my first trip to Egypt earlier this month.
In fact, seeing the Egyptian Pyramids wasn’t even my top priority when I arrived. I wanted to see Cairo, the fabled markets and crowded streets and the legendary River Nile. Even a visit to the Red Sea ranked pretty high on my list. I figured the pyramids would be another stop on my tourist path, granted an awesome stop, but I hadn’t given them much thought beyond that. Continue reading »
I saw him moments after descending from the bus before boarding the boat for the Temple of Philae in Aswan. It wasn’t the white stubble of his beard and close cropped gray hair that caught me. It wasn’t his erect posture in the flowing galibeyah gown or his flashing eyes or the smooth texture of his brown skin. It was the white cotton shirt in his hands.
Simple embroidery decorated the shirt pocket. A buttonless slit ran from near the pocket to the collarless neckline. Cut like a t-shirt but elegant in its whiteness in the desert sun, the shirt flapped like a flag in his brown fingers. Continue reading »
The gnarled, web-like fists of Rosa Santa Maria mystified me.
“It’s good for luck, and smells good in the home,” one shopkeeper said.
The overflowing barrels of dark red whorls?
“Hibiscus.” Continue reading »
In just about any tourist town the local markets sell trinkets, and one of the great mysteries of the modern world, perhaps even of the ancient world, is how so many shops can survive or hope to survive selling the same merchandise.
“Alabaster” pyramids, “jeweled” boxes, stylized cats, hookahs, sand paintings in vases, papyrus paintings, decorative plates, pharaohs’ busts, cotton head scarves and belly-dancing wraps, the list goes on and on. Almost every shop sells the same merchandise and their only hope for business is to befriend visitors without being pushy. Continue reading »
On his 40-year tour of the neighborhood many millennia ago, Moses passed this way and found a burning bush at the base of a mountain and heard the voice of God. I sat on the terrace of El Mawardy Café and saw my own burning bush atop the hill at the end of town. I don’t think I heard the voice of God but I did hear the Muslim call to prayer, the laughter of children getting a treat a few tables away, the honking of a car horn.
Maybe the voice of God was speaking quietly, because my friends and I were sitting across the street from where a terrorist bomb exploded in 2005, destroying an entire row of shops and killing many people. The shops have been rebuilt, the neighborhood is friendly, especially in the evening when the shadows soften the harsh sun and the lights of shops cast a festive glow over the streets. A crescent moon and resplendent Venus added to the spell. Continue reading »