Sep 12 2012
Sep 10 2012
Many people view travel as time with family and friends, exploring unfamiliar areas, or an opportunity to relax from a persistant routine. I recently returned from Africa, however it wasn’t under your typical label of “travel.”
I went with five others to volunteer to tutor street orphans (among other activities) who are taken in by an organzaition called Christ’s Hope. In Mwanza, Tanzania specifically, this organization is able to take in street orphans and help them to be safe and teach self-sufficiency. (They have to learn how to cook, do laundry, go to school, and so on.)
One of the best investments I had with me — at least bookwise — was Lonely Planet’s Swahili Phrasebook. As my Swahili is nowhere near fluent yet and many of these kids struggle with conversational English (though it is required in school that they learn it), this book was a gem. I could look up words and have a clear pronunciation guide in a pocket size book.
Sure, I could have asked someone else with better English-Swahili skills to translate or tell me the word, but when one isn’t around or I’ve already bombarded them with questions, the phasebook was a vital tool. For example, one afternoon I was helping Rachel — who was probably around 6 — with her math. We worked on counting and writing numbers. She couldn’t quite understand addition and often had trouble with double digit numbers. She also kept writing her sixes backwards. Beyond numbers, I quickly looked up words such as “add,” “equals,” “great job,” and so on. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to help Rachel write her numbers better as well as improving her comprehension of number sequence above 10.
I do not recall coming across any misused or mispronounciations within the Lonely Planetphrasebook either. With hundreds of words at my fingertips it helped make tutoring and conversing a lot easier. When next abroad I will definitly invest in whatever phrasebook language I need. I also love that this book had a small section on pronounciation of the alphabet and grammar — it was just enough to get me started and not feel overwhelmed as language books have a habit of doing.
Beyond phrasebooks, please consider some sort of humanatrain approach to travel. It is an experience you will not forget! Not to mention the closer taste of culture that any hotel or tourist trap would not be able to provide for you. Don’t let travel simply be a taking experience. Jump into the cuture and give.Read more: Africa, Book Reviews, General, Humanitarian, Phrasebook, Swahili, Tanzania, Travel, Travel Tips and Resources
Oct 09 2010
Three women, all in their late twenties, struggle to balance careers and relationships. Work deadlines, happy hours, caffeinated beverages, and workouts at the gym fill their fast-paced, over-scheduled New York City lives. That is, until they up and decide to take a year-long, round-the-world trip. Starting in South America, they travel to Africa, then to Asia, ending with Australia and New Zealand. Then, they turned their experiences into a book – The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World, by Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett, and Amanda Pressner.
The story is filled with romance and adventure. Together, Holly, Jen, and Amanda hike the Inca Trail, try medicine from an Amazonian shaman, party at a Brazilian favela, write a play in Kenya, visit a Laotian spa, go surfing in Australia, and bungee jump 440 feet into a river valley in New Zealand. Continue Reading »Read more: Africa, Around the World Travel, Backpacking, Book Reviews, Love & Relationships, New Zealand, South America, Southeast Asia, The Lost Girls, Travel, Volunteer Travel, Women's Travel
Mar 15 2010
There are quite a few excellent memoirs about growing up in Zimbabwe packing our shelves, but The Last Resort is the first one I have ever described as “really funny.” The Last Resort quickly became a staff favorite (not just because the frog on the cover is really cute) because it is a fascinating read – I found it impossible to put down. Douglas Rogers, now a Brooklyn-based journalist and travel writer, grew up in Zimbabwe and his parents continue to run their backpacker’s lodge, Drifters, today. The problem was that after reading the book, I desperately wanted to know what happened next to his parents and Drifters. So I asked, and he responded with an update.Africa, Book Reviews, Douglas Rogers, News, The Last Resort, Zimbabwe
Sep 26 2009
I climbed Kilimanjaro in the fall of 2006, taking the Machame route. The Machame route is arguably the most scenic: camera crews having chosen this route for the Kilimanjaro iMax movie. It is also one of the longer routes and one of the more arduous.
The Machame route, however, is not a technical climb and requires no previous mountaineering skills. I will add, though, that some ropes may have proved comforting when faced with the 1,000-foot drop above jagged rocks and the leap requiring lots of faith to get to the other side of the path. The summit was not as easily reached as I had suspected, based on the large number of tourists who climb it every year. It took seven days of hiking for six to eighteen hours per day. Clouds often obstructed our promised good view, but sometimes I got a rare glimpse of the spectacular scenery as though I was in an airplane taking aerial photographs.Africa, Hiking, Kilimanjaro, Solo Travel, Tours, Travel
Apr 13 2009
At least one customer a week asks, “Isn’t it difficult to work in a place like this? Don’t you just want to go everywhere?” The answer, invariably: “Yes.”
I think it’s fair to say that all of us have a nearly constant and always ferocious case of the travel bug. The fierce desire to be on the move, exploring new lands is a definite occupational hazard of working at the Globe Corner. The bug can strike at any time. The sudden urge to run away to Italy for a month comes on while chatting to a customer about the architecture of Venice. Gondolas, wine, a brief but passionate affair with someone who looks not unlike Furio from “The Sopranos”!Africa, Croatia, Globe Corner Bookstore, Travel, Travel Bug
Feb 17 2009
It is sunny and almost warm outside, and I have decided that it is time to come out of winter hibernation mode. I am also adjusting to a new pair of glasses and here all the far-sighted readers out there will feel for me, because the world became so wobbly and curvy that I feel like Alice in Wonderland. I cannot even read anything while my brain is learning to automatically turn curves into straight lines. But even this temporary impairment cannot dim my curiosity, so here I come with a list of hidden eye candy.
These are books that are not meant to be read, they are meant to be adored and looked through many times. I am writing about alternative, strange and very curious fashion photography book gems packed between our guides and maps. Tweaking a well-known expression, I would say that nothing tells you more about a country than it’s street food and street fashion.Africa, Art & Architecture, Book Reviews, Hidden Treasures, Japan, News, Photo books, Picture Books, Syria, World Culture, World Fashion
Nov 14 2008
I have recently returned from Austin, Texas. Everyone says the greatest things about Austin, and I have no complaints. I’m sure it was lovely. I bet it was spectacular. Maybe it would’ve been my future home. I will never know. I went to Austin not to see the city and its sights…I went to dance!!
There I was on stage in front of 2000 lovely people, or so I assumed, but the lights were so bright! Not too bad right? There is a catch though, this was the opening night for the world’s largest drum convention called The Percussive Arts Society International Convention. PASIC asked the Berklee West African Drum and Dance Ensemble to perform the first ceremony of the convention. So as a drummer and dancer, I was in front of 2000 other drummers and I hoped and prayed that we were all on the beat.Africa, Austin, Berklee West African Drum and Dance Ensemble, Music, PASIC, Texas, Travel
Nov 08 2008
For such a small country, Ghana sure does have a lot of distinct musical traditions, each marked by unique rhythms, instruments, and dance styles. I learned all this first hand when I saw the GCB’s favorite bike-riding, drum-playing, book-selling employee, Dan, perform with the Berklee West African Drum and Dance Ensemble in a show titled Ghana: A Musical Landscape, directed by Joe Galeota.
At the store, we often hear about Dan’s love for West Africa, drumming, and dancing – but hearing about it (no matter how enthusiastic he is) does not compare, even slightly, to going to a show and seeing his entire ensemble, including native Ghanaians, perform for nearly two hours.
The show, which was exhausting just to watch, showcased six traditional musical styles from different regions of Ghana – Kete, Bamaaya, Yilla/Guola, Bewaa, Adzogbo-Todzo-Le, and Kpanlogo. For each style, the dancers wore the traditional dress to provide a more complete portrait of Ghana. Besides just seeing Dan in his dancing element, a highlight of the show was the gyil solo by Bernard Woma, lead drummer of the National Dance Company of Ghana. The gyil is a type of xylophone constructed using wooden bars hung over various sized gourds (see photo when post continues).Africa, Berklee West African Drum and Dance Ensemble, Ghana, Music, News, West Africa
Oct 30 2008
Okay, so I’ll confess: before I interviewed for my job at the Harvard AIDS Initiative, I looked on a map to make sure that Botswana was where I thought it was. (And it was, right there north of South Africa.) I got the job and, four months later, landed in Africa for the first time.
If you mention Botswana to a lot of Americans, they’ll ask, “Have you read The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency?” If you haven’t; do so. I read this first book in Alexander McCall Smith’s mystery series to get a sense of the country. It’s an enjoyable read, chronicling the adventures of Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s leading and only female private detective. McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and educated in Scotland. After working for years as a Professor of Law in Scotland, he returned to Africa to work in Botswana. His books, worldwide bestsellers, portray the people and changing culture of Botswana. If you’re a mystery junkie, there are eight more books in the series.Africa, Alexander McCall Smith, Book Reviews, Botswana, News, Travel Writing