- Fly brothers Mike and David Hrostoski (rah-STAH-ski) are traveling the country this summer volunteering their time, energy, and skills to, well, anyone.
- Harvard Business Review tackles the conundrum of highly-qualified, aimless professionals who can’t figure out what the hell to do with their lives.
- Chocolate Gringa gets into the flavors of Arequipa with a photologue of her Peruvian Cooking Experience.
- Mike Barish schools Europe on how to make itself more attractive to tourists and get its economy back together at Shermans Travel Blog.
- Rachel Hand of Worldette talks about how “fluid living” trumps the idea of “expat.”
- The Atlantic tells us what foreign travel guidebooks to the USA tell visitors about us.
- Blog buddies Oneika the Traveller and Travels of Adam both share their “Untamed Americas” for NatGeo.
- The Los Angeles Times delves into the ridiculous cost of visiting Brazil…the thrill’s ain’t cheap anymore.
- Good takes us to South Africa to find out why “The Airplane is Faster than the Heart.”
- Watch this amazing, poignant video of a group of young black men from Morehouse College on an exchange trip to Thailand:
Very long story short, two hours before scheduled departure, my flight to Accra was canceled, with technical issues cited. With the possibility of getting to Ghana before Tuesday at the earliest now alarmingly slim, and with absolutely having to be back in the U.S. for a work project on July 1, I just couldn’t fathom flying all the way to Africa to spend less than a week there. Alas, my brethren and sistren, Ghana has been indefinitely postponed, this go round.
Now, it may look like that Fly Brother’s been knocked down for the count, first with Amsterdam not working out and now this, but don’t shed too many tears, good people: 95% of the trips I plan, I end up taking. Ghana being canceled, though, was a disappointment. Ah well. Next!
Fly Brother Week
On the brighter note, I found myself marooned in the glorious city of New York (above, formerly known as New Amsterdam) for the remainder of the week. This presented a challenge—how to see as many of my friends in town as possible and how to keep daily costs down to what I had expected to spend in, well, Ghana. A surprisingly simple solution arose: get my friends to take me to their favorite local cheap eatery (meaning meal + beverage for $10 or less) and I’d tweet and blog about it!
So, for the rest of this week, I’ll be tripping the light fantastic all over town, grubbing on the cheap with good peeps, and telling you all about it. Make sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook for live updates and definitely stop by the blog next Monday for the Fly Brother Week Recap!
This week, my travel plans unexpectedly took an exciting turn, manifesting itself as a flight connection in Amsterdam. With three days free before heading off to Ghana, I was suddenly faced with the intriguing prospect of spending two days in the Dutch capital. I immediately hopped on CouchSurfing to check for a host, hoping to have some local insight into a city I’d never been to before. I immediately became disheartened when seeing the discussion boards about Amsterdam being one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe with a mere 800,000 people, and every local member of CouchSurfing receiving “10-15 requests each day.” Yowza. The stats were not in my favor.
Why CouchSurfing, you may ask? Well, a last-minute hotel room isn’t always in the budget and I’m just not a hostel kinda guy. Besides, what better way to get to know a place and make friends than crashing with someone from the area, or at least someone who lives in the city? When I can’t find a host who’s a native of the particular country I’m going to, I end up looking for Brazilians living in the area because, nine times out of ten, they’re just affable enough to host a visiting foreigner. That said, I contacted a few Amsterdam-based CSers who said in their profiles that they were willing to accept last-minute requests. After three very polite declines (which is better than what many people get; the Amsterdam CS community acknowledging that with the volume of requests being so high, some people never even get a “sorry, can’t do it” message).
Needless to say, my two-day blitz of Amsterdam never materialized and instead, I went home to see the kinfolk in Florida. But I haven’t given up on the ‘dam just yet. It’ll happen.
Next week, I’ll be traveling to Ghana, one of many African countries that requires U.S. citizens to obtain a visa prior to traveling even if the purpose of the trip is leisure. While sometimes challenging and almost always annoying, it’s important to point out that the visa process for Americans traveling overseas is still a thousand times simpler and more straightforward than what much of the world endures just to take their kids to Disney World. Still, for newer travelers especially, the visa process can seem daunting and—coupled with expensive airfares and lengthy flights—can make an African vacation seem much less appealing.
Well, I’ve done some research and found 19 nations in Africa that allow for visa-free travel* for American citizens, or offer tourist visas for a fee upon arrival at the main international airport, all accessible by airlines that offer nonstop or connecting service from major U.S. gateways. In other words, there is no excuse for not visiting these destinations if you’ve got the time and the money—you can just hop on a plane and go!
*Before any trip, always check both the U.S. Department of State travel site for country-specific entry/exit requirements and safety alerts, and the consular website (or better yet, call) for the country you plan on visiting for the most up-to-date information.
African countries requiring no visa for American citizens entering as tourists for a limited amount of time (usually 30, 60, or 90 days):
- Equatorial Guinea
- South Africa*
*Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland require visitors have at least two blank pages in their passports for entry.
African countries offering tourist visas for a fee upon arrival at the main international airport (fees vary):
So what are you waiting for?
In this episode of the Fly Brother Podcast:
Fantasy Flight 414 – The Diplomat
Journey with Fly Brother on an ethereal, all-music flight from the capital of the free world to the capital of free expression—DC to Berlin—featuring classic soul, house, downtempo, acid jazz, and a little go-go from local musicians and artists inspired by local sounds. Whether its to work out, chill out, or make out, this compilation will transport you each time you listen. Download and get lifted.
“Chuck Baby” – Chuck Brown
“Hot Music” – Soho
“Moving Like a Train” – Herbert
“Rock Creek Park” – The Blackbyrds
“Amerimacka” – Thievery Corporation f. Notch
“Behold These Days (Berlin ’74)” – Jazzanova
“Donaueschingen” – Kruder & Dorfmeister
“Souvenir” – Manoo & Francois A.
“Just Like…” – Eddy Meets Yannah
“Din Daa Daa” – George Kranz
Should all the stars align and everything go according to plan, I will be touching down in my very first sub-Saharan African country at the end of June: Ghana. For ten days, I’ll be soaking up the culture and history of Accra, capital city of a country whose inhabitants, whether they accept it or not, are my cousins, my family. Pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah was born there. Pan-Africanist WEB Du Bois died there. I expect to discover something of myself there.
Any suggestions on activities to be done, experiences to be had, and people to know while in Accra will be greatly appreciated. Meanwhile, take a gander at these videos about Ghana’s new generation of leaders, its reception of Diasporic blacks, and its colors and flavors via Anthony Bourdain: