Tags Posts tagged with "Kit Herring"

Kit Herring

by Elaine J. Masters

www.tripwellness.com
www.drivetimeyoga.com

Whether it’s a girlfriend’s getaway or a romantic rendezvous, historic Ventura’s got it down. I met my sister there recently. She came in by train from Santa Barbara and I ventured north from San Diego. We arrived within minutes of each other.

I love day-trips by train. It’s a guilty pleasure to scoot north from San Diego by rail and slip past commuters stuck on the 405 freeway. With gas prices high, the Amtrak fare’s reasonable and you can get a discount with a three day advance purchase if you’re a AAA member. You can nap, read or, with your laptop, get a little work done. There are outlets for charging at most seats. Take care though not to let your computer keep you from enjoying the views. Just north of San Diego, the rails hug the coast. The train then turns inland through industrial neighborhoods, passing close enough to Disneyland to spy the peak of the Matterhorn ride. You may have to transfer trains. With at least a half hour before departing, you can stretch your legs and admire the Art Deco detailing in the historic Los Angeles Union Station.

If you’re lucky, your train will continue north with a domed observation car. You’ll roll through tunnels and past the great boulders north of Chatsworth. Watch for Iverson Ranch and Corgill Park – you may recognize the bluffs that were featured in many old cowboy movies.

When you disembark in Ventura, the station is a bare platform. Everything you need is a short walk a few blocks away. Across the street, the overpass shelters colorful, muraled walls detailing the history of the area. There’s homage to the original Tortilla Flats, inspiration for Steinbeck’s novel; illustrations of Babe Ruth, who played there, and other figures. Walk up a few blocks to China Alley where another mural honors the immigrant merchants, laborers and families that helped establish the city.

Along Main Street are dozens of historic buildings that have been lovingly restored, including Mission Buenaventura, with its gardens and small museum. It’s a stark contrast to the statuesque City Hall, one block up a steep hill, with its Doric Columns. A more modest pleasure is the Erle Stanley Gardner office building, ‘the home of Perry Mason’. If the lobby’s locked you can peer inside to see pictures from the TV series.

My sister and I wound through antique shops and hunted bargains at the many consignment and thrift stores. It was no easy task to select a place to eat, as the neighborhood is full of options from modest to pricey. We finally rested our feet and thoroughly enjoyed our sandwiches at the Savory Café and Bakery.

Around the corner on California Street is the European-styled Bella Maggiore Inn.  I can picture having breakfast in the interior courtyard café when I return for a longer visit. One afternoon isn’t enough to take in all that charming Ventura holds.

 

 

One of the most exciting journeys you can make anywhere in South America is to go from the mountains to the rain forest, either headed east to the Amazon from the Andes, or, in Colombia and Ecuador, toward the west and the Pacific lowlands.

The route in Peru from Cusco to the Manu Reserve area of Amazonia is no exception.

1) The starting point at the Plaza de Armas in Cusco

Head north out of town from the main square through the less well-heeled outskirts of town and eventually you climb from the river valley on a precipitous, one-lane gravel track, with bottomless drop-offs to the left.

2) The road begins to climb

The route passes through the highlands, winding its way among small villages and farms.  At one point it intersects an unusual geological formation, which local legend holds to be a huge boulder, the size of an office building, that fell from the sky and crashed, breaking apart on impact. I stopped and hiked up to these rocks on one occasion, and they certainly looked like the the remnants of  a strange natural event, but it was hard to tell.

Regardless, the road eventually arrives in Paucartambo, home to a famous religious festival and a seventeenth century Spanish bridge.

3) The Juan Carlos Bridge in Paucartambo

Evidently the Spanish were keen on the region from their earliest times of settlement. One can imagine them continuing from town and arriving at Tres Cruces, the high-point of the route where, without warning, the bottom falls out of the Earth and the vast Amazon basin unfolds to the horizon like waves on an undulating sea of green.

4) The cloud forest begins

5) Here the track is still above the forest a good vertical distance, but very close horizontally

As you ride the road downhill, the air warms and becomes more fecund, the humidity rises sharply and at last you’ve left the austere high Andes behind, dropping into a world gone riotous.

 6) Further down

 

By Kit Herring

As a great American city, San Francisco combines both modern California style with an elegance born of its unique location near the sea.  Its skyline is recognized world-wide and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge is a testament to American ingenuity and engineering. The city is a melting pot of styles and cultures from the Old World and the New.

The casual visitor cannot help but be awed by the scale of the scenery. The water of its bay recalls the city beginnings as a gold-rush seaport.  Yet one of the first Europeans to sail the northern California coast, Captain James Cook, missed San Francisco’s deep-water harbor altogether.  From one of a thousand vantage points one can look past the mighty Golden Gate to the Pacific Ocean while sailboats cross back and forth on the waters, their silhouettes a counterpoint to the austere island fortress of Alcatraz, at one time home to America’s toughest criminals.

In more recent years San Francisco became a magnet for the disaffected youth of America who gathered at Haight-Ashbury to celebrate the hippy lifestyle, even as Tony Bennett, the crooner from an earlier, straighter era, put the town on the map by leaving his heart there.

Epicureans will delight in the pleasures of the many open-air markets the city offers and the many kinds of cuisine that contribute to the city’s gastronomic offerings.

More culturally-inclined travelers will be inspired by the nightlife scene with its clubs and theatres.  And there’s no end to San Francisco city breaks at a low cost.

Take a walk to Fisherman’s Wharf and mingle with the throngs of tourists and locals who gather to watch the action and to watch each other.  Enjoy Telegraph Hill and its famous parrots, or tip your car down the cobblestones of Lombard Street, the country’s official winding road. You can choose an affordable Bed and Breakfast or other accommodations at your leisure.

Join in the fun and experience an urban center that rivals any of the world’s metropolises.

By Kit Herring

After 10 years of road trips across the USA and sailing to islands of the Caribbean, Davarian Hall visited the country of Peru in 1982 as a travel writer and photographer. His work was subsequently published in publications such as National Geographic Traveler Magazine and, with the advent of the World Wide Web, within scores of web sites.

In Peru Davarian pursued a career as an eco-tourism consultant working with conservation organizations and indigenous Indians to help build and promote Amazon rainforest lodges.

Davarian is currently a partner in the Amazon Refuge Wildlife Conservation Center, a remote research center located off of the Peruvian Amazon River. Here Indian communities, including the San Juan de Yanayacu Indians protect a one million-acre Amazon rainforest reserve. The reserve area is one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. Monkeys, Jaguars, untold numbers of reptiles, birds, and insects, live amidst jungle flora and fauna just as they have for countless generations. Parts of the reserve consist of flood plains, rivers, streams, lakes and upland primary forest each supporting rich localized ecosystems.

Continuing his involvement with eco-tourism Davarian is a logistics consultant for wildlife expeditions and spiritual retreats.

With his passion for conservation Davarian, when not in Peru, lives outside of Lexington, Kentucky, with his wife, Drae, on a 30-acre homestead along with 3 dogs and 8 cats.

What first sparked your interest in the Peruvian Amazon?

It happened in 1954 in a Clearwater, Florida, movie theater. As a kid I sat glued to the screen–watching Creature From the Black Lagoon. Now, almost 60-years later, that spark has grown to a bonfire of curiosity and commitment for me to continually explore the Andes Mountains and Amazon Rainforest.

My first opportunity started one fortuitous evening on a Jamaican beach when I met a Spiritual Brother fresh from his travels in Peru. With a couple phone numbers, an Instamatic camera, an old backpack, and 5-words of Spanish I jumped a flight to find my own Black Lagoon.

The next 20-years felt as if I were a character in a Hemingway-meets-Hunter S. Thompson novel.

With the hospitality and friendship of Peruvians I went further to remote Andean communities and deeper up Amazon River tributaries. Each step of the way knowing a special new adventure, aloft the one before, was waiting along the next trail, around the next river bend.

With years of helping companies build and promote Amazon tourist lodges there was always the desire to have a place of my own in the Amazon.

Exploring a tribuatary: Photo by Gordon Wiltsie

But not a place dependent upon numbers of tourists being herded over rainforest trails leaving behind a carbon footprint the size of Big Foot.

Rather an isolated jungle home open to research people and serious nature lovers. A Home away from Home.

Aided by like-minded business partners I was sent on a quest to find a jungle location that is literally unexplored and unexploited. There, to build such a jungle-home in concert with nature. A place that would become the Amazon Refuge Wildlife Conservation Center surrounded by protected national reserves and on land owned by local Indians.

How did you first become involved with the community at San Juan de Yanayacu?

 In 2008 with my partners I encountered Juan Carlos Palomino, an English-speaking Peruvian working as a naturalist guide at a tourist lodge near Iquitos, Peru. The connection was immediate. Here is a man with an incredible knowledge of rainforest plants and animals. A man who grew up in a remote Indian community, went on to study biology, and, because of his assistance with research teams, he was awarded an Honorary Degree from Cornell University.

Juan Carlos is a member of the San Juan de Yanayacu Indian community, 200 Indians living on the remote Yanayacu de Yacapana River. The Indians have land title to portion of a 1-million acre primary rainforest National Reserve. An area that has never been completely explored.

Just past the community Juan Carlos had a thatched roof river front camp. No human population beyond.

With an invitation from Juan Carlos our community visits brought us awareness that the Indians were part of their own “conservation initiative.” They had long ago given up using blowguns to hunt monkeys and birds. Without an international organization telling them the definition of “Conservation,” they truly feel themselves as being part of the ecosystem, a rainforest commune inhabited by creatures great and small.

The community’s livelihood is fishing and, as with many remote Indian communities, without a medical post, schoolteacher, or clean drinking water.

With the cooperation and support of the San Juan de Yanayacu Indians, a piece of land was granted the to Amazon Refuge for the construction of our research and conservation center. The Indians further agreed that no future construction would be allowed upriver from the Amazon Refuge except for small research posts that would be under the control of Amazon Refuge.

Construction started in 2009 to turn Juan Carlos’ camp into a complex to provide safe, comfortable accommodations under the guidance of expert naturalist guides for visiting scientists, birders, and photographers.

And to offer a rewarding learning environment to student and volunteer groups, and nature lovers who wish to experience the true splendor of the Amazon rainforest.

 http://amazonrefuge.com/

What are the basic needs of the community?

Immediate needs of the community include clean drinking water, good medical care, and installing composting toilets.

For education a school for the young children is needed along with supplies and volunteers to visit as teachers.

For drinking water we are currently providing special water filters through a program with Waves For Water, a non-profit organization:

 www.wavesforwater.org/clean-water-couriers/

For a longer term water supply a two-tiered water tower is in planning that filtrates and chlorinates a large volume of water.

Fund raising is underway so that a medical clinic can be built and used by volunteer medical professionals through our alliance with Project Amazonas, a nonprofit medical organization:

 What is your organization specifically hoping to accomplish?

The Mission of the Amazon Refuge includes providing employment and education for the local people so they may live productive, healthy, and sustainable lives, in harmony with nature.

And to strengthen the rainforest ecosystem of the Yanayacu area by facilitating sound conservation principles and supporting protection of the community reserve.

What challenges do you face working in a remote jungle?

We are in constant flux with Mother Nature in the Amazon: The rainforest is an ever-changing dynamic system that is both a blessing and a challenge. From yearly river flooding, summer rainwater flowing down from the Andes Mountains, that in the extreme can wash away Indian homes, to dry seasons when water supplies are ammonia-laced from decaying vegetation.

Flooded village

On the flip side flooding brings the much-needed nutrients that then sustain the rain forest vegetation.  The dry season allows animal migration between islands of permanent terra firma.

In the last two years these extremes have been magnify with record-breaking floods followed by rivers becoming small streams.

To adapt to these extremes the San Juan de Yanayacu Indians need homes that are elevated off the rainforest floor higher than anticipated flood levels. And for drinking water a purification system that can eliminate large amounts of ammonia.

How can a person now help the community?

Money and advocacy of course!

Make a donation through our non-profit partner, Project Amazonas, and get a tax deduction:

 www.projectamazonas.org/donation-to-area-of-greatest-need

In order to support the cause we need support in perpetuity. Visit Us!  Bring your family and friends to see for yourselves the Amazon rainforest and meet the San Juan de Yanayacu Indians.

Gather a small group from your fraternal, social, or professional societies. Bring your students for an educational experience of a lifetime.

Come to Teach and Learn: Help with our Organic Garden Sustainable Food Project, teaching English, aiding with health services, or give assistance to Indian guides for a Wildlife Census.

What do you see for the future in Yanayacu?

My vision is to bring together an international community of 50, 100 or more people, who like myself share a desire to bring stability, hope, and resources to the San Juan de Yanayacu Indians. And to protect a rainforest habitat that is home to more species of mammal than any other place on Earth.

With their assistance we can pass the word to friends and co-workers, network with research organizations, universities, and medical volunteer organizations, and disseminate information through their Facebook and community web pages. And perhaps use whatever professional skills they have for such things as fundraising, grant writing, and web site development.

With such an international community of supporters the funds would become available to:

Improve the San Juan de Yanayacu homes.

Build a medical clinic complete with emergency supplies.

Arrange visits by doctors/nurses, and dentists.

Build a school building and hire a teacher.

Construct a reliable drinking water system.

Install composting toilets in Indian homes.

Build guard posts within the community reserve to prevent poaching.

In return donors receive not only a tax deduction, but also have use of the Amazon Refuge as a “Home away from Home” while time permits, so they can Teach and Learn.

With Vision, imagination, and perseverance our Spirit becomes the guide that gives our children and grandchildren the opportunity to find their own Black Lagoon.

 

 

My first trip to Aitutaki was for our honeymoon two years ago. George and I had wanted to visit there before but it was the first time the dice of price allowed it to happen! Our two weeks in the Cook Islands included kayaking, hammock swinging and two trips to the incredible jewel- toned Aitutaki Lagoon with Teking Tours.

Kit Herring of the Backpacker’s Handbook was recently there for a glorious third time and offered to share his historical knowledge of this spectacular location. Enjoy!

A Concise History of First Contact inAitutaki and the South Pacific
The area near Arutanga today

When Captain William Bligh let go the anchor of the Bounty off thewest coast of Aitutaki a few days before the famous mutiny, he beheld an islandand a culture far different than we can possibly understand today.  He didnot visit the whole island, but rather only the area loosely termedArutanga.  Always a meticulous diarist, he recorded some interestingfacts.  Of the natives in Tahiti he had written, “Inclination seemsto be the only binding law, marriage in this country for a woman will get her ahusband if she pledges…”

He continues about the inhabitants of Aitutaki, “The people are justthe same as those of the…Isles…  but are more docile and inoffensive.”
The account from his logbook of the discovery reads as follows:
“At daylight however we discovered an island of a moderate height witha round conical hill…A number of small Keys were seen from the mast.”

Maungapu, the tallest hill on the island

“They were all around with trees and the large island had a mostfruitful appearance.  The shore was bordered with flat land, withinnumerable Cocoa Nut and other trees.  I saw no smoke or any sign ofinhabitants.”

He writes that, “(T)hey called this island Whytootackee, ” andthat upon his first meeting with the natives, “I was however agreeablysurprised by a visit from four men in a single canoe… Two of the men had eacha large Mother of Pearl shell hung on their breasts… On being told I was theErree (chief), the principal person immediately came and joined noses with meand presented me his shell and tyed it around my neck… Notwithstanding theysaid there were no Hogs, Yarros, of tarrow… they called them by name, and Irather inclined to believe they were imposing upon me… The Chief of the canoetook possession of everything I had given… a knife, some nails, Beads and alooking glass.”

He goes on to say that two locals wished to overnight on his ship. Apparently some of his crew took the idea of immediate friendship in a ratherliberal sense.  “After the natives were gone I heard that some of myjohns had engaged to bring women off in the morning, and it was therefore thereason perhaps that two of them designed to sleep on board.”

Modern cultivation of yarrow (manioc)

We have no reason to disbelieve his observations.  Any navigator whosailed in an open boat, as Bligh did after the mutiny, over several thousandsof miles of the unexplored open Pacific to safety at the nearest Europeansettlement, Batavia, now the capital city of Jakarta in Indonesia,deserves respect and validation. Regardless of the circumstances that resultedin his being tossed from the Bounty with scant provisions by a crewthat had become enchanted with the terrible beauty of Polynesia, he was a manwho set forth to record all he saw.

But life on this tranquil outpost of Oceanic civilization received the firstof its death blows at his hands, although Bligh could not have understood thetragedy about to unfold when he touched shore. The story of the coming of themissionaries in 1821 is well known and does not need to be repeated here. The tales of forced conversion, the bringing of diseases and epidemics that the”Christians” blamed on the Polynesian gods, the later blackbirding ofthe population and the relentless efforts of the Europeans to stamp out the oldways — these stories are horrific and yet accepted today as a matter of course.

With their bodies’ physical beauty covered by the whites in heavynineteenth-century civilized clothing, the essence of the pre-contact nativeswas smothered irrevocably.  Today no oral traditions remain of that firstcontact, and the missionaries did nearly a complete job of eliminating the oldspirituality and the old ways.

Sydney Harbour from Montagu Roadstead;
Cook missed it but found Brush Island and Botany Bay

Photo by: John Porter

The author Jared Diamond has noted that perhaps the biggest mistakehumankind ever made was to quit the hunter/gatherer way of life and settle intotowns and cities, where manipulative leaders were then able to force stiflingsocietal rules and repression on hapless clans of formerly free people.

Whether or not this generalization holds much truth is still a matter ofdebate, but in Aitutaki the answer is painfully obvious.

Perhaps the wisest response we have to First Contact comes from the log ofJames Cook. Upon encountering the indigenous inhabitants of Australia for thefirst time, he recounted that they shouted at the English sailors anincomprehensible phrase. At the time no one in the explorers’ party understoodthe meaning of the words.  Later theywere found to impart a simple message: “Go away!”

Thanks for reading and for all your comments on our blog! 
Tell us: Where do you want to go next?


More from Lisa and George Rajna at: http://www.wesaidgotravel.com/

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Guest Post by: Kit Herring
Few people visit Algeria anymore because of internal strife, but I hitchhiked across the country in 1975.  Theses are some recollections of the country’s greatest archeological site, the Roman city of Timgad, as they appear in my novel, Descending the Cairo Side.  Here was once an African center of empire; today the ruins are empty and forlorn: 

    When I arrived at the nearby modern Algerian settlement, I found that accommodations were scarce. The only lodging proved to be arather expensive hotel. But I checked in, not wishing to camp in the open.  In the lobby I found a map of the ruins.
    After securing my belongings and now in astate of bemused contentment, I headed for the ruins, glad that a whole Romancity lay waiting for my investigations. A man at the gate collected a pittance as an entrance fee. It would havebeen interesting to see if the daily receipts even paid his salary. Certainly,there was not a single other tourist on site. I was completely alone at one of northern Africa’spremium archeological wonders.
    The foundations of the town lay ahead, butno buildings stood higher than about three feet.  I was somewhat disappointed, thinkingfoolishly that I would wander the streets of a nearly intact city. This was anaive fancy, of course. The ruins had been picked over for centuries as asource for quarrying stone, and no doubt looters and grave robbers had long agostolen anything of value that could be easily removed.
    I walked down a broad boulevard in thecenter. The dun-colored stone remains were, in their subtle, discreet fashion,magnificent.  A sense of orderliness andtidiness stood out. The city had been planned, much more carefully than wereany modern population centers in North Africa. It seemedthat the whole thing had been built from a central design.  Streets were laid in a grid, and the map Ihad showed the various public and private buildings, although it would havebeen hard to discern the function of most of the ruins.  On the surface, all was a jumble.
    It didn’t take long to tire of pickingthrough the low walls. There weren’t any interesting artifacts lying about, ofcourse, and little in the way of artwork. I was surprised at how fast boredom set in.  I felt like an unsatisfied and jaded seekerof lost history.


    Yet the scale of Timgadwas impressive. The stone-paved streets covered the better part of a squarekilometer.   Sitting down on top of acrumbling wall, I consulted the map again to see if there were otherinteresting spots.  I had noticed, abouta quarter of a mile away, a large structure that looked like a fortress or acastle.  It had a non-classical architecturalstyle to my unpracticed eye.  What wasthat?
    The structure loomed over the ruins like agiant crashed bird.  It was constructeddifferently from the rest of the city. Although much larger than any other of the stone remnants, it seemed, atthis distance, to have been put together from cruder materials.  I decided to have a peek.  It required a walk outside the perimeter ofthe Timgad ruins.  I read on my map that the fort dated fromByzantine times, which would account for its stylistic singularities.  It loomed more and more imposingly as Iapproached it.  As advertised, it indeedwas a kind of primitive castle. There was a wide entrance, some twenty feethigh, which once may have supported huge wooden doors.         
 The interior was dark. I pressed on, enteringthe portico, feeling my way through a great central hall.  The fortress was made entirely of small,roughly hewn rocks.  Its lines weresevere and utilitarian.  Above me theceiling faded into the darkness. Abruptly I tripped over a loose stone in the path, and a loud surprisednoise emerged from my throat.  Withoutwarning, a great host of bats swooped down from the recesses of the bulwarks,twittering and screeching their eerie cries. I ducked instinctively as theyswirled and swooped around me like miniature dive-bombers.  It was quite unnerving and I panicked,looking for a speedy exit.  They flewthrough my hair, brushing against my face. I had a flashing thought of rabidanimals covering me with tiny painful bites and sprinted for the exit. The batsdecided not to follow, but I continued running blindly for a hundred yards,finally coming to rest on the base of a column. The cries of the bats werestill audible from within the gloom.


    I panted, staring back at the Byzantinefort.  This was not part of the bargain.God, bats!  I looked around the area fora time, bewildered.  The fun had gone outof this expedition. Making my way back to the ruins in the city, I attempted tobusy myself studying the vestiges of Roman life, but my curiosity had taken ablow.  It felt as though I had beenrejected by this place, that it had no connection for me.  I kicked a few stones around a small plaza,trying to decide what it all signified. I considered what I knew about Roman history.  The usual schoolboy facts.  Great conquerors, leaders, civilizers. Butthe stories from my youth no longer seemed relevant.  An idea occurred to me, courtesy of theattacking bats.  Maybe the Romans wereprecursors of a continuum of evil in Europe, proto-nazisfrom the ancient age. What had they accomplished in subduing and controllingtheir piece of the known world?  Surely,their art, literature and culture counted greatly in the progression of humanknowledge, but in the final analysis, their ruins were haunted places, theabodes of night creatures. They enslaved vast regions and peoples in theirquest for dominance.  The glories oftheir conquests had long withered, leaving nothing but relics of brutality andfear that gave proof to the lie about empires. 
    The legions of Romerepresented a great leap backward for humanity. The modern history books had it wrong. I walked away from the archeological site, toward the modern town of Timgad,vowing never again to set foot on Roman territory.
From Lisa and George, We Said Go Travel:
Thank you to Kit for this guest post! More from him at http://thebackpackershandbook.com/ 
Read about his book, Descending the Cairo Side:
http://www.wesaidgotravel.net/2010/10/hitchhiker-on-road.html
More travel news and stories from us here next week.  
Want more right now? Go to: www.wesaidgotravel.com
Ready to travel? Go on the Summit this summer with the Penn Glee Club!

We asked our friend Kit, whom we met in the Cook Islands, if he wanted to write something for our blog.  He took a sudden detour through the past to bring us his account of crossing the Indian Ocean at Christmas time, 1975.

Kenya to India: Memories and an Old Friend from the S.S. Karanja by Kit Herring

You never know what you’ll find these days when you turn on the computer.  Recently my email showed a comment from a reader of my blog, The Backpacker’s Handbook.  The writer, a guy named Steve who was originally from the UK but who now resided in New Zealand, indicated that he was  on the Christmas 1975 trip of the Karanja from Mombasa to Bombay and he was wondering if I had been present during the same voyage.


1) The Karanja in 1948, pride of the British India Line (image courtesy of The Ocean Liner Virtual Museum, UK)
I had posted a scan of a document that passengers who booked third class were obliged to sign – although I never did – relieving the ship owners from responsibility pertaining to the mixing of races below decks. The document was a real piece of work and had survived in my possession all these years.  Along with the paperwork I mentioned that I had traveled on the vessel. Steve had found my post somehow and was motivated to write back.
That memorable trip on the Karanja, across the Indian Ocean from Africa to South Asia, had also included a four day stop-over in Karachi.  Steve remembered not only me but my friend Tony, along with a long list of travelers on the trip.  Amazing. 
The Karanja had started the passage a few days before Christmas, sailing from the port of Mombasa.  As I recall, she didn’t sail very often and so I had waited out the time for the trip in a remote ocean-front cottage some miles north of the city.


2) View of the Indian Ocean from the house in the bushA plethora of interesting critters called the tidal flats in front of the beach home. Many of them were venomous
The voyage itself was festive enough and included a wild Christmas Eve dance in first class.  Luckily for us travelers the South African ship’s officers were not inclined to enforce the rules regarding the mingling of races, as long as said mingling was conducted only by whites.  And I still remember the bar in the restaurant. We were able to buy all the duty-free booze we coveted, and the shop was run by a pleasant Indian fellow, whom Steve reminded me was often quite soused himself.
I also recall the lifeboat drill just after we left Mombasa.  The whites scurried to the proper stations with haste, while all the Asians remained on their bunks, wondering what the fuss was about.  It was a great introduction to Indian fatalism.
At night we used to go up on deck and listen to the Asians onboard making music under the stars with their homemade instruments, a lovely and spiritual experience.
In Karachi we spent the days wandering the city streets, our first glimpse of the complexities of the sub-continent. Everyone in the city seemed to be extremely friendly and I quickly became entranced.
The only negative vibes I witnessed during the ten or twelve days it took to cross the sea occurred while in Karachi, in fact.  Another South African, this one a passenger, couldn’t handle all the “wogs” he saw dockside.  He actually took a bucket of soapy water he found somewhere and heaved it over the side of the ship, in full view of myself and a number of other people, dousing the Pakistani longshoremen below.  An unrepentant racist, he was quickly manhandled by officers onboard and taken to the brig.  I never saw him again.  His vitriol had been non-stop and we were glad to be rid of him.
Finally the ship docked in Bombay and we parted ways from our Indian fellow passengers and from the other travelers. I did run into Steve one time in Delhi, he tells me, but frankly, my recollection of the meeting has been lost to history.
It’s nice to know that the Internet has made the world smaller.  How easily forgotten are the travels and travails of our youth.


3) The Para Ganj from my Delhi hotel room, coffee stains and all

We hope you enjoyed this post by Kit. More from him at:  The Backpacker’s Handbook

More from us: next week! We have some exciting news to share with you in the coming weeks!!
Check back for updates from Lisa and George.

We hope you will join us March 24, 7pm for a Travel Talk: Uncovering Jewish Morocco. There will be photos, music, information and food.

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Article first published as A Hitchhiker on the Road on Technorati.

Descending the Cairo Side, a novel of the traveling life by Kit Herring

Morocco doorDanny White is a young man who falls off the continent of Europe into Morocco, becoming a true vagabond. He begins his story in Descending the Cairo Side, “I didn’t know how long the journey would take, what exactly my route would be, or with whom I might share the adventure. I took no guide books; any expectations obtained from advance research would only hinder the spontaneous nature of the experience.” His meandering tour introduces him to culture and memorable places including campsite, sweaty bus rides, new lovers and new friends.
Kit Herring’s first novel inspired me to take a camel safari in Merzouga, Morocco and will inspire the reader to think about travel, to get out and travel and to read more about travel and political situations. 
Herring’s work reminds the reader of Paul Theroux’s books where the traveler’s senses are inspired by lush surroundings. When he writes: “The shouts of children and touts, calls from the muzzeins in the mosques, throbbing antique motors, and a complete din of human activity all assaulted my ears. I was completely  entranced…” I wanted to be in that scene. While reading, I had to remind myself the story was not yet a movie.camel safari merzouga
Herring skillfully shows us situations and travelers who make a large range of choices and have run-ins with locals, police and other nefarious characters. Danny White’s conclusion that “the law does not care to distinguish intentions from actions, and we are judged not by how we see ourselves, but rather by what effects our actions have on others,” could be about the law in any country and how we fit into our own society or another we are visiting in our travels.
Descending the Cairo Side grapples with choices we all must make whether we stay at home or choose to travel. And whom we choose to love. What actions are worthy of our time and attention? As a society, we often feel constrained to make the correct choices without landmarks for what is right and wrong. At a time when so many people spend their time in online communities with no human contact, it is refreshing to read about characters boldly setting out to discover new territory in far away lands. In the end, Herring tells us more about who we are and where we started from, than about the new lines we draw on our map. 
EssoouiraWhile traveling we learn about ourselves and while he says, “so never mind the insecurities and fear. Sometimes trusting strangers is the best option of all,” most travelers really learn to trust themselves. I relate so well when he says, “Who can say what happens when we interrupt our lives with new choices and take a sudden detour?” Travel allows us the opportunity not only to explore new places but new parts of ourselves, to fully become the person we are meant to be. 
Descending the Cairo Side, published for the first time this month (October 2010), is available as an e-book on Amazon.com.