Travel Lessons

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You know you are truly on vacation when you are walking around with nothing in your pockets.

Americans are not known for their cuisine. French, Italian, Mexican or Chinese yes, but American no. But we did give the world one iconic dish that is more ubiquitous than even pizza. That is a hamburger and French fries. Not only are there McDonald’s and Burger Kings everywhere, but you can also go to the most remote place and find the meal on the menu. Assuredly, Americans are not the only ones eating this fabulous meal. It is best to add cheese, check first in other countries because they certainly don’t have American cheese.  

At the excellent Qatar airport (and excellent airline), we were awaiting another flight. The country has created some controversy for treatment of its foreign workers building stadiums for the 2022 World Cup.

We encountered workers from all over the world at the airport, but not one was from Qatar. It was a virtual United Nations as we spoke to employees from far flung locales. Whether they were from Nepal, Bangladesh or Kenya, they all spoke English clearly.  Only in the United States is it not a requirement to speak clear English to get a job. This is especially true if you work for a tax agency that is a division of California government.

One of the best experiences of traveling is meeting fellow travelers from other countries. While at our country inn in Arusha (near Mt. Kilimanjaro) prior to our Serengeti safari, we struck up a conversation with Melvin who described himself as from the United Kingdom. Melvin had a Scottish accent. He happened to be at this place while on a three-week trip that had stretched to five months. Quite a fascinating character was Melvin. It is always amazing what people will tell perfect strangers they never expect to ever see again.  

Our vacation truly began as we reached the southeast part of the vast Serengeti. Going on safari is an amazing experience for those of you who have not been. You have not really lived until a male lion (you know the king of the forest and that is no joke) just casually walks by your jeep (a converted Toyota Landcruiser), stops and marks (pees) on the front of your vehicle then just walks off.  

We visited both Tanzania and Uganda. We saw other parts of Tanzania other than the Serengeti. It is truly a third world country. An estimated 68% of the people live in poverty. A couple of points. 1) I do not see our Democrat friends clamoring to allow hundreds of thousands of people from Tanzania into our country. Africans are highly successful in America.

Tanzanians who live in poverty are in real poverty; not the fake poverty we have in America. In America, a typical person in poverty has a cell phone, a car, a place to live, indoor plumbing, a TV or two, a dishwasher, etc. Their poverty level is calculated without reflecting transfer payments such as food stamps or subsidized housing. They would be considered upper middle-class in Tanzania.  The point is whether you are poor or better off in America, you should thank your lucky stars every day that you live in our great country.  

When Tanzania was formed in 1964, the new leader decided to make an especially important decision. He determined that having a country with 125 different languages associated with different tribes would never unite the country. He picked Swahili as the national language. It is taught in all the schools and has become the uniting force for all Tanzanians.  

Which brings to question why in modern America there is a group of people who encourage certain ethnic groups to maintain their native language as a primary means of communication.  The idea of English as a Second Language (ESL) is patently absurd. Particularly when the entire world uses English as the common language of commerce. The proponents of using a native language instead of a common language that has united America for over 200 years are only harming the people they purport to help.  

We spent two weeks in Africa almost exclusively with Black people. Not once did the words “White Privilege” or “Systemic Racism” or “Critical Race Theory” come up. I told a couple people that African immigrants to the United States do better in America than native born Americans.  They were surprised they had never heard that.

Prior to our trip I had concluded that the Black community in the U.S. has two problems. The first is life decisions they make. The second is white liberals enabling them to make those errant decisions.  Until they have more leaders in their communities telling them to stop blaming others and they stop listening to the white liberals who caused many of their problems by enabling them, they will continue to point fingers at others for the challenges they can overcome.  

Let me leave you with my favorite travel story among the many great stories from visiting over 75 countries. I was at one of my very favorite places, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul which covers over 61 streets and contains more than 4,000 shops. I exited the marketplace and, as usual, vendors approach to make a sale. These vendors all speak English regardless of where one is in the world. So, I switch to Spanish. I say “no habla Ingles; se habla Espanol?  (I don’t speak English; do you speak Spanish?). Most vendors are stumped and just walk away. This time I got about ten feet past the vendor and he yelled at me, “You are an American.” I thought to myself I am not wearing any identifying clothing. I turned around and walked right up to him and got in his face.  I then warmly said “How did you know?” He said, “Because you smiled.  Americans smile. Europeans don’t.”

That is why Americans are loved all over the world.  Both in Tanzania and Uganda the people told us their favorite guests were Americans. Just like what we have experienced almost everywhere — they want American tourists more than ones from other countries. They love our good cheer and openness.  

So, get your Covid shots and get on an airplane to Africa or anywhere. You will be warmly greeted. They miss us and want us to come back in droves. God, is it great to be an American.


This article was published on May 15, 2021 in Flash Report and is reprinted with permission from the author.


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