I’ve had the great pleasure of an abundance of international travel, including many third-world countries. I’ve visited Africa twice, visiting four different countries while there. I’ve been honored by being welcomed into tribal villages in the Samburu region of Kenya where people lived in houses made of dried dung. I visited an orphanage in Rwanda where kids would be thrilled to have a home built of dung.
The President of the United States can’t treat the world like it is a business. He must have some level of diplomacy, compassion, experience, and sophistication to interact with people from other countries and cultures. President Trump has indeed traveled a lot. I’m sure he’s been to more than the 15 countries I’ve visited, but I fear he’s only seen their golf courses and only stayed in his own hotels. If that is the case, he isn’t well-traveled at all. He’s just experienced his own brand in many different places. He seems fearful of other cultures, practices and especially foods.
When I travel, I avoid chain hotels or restaurants. I want the local experience as much as possible. I’ve eaten zebra and lion in Kenya. I once dined on a guinea pig in Peru. I’ve eaten things abroad I would never order in the states. All because I want to have an authentic experience of where I am.
The village in Kenya that I mentioned previously was the childhood home of our guide. He offered to take us there because he could tell my wife and I were genuinely interested in his country. For every child under six years old, that was there; we were the first white people they had ever seen. And having a shaved head, which I do, meant that I was a king. We saw a goat being born. I chased children with my video camera. We all laughed hysterically looking at them on the viewscreen. We distributed pens and notebooks we brought from back home to their one-room school. We loved our few hours in this village with “nothing.”
Never during my visit to that village, nor all of Africa, did I ever think to myself, “What a shithole country. What useless people there are here.” I saw more happiness, more pride, more love of life in the faces of citizens in the third-world than I do most days in the United States. I’ve seen people across Africa and South America who have nothing, but we would be lucky to have them join us in the USA. If our leaders did a wee bit more than eat fast-food or play golf in other countries, they might realize that too.
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Photo credit: Lori Grant