Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
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My trip from Ecuador to South Africa was a long, but nice one. Leaving Ecuador was uneventful, though I had a heck of a time convincing them to let me take my knife on the plane (I had to find a big tube and stick it in that, and then send the tube, as they wouldn't just take a small package by itself). New York was, as always, a great time -- I've got to live here some day. The flight to Amsterdam just flew by, as we were in this huge plane with, that's right, a second floor. I of course wasn't on the second floor, but I did sneak up there to take a peek. I even flirted with a cute flight attendant, so it was a good time all around. The Amsterdam airport is simply incredible. Without a doubt the best airport I have yet to find, if for no other reason than they actually have areas with comfortable chairs designed for sleeping! Brilliant! (In New York I had to sleep, like everyone else, on the polished stone floor in the middle of this huge lobby.) Amsterdam, the city, looks to be a lot of fun, though I didn't spend enough time there to find out first hand. Finally, the flight from Amsterdam to South Africa was mostly devoted to sleep, which I got plenty of due to my obtaining an entire row for myself. Cha-ching!

Contrary to popular belief, I have not been abducted by Columbian guerillas, nor Amazon monkeys. Rather, I have been fighting a much more indidious evil: the evil of the Internet.

First, Ecuador is a great country but I will say this: it's connection to the Internet sucks. There are a thousand Internet cafes but, by and large, they're slow, expensive, very difficult to get working with my laptop, and inevitably die immediately after I get all hooked up. No me gusta.

So I go to New York city last night for a 12 hour stopover. I head to Manhattan, thinking "Surely Kinko's will hook me up darn good", only to find that the instant I plug my laptop into the Kinko's network, paper starts spitting uncontrollably out of a gigantic printer. After the worker berates me (after all, what idiot would think that the colorful Ethernet cable they have in their "laptop station" would actually connect to a network, like every other Kinko's in the world), I remember "Oh that's right, I'm... [more]
Outside our dark and sleepy plane, the sun was thawing the frozen sky in preparation for landing.
South Africa is a complex and fascinating country. Try as I might, and despite probing everyone I met, I just can't get a good grasp of what has happened, is happening, and will happen in this historically-volatile land. As best as I can figure, the past went something like this:

Thousands of years ago, native black tribes roamed the bush in a culture that has remained alive, uninterrupted, from the dawn of history to today - a feat only duplicated by the aborigines a continent away. Later, perhaps around 1000 AD, black tribes from the north pushed south in a slow, inexorable surge. Eventually, Europe learned that India could be reached by boat around the point, leading to the establishment of first trading posts and then settlements on the southernmost cape. This led to hammer-and-anvil effect as the northern black tribes and southern Europeans (primarily Dutch) pushed the more passive native inhabitants, through a combination of trade, coercion, deceit, and force, almost into extinction... [more]
Two weeks in Egypt, and I'm ready to go.

Now, I hate to complain, but boy I didn't enjoy Egypt. Or, rather, though I had a good time overall here, my joy had little to do with Egypt and mostly dealt with the people I met and time alone on my laptop.

From the moment I arrived in Cairo, I was being hustled by virtually everyone I met. I mean, everyone. Perhaps things are just really bad here (though I fail to see how they could be worse than South Africa with it's 45% unemployment, and they managed to have a fun place to visit), and perhaps their culture just places absolutely no emphasis on respecting a person's solitude, but damn it gets annoying being white in this country. And to be white and a woman -- that's something I just could not imagine.

After pushing off an AK-47-toting security guard at the airport trying to get me to stay at his buddy's hotel, a fellow traveler and I find our way to downtown and split a room. At the hotel our "friendly" receptio... [more]

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