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Vote!!!!!!

If you’re a US citizen eligible to vote…then please do so. This election is too important to ignore. It’s a referendum on what we as Americans stand for.

Enough said.

Yogyakarta: Two Trips Are Always Better Than One

 

 

I recently visited Yogyakarta, Indonesia for the second time due to a Muslim holiday. The three day weekend reminded me about the best part of Indonesia: the plurality of religions. My dear friend from Belgium came to visit me in Indonesia, so I had to get her out of Jakarta and to the UNESCO World Heritage sites that are known as Borobudur and Prambanan. While Borobudur is a Buddhist temple and the other is Hindu, both are places I can visit every year. I’m blessed to have now walked in the shadows of Machu Picchu, magnificent churches, Uluru and my mother, and I can confidently say that Borobudur is one of my favorite spiritual places.

The mixing of religions is ever-present in Indonesia. Where else can you leave a Buddhist or Hindu temple only to see huge trucks moving oxen that would be slaughtered for a Muslim holy day?

A more detailed piece will, hopefully, be published on a travel site soon so stay tuned!

 

Costa Rica: A Photo Collage

My mom and I recently took a trip to Costa Rica to honor our “special birthdays ending in zero,” as my school likes to call them. Bluntly put, I turned 30 and my mom turned 60. I never understood women who wanted to hide their age. It’s old-fashioned and ridiculous in my mind…and I’m coming from Texas.

Age and aging is something that should be celebrated. Ten years ago I left the United States for Australia, my first time ever leaving the continental part of my country. As a 30 year old, I have now been to 14 countries, which is miniscule to my well-traveled colleagues but a lot to me and my family.

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Costa Rica would be the first time my mom ever left the States; the first time she ever tasted fresh pineapple and papaya at their peak of ripeness because they didn’t have to be shipped to the States; the first time she saw an entire family of four on a motorcycle because….well, people have places to go.

And she loved every minute ot if.

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At her suggestion, we went with Caravan’s all-inclusive tour. Though some people may turn their noses up at all-inclusive travel, I say travel how you want to. My mom loved it, which meant I adored it, and it was nice to not have to worry about connections or anything.20160713_163513

If the pictures are any indication, Costa Rica is a beautiful country of volcanos and beaches, sloths and butterflies, Alice-in-Wonderland-esque gardens and beauty. I definitely look forward to returning!

Have you ever been to Costa Rica? What are your opinions on the best ways to travel? All-inclusive or independent?

Terrorist Attack in Jakarta

For those that have been contacting me to make sure I’m OK, thank you. I am. I was at work (quite far from the area) when the terrorist attacks occurred.

Without sounding trite, all I can say is to pray for those affected and for a better world. This cannot become our new world order. We all deserve better.

White House Seeks to Soothe Relations with Venezuela

I said earlier that Obama declaring Venezuela a national security threat was a mistake. Now the US is backtracking. I think that’s good, even if the US has lost some face. The US does not need to flame the anti-US fire that the official Venezuelan government has latched onto as a means of diverting attention from the country’s protracted state of crisis.

You know what my first billboard sign was when returning to Venezuela from Peru?

“Venezuela no es una amenaza somos esperanza.”

Rough translation: Venezuela is not a threat. We’re hope.

I couldn’t help but get annoyed. I was lugging back soap, shampoo, coffee, and diapers for co-workers because you can’t find items here in Venezuela, and this is the sign atop a hill. I spotted two of them actually.

The government can get those billboards posted in the hills for all kingdom come to see, but they can’t get the shelves stocked over here? You can’t walk with your plastic shopping bags without people looking in them and asking where you got the lotion, deodorant, pads, etc…

One random Saturday morning I gave away two packs of pads to a woman in my building who queried about where I found them and a bottle of lotion (one of two I had picked up) to a woman in the store. The lotions I grabbed were the last two in the store because…lotion is hard to come by.

I bring EVERYTHING I need while abroad from the US: toilet paper, feminine hygiene products such as pads and tampons, lotion, soap, shampoo, the works.

And this is the sign that takes priority?

As my time here in Venezuela nears an end, my patience is wearing thin. I honestly think a person has to live it to see what’s going on. My mind is still boggled almost two years in…and I’m not really living the experience here. I’m protected by the privilege of being an American citizen. I’m not struggling, quite frankly, but everyone around me is.

Recently Maduro–the president of Venezuela–stated that all Americans had to have visas to enter Venezuela, effective immediately. I didn’t sweat it. I have a work visa here. I got asked for my visa when leaving and entering Venezuela for Semana Santa, but in no way, shape, or form was I harassed. It’s just unfortunate because it’s so political.

The embassy alerted us that Americans had been turned away from their flights as soon as the visa order came down, which I think is spiteful because there should’ve been some form of a grace period. It’s not as if there was a military attack that would’ve warranted shutting it all down with no questions asked. If I booked a trip months in advance and didn’t need a visa, I’m now supposed to get one in less than three days? That’s impossible.

Earlier this year, Maduro also demanded that the US slash its embassy staff in Caracas from 100 to 17. The rationale? That’s equal to the number of  Venezuelans stationed at the Venezuelan embassy in Washington.

Ummm…this number was manipulated, point blank, because it fails to include all of the Venezuelans working in embassies such as New York (where I had to go) and Houston (where I live when back in the States). There aren’t only 17 Venezuelan staff workers in the US. There are more like 43, but that’s the sloppy, manipulative argumentative style that’s common here that offends my intelligence and just wears me out as American trying to remain unseen (while being seen and heard because of my race and accent).

We–Americans living in Venezuela–also received an e-mail earlier this year because four Americans had been detained and weren’t allowed to contact the US embassy, which is against international law.

I’ve been silent on all of these issues because I don’t like to be negative in public spaces. I usually express my true feelings surrounding politics to my mom and my best friends. They’re rarely expressed to anyone else.

But, as a Venezuelan co-worker told me, you have a right to critique a government that is not your own.  I want to critique respectfully…just like I hope people do with me (and unlike one German man did when I was in Peru, but that’ll be for a later post)…but say something I must.

I LOVE the people here. I can’t stress that enough. They’re beautiful.

And they, all humans, deserve better.

Black Weblog Awards Final Voting Round Begins Today; Please Vote!

(Im)Migrating with a Purpose made it to the Black Weblog Awards’ final round in four categories: Best Writing in a Blog, Best Travel Blog, Best Blog Post Series, and Best International Blog!

The last leg of voting begins today. If you have enjoyed any of the blog’s segments–whether they were my recent travel posts about Puerto Rico, Belgium, and Australia; my reflections on mid-term elections and voter ID laws; or my attempts to incorporate primary sources and student podcasts into the classroomplease vote for the blog here.

Voting closes October 28th. If you’re anything like me (read: easily distracted with the bombardment of digital media) please take a couple of seconds now and vote.

When perusing the nominees’ blogs you’ll probably stumble upon a blog you didn’t know existed but enjoy. That has happened to me at least twice.

Again, thanks for all of the support, and I hope you vote for IWAP in the Black Weblog Awards!

 

 

 

To Vote or Not to Vote in Mid-Term Elections: It’s Not Even a Question

As I wrote yesterday’s post asking people to vote for my blog in the Black Weblog Awards’ semi-final nominations round, I had to reflect on something:

I’ve skipped out on voting before.

And the elections I skipped out on were for government seats, not blog accolades.

I can specifically remember walking home on a cold, dark evening that is November in the Northeast, pausing at the corner where my building huddled against another building as if to ward off the cold, and thinking that I could either trudge to the nearby school and vote or walk home.

I walked home.

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