Last month, while I was back in the States, I had the chance to participate in Queer Adventure Storytelling. It’s a monthly event were queer people can come together to tell and hear stories about a variety of adventures. It’s hosted by Jenny Bruso, who started the Unlikely Hikers Instagram account and Travis Clough of the Venture Out Project. I told the story of how I came to consider myself a hiker, and I thought I’d share that here.
When people think of Asia and religion, Buddhism is usually what comes to the forefront of most people’s minds. What many don’t always realize is that there are a different schools of thought within Buddhism. Zen Buddhism is pretty widely known, but the two sects that I’ve become familiar with through my travels are a bit less widely known. So, I’d like to explore some of the similarities and differences between Theraveda and Mahayana Buddhism.
I can’t think of anything that I love more about living abroad than getting to take part in cultural festivals. I love that Winneba, where I live in Ghana, has some wonderful annual festivals: Aboakyer and Fancy Dress. When I heard about what many people call Fire Festival in the North, I knew I had to go.
One thing I’ve heard many visitors say about their time in Ghana is, “It’s so colorful!” It seems like life here is extra vibrant, with many of the container stores being painted bright colors. However, I think the one part of daily life that is extra colorful are people’s custom-made clothes from African-print fabrics.
São Tomé and Príncipe are two small islands in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Central Africa. Geologically, the oldest dated rock dates to 31 million years ago. Until the Portuguese landed on the islands around 1470, they were uninhabited. Today, nearly 200,000 people who call themselves Santomean, but where did these people come from?
I’ve seen in some rankings and lists that Ghana is often among the most religious countries in the world. Living here, it’s not that difficult to believe. Many shop names mention God or Allah or reference a Bible passage. One of the first questions I get asked when I meet new people is often, “What religion are you?” And on Sunday mornings, life slows down considerably and the air is filled with the singing and preaching from the dozens of churches. Religious beliefs are very much a part of life here, and there’s an interesting break-down.
Just a few days ago, “First They Killed My Father” began streaming on Netflix. The movie, based on the book with the same name, follows the story of a girl who is forced to become a child solider while her family is sent to labor camps under the rule of the Khmer Rouge. The other famous film about this time in Cambodian history is “The Killing Fields,” that tells the true story of a journalist and his interpreter. While the genocide in Cambodia that occurred from 1975 to 1979 under the rule of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge may be generally known, the legacy of that time that stretches into the present is much less so.
A few weeks ago, my friend and co-worker gave birth to her first child – a baby girl. This was pretty exciting, as it is culturally a good sign for her to have a baby so soon after her wedding, and I was excited because it meant I had a chance to take part in some of the cultural practices around welcoming a new baby. These traditions are commonly called naming ceremonies.
The heat of the Sinai bears down from the cloudless sky all around me while the Red Sea glitters. I drop my bag on the ground and sink into the low cushions underneath a palm frond canopy. “Would you like some tea?” a man in a white jelabaya offers me. Normally, the heat would put me off from a hot drink, however I take him up on his offer. It’s the first of many cups I will drink over the coming days.