Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Your travel will be more enjoyable if you think about the things you enjoy most."

My trip to Ecuador. The only touristy thing I i did was get a picture taken of me with one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other foot in the southern hemisphere.

Hanging out in PerĂº's black community of El Carmen.

Bill Smith  
Oakland, CA

1. What message do have for students who want to travel?
Your travel will be more enjoyable if you think about the things you enjoy most. For example, I travel to like PerĂº and Cuba because I enjoy their music.

2. What are your childhood memories of travel ?
My father had me traveling since I was a child. He not only took us around New York City where I was raised, but to other states and two Canadian provinces.

3. Where did you dream of traveling when you were a child?
Spain, because I started teaching myself Spanish out of a children's library book; not realizing there were more than 15 Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas.

4. Did you travel as a child?
See #2---geez, what's with all these childhood questions?

Riding a bicycle taxi in Havana, Cuba.

5. What did you learn as a child about the expectation for black people to
My father wanted me to be different from your average black by being exposed to travel. He always lamented that most black people in Harlem, where I grew up, never been out of the city.

6. Did you admire or know of any Black people that traveled when you were a
Only a few! --geez, what's with all these questions about childhood? I'm getting weary of this.

7. Why should Black people travel?
More exposure to the world; a broader awareness. I know too many black people who don't get out of the communities, let alone their hometown. There are too many blacks who see Africa as a one big country and not a continent containing many different cultures, languages, and “colors” other than black.

The block where I stayed in Cartagena Colombia.

8. What was your first trip?
My first domestic trip was from New York to Los Angeles. My first international trip was to Montreal.

9. How did you plan for it?
I wound up on Los Angeles as a result of parent rivalry, separation, and divorce. My father planned the trip to Montreal for a Thanksgiving vacation.

10. What was your experience there?
a) positive experience -
People in Montreal were very nice to us visiting Americans. It was interesting to see a foreign experience.

b) negative experience-
In Los Angeles, I got a taste of how children feel when they are dumped into childcare by busy parents. There was nothing negative about Montreal.

11. Was your travel experience what you expected?

12. How is your travel experience as a Black traveler different from what
you perceive as a White traveler?
These days, I pride myself in being a different type of traveler. Because I'm constantly working to improve my Spanish, I avoid touristy hotels and activities. I mix right in with the locals as much as possible, especially in black communities of Latin America.
Passing through El Salvador

13. What is your voice as a Black travel blogger?
African American-Latin World
I expose to the world the history and experience of black people in Latin American communities here and abroad.

14. Where do you dream of traveling now? Why?
My next trip is not a dream. I'm going to Venezuela in December and spend some time in their black community, then blog about it.