Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Look who I saw?

I spent today sitting outside the UN watching world presidents and their entourage's go in and out of the big annual General Assembly gathering that is happening this week and look who I saw!!! Yes, its EVO Morales. We shouted out a "hola" to him and got a very happy "hola" back. Ahh.... Beautiful Bolivia! Its especially fun because I didn't get to see him in person when I was in Bolivia earlier this year but I did get to see lots of propaganda photos of him all over. He looks the same in real life! : )

Its days like these that make New York a pretty damn cool place to live! 80 world leaders are here. Motorcades are crossing the city and the sidewalks are filled with people from every country. Although I really don't know what world leaders we saw, I did confirm seeing the president of the Dominican Republic and the president of Portugal. We saw massive motorcades with Sarkosy from France and Merkel from Germany. Besides that it was just tons of people who looked like they were someone.

Sometimes its cool to know that I don't have to get on a plane to see the world!


Later on the Daily Show with John Stewart it turned out that my cousin Charlie was Evo's translator!

Evo Morales on the Daily Show with John Stewart

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Iran??? Why Iran???

If all goes according to schedule, in less than three weeks I'll be on a flight to Tehran. People keep asking me why I'm going to Iran or they give me a strange look. I realize that there is a serious verbal war between our presidents. I realize that its certainly a land virtually unknown to our country. I realize its not a "normal" place to go. But for me it seems like just the kind of place I like to travel.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Woodward Dream Cruise - Detroit, August 2007

Well we are all familiar with the phrase "when in Rome, do what the Romans do" I really try to take that to heart whenever I travel anywhere. This has led me to fun festivals and different local experiences all over the world, as well as a deeper understanding of the community that I am visiting. Which takes to my recent trip to Detroit, Michigan.

Whats the first thing people think of when they hear Detroit? Cars! Yes, the good old American car. So on a recent journey to visit my friend Paula, who lives there, I planned it to coincide, for the second year in a row, with the Woodward Dream Cruise, the largest classic car cruise in the world!

First off, many of you are probably like me, and you may not know much about the classic car show and cruise scene. People drive (or ship) their beautifully refurbished cars to show and share with others. You have probably seen parking lots filled with car shows, but chances are you have never experienced anything like the Dream Cruise.

It goes like this. Woodward Avenue is the main drag from Detroit to the outer suburbs and once a year it fills from Detroit to Pontiac with every imaginable classic car and plenty of theme cars too. 40,000 classic cars cruise up and down the 16 mile stretch, while crowds line the roads to watch. In between cruising, the owners park their cars so that others can come check them out. Businesses set up party tents. Parking lots are filled with bands. Car loving fans set up chairs along the roadside and folks like me walk for miles watching and enjoying some good old American fun.

Its time in this write up to add the disclaimer that I don't have a car and feel
pretty darn proud about it. I worry about our gas-guzzling society and wonder how much fossil fuel use is contributing to the wacky weather we are having these days. That being said after my trip to Cuba, I fell in love with the classic American car. I love their curves, their grace, their colors. I love the romance of the 50's and big bucket seats. I love the personal historical memory that is stirred when I see a Nova or Mustang. I'm constantly hunting for clues of what it means to be an American and these cars are part of it. They represent the freedom of the road. To me the Woodward Dream Cruise transports me to places I've learned about.

Friday, September 07, 2007

And a Word About Detroit

It doesn't seem right to tell you about the Dream Cruise without letting you know about what Detroit is like these days. Through the eyes of my friend Paula, I have been able to see a different Detroit then the one I expected. Detroit is on an upswing. It is being reborn. Downtown has been rebuilt and refurbished. Old buildings are being restored and turned into high end condos. The automotive money brought elaborate architecture that is being cleaned up. Grand tiled ceilings are shining again.

Young professionals are moving in. Bars are following them and popping up on every corner. Black and white professionals mix in hip environs. New baseball and football stadiums have been built right in the middle of downtown. A promenade has been built on the waterfront. Parks have been planted. A few miles from downtown, tree and mansion lined streets display Detroit's regal past. One by one these houses are being refurbished to their original grandeur.