Sunday, February 07, 2010

Stuck in transit - Columbus, Ohio

If you are checking in to see my first Africa post, you might be disappointed because although I was supposed to leave three days ago, due to the DC snowstorm, I have only made it to Columbus, Ohio, where I am stuck in transit. (Long story.) Of course I am an equal opportunity people watcher and I've never been to Columbus before so I took the airport guys rec and got a hotel near the Easton Town Center, a huge fancy sprawling mall, and spent the afternoon walking around and observing Americans in their native environment.

To say that this is a contrast to what I thought I would be seeing right about now on the streets of Dakar is a huge understatement.

Ever since I began spending real amounts of time in the developing world, I have had a very hard time with American's conspicuous consumption. Once I met people with only one set of clothes or others who can fit all their valuable possessions in one small locked box and wear the the key proudly around their neck, I really began to question the need for things that Americans feel. We somehow gauge our worth on what we own, versus the more important things in life like our families and our friends and the natural beauty around us and its something that I can't quite wrap my head around.

The contrast of spending these few hours in capitalist, sprawling, shopping heaven felt like an anthropological journey into what it means to be American and will certainly serve as a contrasting reminder during the rest of my trip.

Photo: the view from my hotel window of the Easton Town Center, which really is pretty in its own way.

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