I live in an old tobacco town. I haven’t lived here all my life. In fact, Charlotte, North Carolina, a beautiful city in itself, is my hometown. But for the past four years Winston has been home.
We’re a fairly busy family, so we haven’t explored much of this city even though we live in the heart of the historic district. This morning we decided to drive around and look at the old vestiges of what brought this city massive, unbelievable wealth in the early twentieth century and still does: tobacco!
R. J. Reynolds is still headquartered here. Many of the old tobacco factories have now been turned into residential lofts with high ceilings and prodigious windows and the big tobacco plants have long since moved away from the area. It’s still interesting that a lot of America’s smoking history is housed right down the street from us and I’ve never taken a moment to give it a second look until today.
Old train tracks that brought the tobacco to and from the factory.
…and I will be back in Ethiopia.
Going to Africa is a little second nature for me now. This will be my eighth time traveling to the Continent in three years and my third time traveling to Ethiopia, one of the countries I truly love! I will be in Africa for quite some time again. It seems like I have these massive opportunities to visit Africa, but I’m staying there for longer and longer stretches at a time.
I look forward to sharing photos when I travel around the country throughout June.
Biksharing in big cities is an extremely easy and fun way to see a city. It’s far cheaper than taking a cab everywhere and more expansive than simply walking around your hotel’s two to three mile radius.
Most major cities I have visited have bikeshare programs and, of course, when I am in Africa (particularly in the rural areas) I see bikes everywhere. Bikes are still relevant even when it’s sometimes easier to simply hail a taxi.
Here are some bikshares I’ve seen in Berlin, London, and DC.
It’s been great living in two time zones. I’m usually up extremely early (around 3 AM EST) making calls to Addis. I go back to sleep for a hot second and then I’m up early again getting ready for east coast time. And then I crash early in the evening and repeat it the next day. I love it!
Before I start getting sleepy each evening my family and I head out to a greenway to feel the spring air. Hearing all of the birds and smelling the grass, flowers, and trees is infectious. It’s something my senses will always remember. There is nothing like spring in the south.
When I was a kid we had a sprawling Southern magnolia tree in our yard. Each year I would wait for it to bloom with its magnificent white, fragrant flowers so I could try to jump and reach one and bury my nose in it. I never did reach one, but I could smell the beautiful flowers all the time. I’ve been in love with Southern magnolias ever since.
Yesterday evening near dusk we went for a walk and again I tried my best to reach a flower when we passed a Southern magnolia, and again, I couldn’t reach one. But my camera lens could reach a few. The best, most beautiful flowers are always the ones high in the trees you can never get to.
Have you ever smelled a Southern magnolia? If you haven’t, be sure to put it on your to-do list!
By the way, I am so honored that my Tumblr blog got featured on Tumblr’s staff blog today. They also featured one of my photos from Tanzania. I couldn’t be happier!
This is the first full week I’ve been home since Ethiopia. Of course, it’s been an adjustment, but overall I think I’ve done a pretty good job getting back into a normal routine. My body has transitioned to east coast time so although I am still going to bed earlier than usual I am still waking up around 6 AM. That’s definite progress.
New Coltrane Photos
I read a fantastic piece in today’s Smithsonian Magazine by Nelson George about newly found photos of John Coltrane in New Photos of John Coltrane Rediscovered 50 Years After They Were Shot. It’s a great article. Be sure to go through the slide show. I grabbed two of my favorite Coltrane songs to commemorate the occasion!
Contraceptives in Pakistan
PRI’s Ninth Month series covers pregnancy and childbirth around the world. Take a listen to Sonya Narang’s piece out of Pakistan about mothers-in-law who hold sway over a woman’s contraceptive choices: What if your mother-in-law decided when you got pregnant?
Kerry in Africa
As you may know Secretary of State John Kerry is in Africa on a diplomatic mission. Today he gave a speech in Addis about America’s commitment to the continent. The United States already has a large humanitarian and global health commitment to Africa, but as Kerry said in his speech I hope that the United States invests more in business and education as well as entrepreneurship and harnessing the bright, young minds in Africa. There is already progress in that direction.
I am fascinated by this impending deal between Pfizer and AstraZeneca. Pfizer wants to buy AstraZeneca for $100 billion (with a B)! That is a mind-boggling amount of money and shows once again how deep pharma’s pockets really are.
I have written here before at length that I love beer and everywhere I travel I find new-to-me beers to try. This time while I was in Ethiopia I tried Meta beer. I had a few bottles during my few weeks in Ethiopia. Mainly I drank St. George which is the most popular in my estimation. Meta is good, too. And, as it turns out, I’m not the only person who enjoys a good Ethiopian beer.
Ethiopia’s Meta Abo Brewery was purchased in 2012 by Diageo, one of the world’s largest drinks companies, to grab a foothold into Ethiopia’s quickly growing beer market.
All week I have been sharing photos on my Instagram and Tumblr. Some of them you may have seen before. Others you may not.
The longest I have ever stayed away from my family was four days shy of a month when I traveled to Zambia, Tanzania, and South Africa last October. This trip to Ethiopia, in comparison, was nothing close to that! I was only there for little over two weeks. Now I am home and getting back into the groove of things.
Before getting home I spent two days in Washington. It was nice getting into DC after a 15 hour flight from Addis. I always love going through customs and hearing the officer say, “Welcome home.” As much as I love traveling the world, I also love coming home. There’s nothing like it!