I know, I know, I look good and it has nothing to do with that smokin hot wife of mine I’m sure nobody noticed. What’s up, #steemit, this should be fun (to some)—you ready? Welcome to my 300th post! The one where I broaden my friends list exponentially. :wink:
Since #traveliving abroad all year, the stunning (see above) @puravidaville and I have met and, often times but not always, befriended many people from all across our globe. From the west to the east, both south and north of the equator, we’ve come in contact with a lot of people. Something you quickly need to acknowledge while traveling outside of your familiar territory are cultural differences—not everyone is indoctrinated in the same
Opening argument: Before I begin saying what I really think about everyone, I should probably tag #satire and #funny, followed by quoting myself saying, “it’s in my best interest to start with my own people—Americans.” This deliberation begins in California, the part of the US most of you have at least heard of. What better way to start this article other than a cover image featuring a dapper tie wearing dude (who says “dude”) with eyes as red as his barbie-doll looking, show-stopping wife’s backless dress (that’s rhetorical, don’t answer that!)—Hollywood’s typical Californian stereotype because, well, when the shoe fits wear it.
You’re invited to enjoy this easy listening courtroom music while Judge D and A’s delivers his verdict—court is now in session.
Everyone has somewhere to be, nobody has time to talk or even help a stranger with something as simple as driving directions. The majority of fathers reading this from California have spent little to no time assisting their own children with their studies—that’s moms job. Dads are too busy grinding from sun up to sun down with just enough time to eat, sleep, and do it all over again tomorrow in a valiant effort to successfully maintain their 99% status. We’re often referred to as rude or demanding, that’s not it, per se, we’re just so programmed to the daily rat race, we don’t have time to think about anything other than the money we don’t have.
California is expensive—money, money, money, a top five world economy with congestion to match and an even higher ranking unemployment line. I have buddies who, to this day, don’t possess a passport—never have and likely never will. Friends of mine and, believe it or not, I have a lot of friends, most of them in their 30’s and 40’s who don’t have a passport—more than half of them, why? Because at their modest $75-$120/hourly wage, they can’t afford the $70 processing fee required to obtain a passport nor fathom having an extra minute to themselves to do something such as experience #life outside of the workplace. Family isn’t even second to their job, it’s third, preceded by first the job, and second their career—it’s sad.
California is sad (that should go over well), broke without a dime to spend enjoying a day with their family and sad. But, having said that, at least now I can get to the good stuff. One more thing—not all Californian’s are as outspoken as you’re about to witness, either, I inherited this quality from my grandfather. Next!
Talk about an entitled group of people—got dang! It’s not that anyone has anywhere to be, their currency is worth 1/3 the value of USD and it’s a tiny little country you can cover in under three hours, there’s no rush to go anywhere to do nothing but they act as though everyone is in their way—even drivers. At all times of the day and night, all you hear are car horns. I made an inside joke between Pura and I suggesting everyone is instructed by law to test the function of their horn once every 30 feet—“yup, still works!”
I can’t make this stuff up—‘take out’ or ‘dine-in’ isn’t your call in Israel, it’s at the discretion of the person working the counter. We told two different people at two different restaurants “take-out” and, both times, we were met with “you don’t need take out, the food is hot now, you’ll eat here.” Upon telling the restaurant employee something to the extent of “no, sorry, we have somewhere we need to be and don’t have time,” we were told “where you’re going can wait, you’ll eat here” and refused to serve our food in a carry-out box.
Another example—I’m a gimp, right, I walk with a brass handled
weapon cane. That means at the airports we always get ushered to the front of the line. Well, in Israel when that happened, we followed the instructions of the gentlemen ushering us. He parked us in front of a woman at the “disabled line” with nobody in her line who looked at me and my cane and said these exact words: “What do you want?” We explained how we got there and she continued playing on her phone without saying another word to us—we filed back in line. Israelis are, or at least think they are, entitled. Next!
Brace yourselves, Norwegians, although I’m certain you’re already aware as it’s customary in your culture to think you know everything, perhaps nobody has ever come right out and said it—allow me. You’re sofa king rude! No sugar coating that one and no other way to describe it. Norwegians are the rudest group of people we’ve met out of everyone I’m about to describe to you and we’ve spent time with a large majority of people, from many locations, since beginning this two year adventure—for instance.
While volunteering at the refugee camp in Greece a couple of times each week during our month there, we were accompanied by four Norwegians on occasion. A lot of the people I’m using as an example for this article are people we met at the refugee camp and, out of everyone there, each from various locations, Norwegians are the only people who never shook our hands or anyone else’s for that matter. Furthermore, while preparing food, the lead counsellor would play music, most of it without lyrics because the majority of us speak a different language—she would play house music, jazz, techno, etc. Each time the counsellor played music when the Norwegians were present, all four of them would harmonize a song in their native tongue that nobody understood so loud it drowned out the ambient music forcing the counsellor to cease playing music. Only then would they stop singing while we continued preparing food. Norwegians are rude, in no culture should that behavior be acceptable. Let’s switch this is up for a minute and talk about some nice people—there’s plenty out there. Next!
We met two different people amongst our travels who are originally from Russia. One guy in particular, we spent nearly every day around for the period of one month. We cooked for him, he cooked for us, we kayak’d together, shopped for groceries together, did our border hopping to and from Panama together, he was a really nice, outwardly friendly guy—approximately 50 years old. He has a 20 something year old son who currently lives in Detroit, Michigan, studying engineering and a mother residing in Jordan. He’s a well traveled guy and just an all-round kind human being.
When Pura and I needed to extend our passports while in Costa Rica, he was more than happy to hold our hands. He made our experience super easy by driving us to Panama while explaining how and where to go, which windows had the kindest personnel, how much it would cost, etc.
He’s a chef by trade so he taught us how Russians make their tzatziki and even introduced us to an aubergine stuffed pita—we’d had variations of it several times in the past but that Russian tzatziki did the trick. He and I remain in contact. Russians are accepting, welcoming people with a great sense of humor and just all around good company. Next!
We spent quite a bit of time with a young lady from Budapest, a super nice person with a welcoming culture, she and Pura remain in contact. We enjoyed a few boat trips and several dinners together with her until we parted ways. She was on an adventure of her own when we crossed paths, apparently it’s customary in Hungary to only work six months out of the year and enjoy your personal life the other six—I’ve since learned it’s only in America where this sort of behavior is intolerable.
She also accompanied us one time to Panama to retrieve grocery items customary to her culture which she then brought back to Costa Rica and prepared dinner for us—it was delicious. Her spoken English was really good and she was tall, taller than me and I’m 6’1”, not sure if that’s a normal height for Hungarian women or specific to her.
That’s another thing I’ve been made aware of since traveliving abroad—most everyone else speaks several languages including English whereas my fellow, intellectually challenged Americans speak only one—English. @puravidaville’s heritage is 1/2 Hungarian so I’m not surprised by our Hungarian friend’s welcoming hospitality. Hungarians are kind, accepting people. Next!
Nice, hospitable, caring, generous, pick your favorite adjective. Nowhere else in all of our travels and in my 44 years of living have I been given dessert at the restaurant, post dinner, on the house, and I’m not just talking once—every.single.time at every single restaurant. We would visit a restaurant once and, from that point forward, just crossing paths with the people who worked there, we would be stopped and acknowledged, not just by saying hello but doing so by name. Pura and I often times wouldn’t recognize nor remember them but they remembered us and were quick to make sure we were enjoying ourselves in their country, ending the conversation by making sure “if there’s anything you need, anything at all, please just stop by and ask.”
Even our host delivered a box of desserts to us on two separate occasions for no apparent reason. He would call us to verify we were at the apartment and then let us know he needed to talk to us real quick and would be over at a specified time. Both times we were greeted with a fresh box of baked goods and just to confirm we were comfortable in his Air B&B unit—that’s never happened anywhere else. I can’t say enough good things about Greek people.
Alright, back to some cultures who should be ashamed of what I’m about say—see my fifth #tag. Next!
They have nice sunsets. And the sun is about the only thing you don’t have to bolt down, bar up, double pad-lock and chain to the ground without worrying about the threat of it being stolen—if you have dust on your exterior doormat, they’ll steal that too.
Even out of the places with cultures who don’t fare well toward people who look like me, I’m so white I have green eyes—I’m not opposed to getting reacquainted, I’ve always been a huge supporter of second chances. Costa Rica, however, thanks but no thanks! I’ll never go back there, ever. I’ve never been robbed so many times in my #life and those are just the times I’m aware of. Regardless if it was a grocery checker, cab driver, server, policia (twice), even the postal service employee—if they can burn you for 25 colones ($0.04 USD), consider yourself burnt. I could go on in greater detail but I’m already having difficulty holding my food down and I think I made my point. Simply typing “Costa Rica” has me questioning the integrity of my autocorrect. Next!
It’s not as bad as Costa Rica. Petrol is a little more reasonable in Panama vs the rest of Central America. Van Halen did a song about it but now that I’ve been there, that song’s deceiving. Want an example? Sure, my pleasure!
Pura and I hopped on a bus at the Panamanian border en route to San José de David. While waiting for the driver to depart, a dude outside the bus, after scoping out the entire bus, stood right outside our window forcing the sale of his water on us, “agua, agua, compra mi agua Americanos” which means “buy my water Americans!” We responded as politely as possible, “no gracias, señor.” He began shouting loudly until eventually yelling at us, “Agua! Agua!” We continued to say no “no gracias.” He then climbed on the window of the bus while pointing at his ring finger insinuating Pura has a nice ring so we should buy his water and then began mocking us while laughing ‘no gracias’ haha... ‘no gracias’ haha...” and, seeing how we were on a bus full of Costa Ricans, the entire bus was laughing hysterically, encouraging his outrageous behavior, making us extremely uncomfortable and accelerating the embarrassing ordeal.
Having been through various parts of Mexico, from Tijuana to Acapulco and Cancun, nearly into Nicaragua and south through Costa Rica and Panama, I was convinced the farther south you go the more ruthless it would be—then I met @jaguar-force. Thanks, Dr. Jaguar, before I met you I was disappointed, to say the least—there’s a light at the end of the continent now. Argentina is officially back on our to-do list. Gracias por preocuparte, mi amigo, Dios te bendiga! Next!
I’m still on the fence. Pura and I just arrived in Rome a little over a week ago and I still have mixed feelings about Italians. Prior to arriving here, I heard arguments from both sides suggesting Italians aren’t friendly at all and, at the same time, I’ve heard Italians are hospitable. Until I’m able to engulf myself in the culture, just as you should be doing while reading my opinions, I take everything with a grain of salt.
That being said, I can tell you not a single grocery checker has acknowledged us with so much as a half smile, I stopped saying “hello” already and just mind my own business while bagging my items. We walked into a jewelry store yesterday to enquire about getting Pura’s rings cleaned, true story—before we turned and walked away, Pura said “do you speak?” The dude never said a wOrd to us even though we approached him with friendly attitudes and smiles—all we did was ask “how long would it take to get these rings cleaned?” He looked, stared us in the face, and didn’t say a wOrd. I said “hello? Can you hear me?” Nothing :crickets: awkward radio silence and we were the only people in there. We left.
The reason I’m still on the fence is because other than the people we’ve encountered in their workplace, everyone else has been kind. I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to the people of Italy because nobody wants to be at work, it’s likely they’d rather be with their families or just anywhere else in general so I won’t take it personally (yet).
The negative rulings strategically intertwined amongst positive rulings on today’s docket have officially come to a close. The remaining cultures we’ve had the pleasure of coming in contact with during our travels have been nothing but generous, caring people who wear their heart on their sleeve. Next!
The few Iraqi’s I’ve met on this platform are just as kind as the young man I had the pleasure of spending an extended period of time with in person, Omar. I met Omar while volunteering at the refugee camp in Greece. We spent two days a week together for a period of one month before enjoying ourselves outside of the camp where Pura and I were fortunate enough to treat him to a decent meal and enjoy conversation together.
Omar is 19 and lives with shrapnel in his body I felt with my own hands delivered by US military planes when he was just 14 years young. He and a group of his friends were playing soccer when the planes flew over head and dropped bombs on the field they were playing in. He lost one friend and a brother that day, another brother at a later date, both of whom were younger than him and I’ll never forget what he told me. Prior to escaping the violence at the young age of 14 all by himself with nothing to his name other than the clothes on his back, he said it wasn’t the bombs that were terrifying—it was the sound of the planes approaching overhead. He said “when you hear the planes, you just hope they kill you so that you don’t have to be scared anymore.”
His struggles escaping the country as a young teenager without a dime to his name landed him in a Turkish prison once and an Albanian prison once, both times he spent several months in captivity. He eventually fled to the Island of Cypress where he climbed aboard a cargo ship headed for Greece and, once the ship docked several hundred yards from shore, he swam to safety. He now possesses Greek identification and is less than seven months away from being able to legally obtain a Greek passport. Having not seen anyone from his family since he was 14, all he can talk about is receiving that passport before his father passes, who is terminally ill, and enjoy another moment together as a family.
One more thing about Omar. This kid who has little to nothing to his name, struggles daily to feed himself and is shacked up in a two bedroom apartment with seven grown men, came to the refugee camp one evening with a really nice, weather-proof jacket. I commented on his jacket, “dang, that sure is a nice jacket, Omar!” He instinctually removed his jacket, handing it to me saying, “here, you like it, it’s yours, I want you to have it.” I refused and he insisted, “no, here, I want to give you my jacket, please take it.” I eventually won the argument and refused to accept his gift but that’s just the kind of person Omar is. Iraqi’s will take the jacket off their back for you even if it’s the only half decent thing they own. Next!
Germans are the only people I’ve come in contact with who I can’t help but feel their pain upon introduction. Again, at the refugee camp, we spent a considerable amount of time with two Germans—one was a doctor donating her services to injured refugees and the other was a gentleman who was preparing food like we were. We also spent an entire day in Bethlehem with a group of tourists, two of whom were German. All four of them shamefully hang their heads as they shake your hand and tell you where they’re from—“Germany.”
All I can do is be overly nice to them because Germany’s #history is in no way a reflection of the German society. Unfortunately, government powers have a way of disgracing your heritage at no fault of your own. Although the United States never had a person named Hitler at the helm, Pura and I are often questioned of America’s tactics with things such as the homeless population, walls, and separating parents from their children who are in search of refuge. At the end of the day, however, there’s always a mutual understanding that it isn’t the people who are opposed to human equality and freedom, it’s the people in power and how it’s portrayed by the media. Germans have a good sense of humor, they’re kind hearted people and I, personally, am a big advocate of German Shepherds. Next!
The first Moroccan we met was our driver who picked us up at the airport in England. He was doing his job, sure, by carrying our luggage and opening our doors but he went beyond that. He not only pointed out all of the iconic architecture we were surrounded by during the drive but he also suggested cellular services to us and was willing to stop at a local phone company so we could acquire SIM cards—that’s not all. Both Pura and I were in bad shape from the jet lag and he poured us his homemade coffee right out of his personal thermos that was so delicious—best coffee I’ve had to this day, we had to know what was in it. That’s when we learned about adding cardamom, mint, thyme and pepper, and how much of each to mix into the grounds prior to brewing.
The second Moroccan we met was at the refugee camp, Badr. He’s a young man, in his late teens, who traveled to Greece all by himself for one reason—assist refugees. He does so seven days a week, every.single.day and he does it for free. Being able to speak both Arabic and English, he was able to communicate with local bakers and, after explaining his position, several local bakeries now donate baked goods on a regular basis to feed those in need and periodically send chefs to the kitchen to prepare meats. Moroccans are genuine people who don’t see anyone as a stranger—they care about their fellow humans regardless if they know you or not. Next!
Syria used to be a beautiful place and is now all but ruined. Our first stay in Bradford, England, we met a Syrian, Qusay, at our favorite restaurant who just happened to own the joint. You can find the extended version of him here—an article I wrote for @tasteem.
From the moment we met him until now, we’ve remained close friends, the pride of his heritage speaks volumes as he constantly holds Syria on a pedestal, willing to tell anyone who will listen how peaceful of a place Syria used to be. It was while growing up on his families olive farm the country’s current state of civil war took shape. It wasn’t until I met and befriended him I was made aware that every Syrian born male has one of two options upon graduating high school—continue your education and prolong your forced military recruitment for four years or succumb to forced military recruitment immediately upon graduating high school. He opted for the other university—F-U.
Having known the dude less than an hour, learning all about his country’s current state of chaos, upon having asked him where we could acquire a few items such as phone chargers and warm clothes (it’s freezing in England), he gave us the charger out of his car and picked us up the following morning to drive us 30 minutes across England to the nearest outlet mall. The extended version is linked above. He sought refuge in England without a dollar to his name and didn’t speak the language. He eventually graduated with a masters in business while working at a local petrol station, ultimately achieving business owner status (two) and is now, as of four weeks ago, after complying with UK regulations for seven years, is officially a British citizen. Congratulations, Qusay!
It’s difficult to talk about him and keep it short. Just the other day, actually, he offered Pura and I the keys to his flat when we return to England next month seeking medical attention for Pura. Syrians go beyond the saying “take the clothes off their back” for their fellow humans, they offer the keys to their house. Next!
We spent an entire day with a Palestinian gentleman during our recent stay in Israel, Tamar. He not only was more familiar with current US politics than the majority of Americans, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, he enlightened us with the State of Palestine’s past as well as their current civil war—that’s a whole other article.
What he did that day was take multiple steps beyond anything Pura and I expected to ensure the both of us felt comfortable and welcomed in his country. Upon learning we practice pescatarian eating habits, he reached out to several associates of his to find a bakery near West Bank that made dairy free bourekas followed by another special stop to treat us to freshly baked baklava—that’s not all.
He offered us Palestinian brewed hopps and, upon learning neither of us drink, he quickly adjusted his offer by insisting he treat us to an authentic Middle Eastern meal at his favorite restaurant who caters to vegans and vegetarians—Tamar is good people. Before parting ways, he shook my hand and said “I hope you return to my country,” gave us his contact information and continued, “I hope you come back. Next time I want to bring you to my house, you’re welcome to stay as long as you’d like, and introduce you to my family where we’ll cook for you the best meal you’ve ever had!” I told him he’s welcome wherever we are as well—we exchanged contact information. Palestinians are some of the most hospitable human beings I’ve ever come in contact with. Asian and Middle Eastern people, in general, have generous souls. Two more—next!
I haven’t met a Brit I don’t like. Prior to visiting England, where we turned a one month stay into three, we were warned of their despair concerning our current regime and were told they don’t take kindly to Americans. Whether or not it’s because their current democracy is as much of a circus as ours is, I’m unsure but, whatever the reason, everything we heard prior to visiting England is false. I can honestly say three of my best friends live in England and we’ve known them less than six months.
They do have a few screws loose—doing things such as drive on the wrong side of the road and on the wrong side of the car which forces foot traffic to cross the street while looking backward but, again, that’s not the people who created those obstacles, the people in power did that. However, at the same time, they have numerous luxuries the rest of the world should have equal access to such as free healthcare, $20/month unlimited cellular service, quality produce where a 6-pack of apples only costs $1.00, the most convenient public transportation I’ve ever witnessed and the list goes on—it’s no wonder refugees ultimate goal is to reach Canada or the UK.
Pay attention my fellow Americans—you know how we call it “Dutch” at the restaurant which means I’ll get cover my tab, you’ll cover yours? In England, it’s known as “the American way.” It’s customary in England to cover the tab. I learned that one after a handful of dining experiences with various British company. Each time I’d try to pay our tab, the bill was already covered. Eventually I learned the only way to cover the tab is by arriving at the restaurant before anyone else and leaving money with the host or hostess prior to anyone ordering. Brit’s go out of their way to assure you’re comfortable in their country while being hospitable and kind and they don’t want you to reach into your own pocket for anything. One more—next!
Ooh wee! The college football team from South Bend, Indiana, USA is called the Notre Dame Fighting Irish—here’s why. Because any correlation between “Irish” and “passive” is a far cry from the #truth. Look, I’m from California, undoubtedly the most liberal state in the union and I, personally, am from LA, the most liberal county in the state. I’m very well aware of the difference between right wing and left wing, conservative and liberal, and I’m telling you, until you’ve befriended an Irish born citizen, you don’t know what “liberal” means—they’re no joke.
If you find yourself in a situation that requires fighting your way out of, you want an Irish native on your side. You don’t even have to finish the wOrd “fight,” by the time you get to “fi,” they’re swinging on everyone in their vicinity—they’re a no holds barred, F the people in power community. In fact, there should be a third wing—right, left, and Irish because when it comes to authority and the corrupt nature of politicians, they’re the ones in front with the loudest voice. That’s not all.
Just as radical as they are toward current tyrannical authority in our shared world, they’re equally supportive of their fellow humans and have an uncanny family oriented nature. One of the Brits I previously mentioned is actually an Irish born citizen residing in England—he’s one of the ones I have to race to the restaurant otherwise I can never purchase a meal for myself, my wife, him, or anyone else in our party. We can’t even pour our own glass of water around this guy. Thanks to him we’ve visited parts of England we most likely never would’ve seen and I’m updated daily with all of the current protests happening worldwide—go figure. Irish people are the ones you want on your side, they aren’t scared to say what they think and they stand strong for what they believe—my kinda people. The end!
Closing argument: In the unlikely event those of you present in this standing room only courtroom disagrees with the courts findings per today’s docket or, you or someone you know has been personally offended by the Judge’s rulings, consider yourself summonsed: