i've spent a lot of time traveling; a lot when i was a kid and even more in the last ten years or so. although i do love being a tourist and moving on from place to place, there is something about actually living in another culture that's really special. i lived in tangier, morocco for two years and just recently in danang, vietnam where i was teaching english at two universities. living in a house, walking down the street in your neighborhood, shopping locally, etc. totally changes your own world perspective.
just finished two months on the road in australia and new zealand. traveling by greyhound buses from sydney to cairns stopping in all the best beach places...great. alice springs and desert as amazing as promised!
a year later...june 2007. spent two months fulfilling a life-long dream last fall: being a RESIDENT of amsterdam rather than the perennial tourist! finally...i rented an apartment behind the concertgebouw, joined a gym on overtoom, shopped at the albert hein supermarket, etc. etc. what i was missing, i realized, was WORK!!
when i befriended some moroccan teenage girls in vondel park and let loose with my tiny bit of arabic, they begged me to come to their school and teach them english...OHO...english is really a very portable skill. i made some connections with some community and women's groups and if i go back for a length of time like that, i'll be able to pop into classrooms!
spent the winter again in danang...surely vietnam is going to be the wealthiest southeast asian country...never saw such hardworking folks! i work pretty hard there myself...everyone wants to practice their english with the native speakers...not too many tourists in danang which is a beautiful port city smack in the middle of vietnam, right on china beach. tourists head south to hoi an or north to hue. cruise ships park in the harbour which is the biggest deep water port in that part of the world and take the tourists north or south. more folks land at the airport in danang which was built by the americans during the war and is up to international standards. taxi drivers and buses greet them and shepherd them north and south. so, to my delight, being a westerner in danang is still somewhat of a novelty and i am warmly greeted wherever i go...someone always wants to practice english!