Two Muslims from South Africa mixed adventure travel and spirituality this year by cycling to Mecca for the Hajj. Natheem Cairncross, 28 and Imtiyaz Haron, 25, cycled through South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Turkey, Syria and Jordan. Visa problems with Sudan and Ethiopia meant they had to take a plane from Kenya to Turkey, but that doesn’t lessen their achievement.
In an interview with the BBC, Cairncross said the 6,800-mile journey was a life-changing experience. Both had to sell possessions to raise money for the trip. Cairncross even sold his car. Yes, he had a car and he decided to go by bike.
The Hajj is the traditional pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim should do at least once in their lifetime if they are able. Currently the Empty Quarter Gallery in Dubai is exhibiting photos and recordings made by Dutch explorer Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje in 1885. Check out the link for some amazing early images and eerie recordings made on wax cylinders that had only recently been developed by Thomas Edison.
The popular magazine Condé Nast Traveler hosts the annual World Savers Awards to recognize the efforts of hotels, airlines, tour and cruise companies that give something back through their environmental or social programs. But one recipient of the 2010 award is attracting controversy over its actions.
Wilderness Safaris won this year’s award in the Health Initiatives category for its HIV/AIDS program, which includes the construction of clinics in South Africa, Zambia, and Malawi. Now Survival International, which supports the rights of indigenous peoples, says Wilderness Safaris falls short of its image as positive force in the community.
It points to its new luxury lodge, the Kalahari Plains Camp, set on the traditional lands of the Bushmen in Botswana. The lodge boasts a bar and swimming pool while the Bushmen have to walk for miles to get water. The local people used to have a well, but the government capped it when it kicked the Bushmen off the land in 2002. Survival International and the Bushmen went to court and won the right for the Bushmen to return to their lands, but the government still won’t allow them to reopen the well.
Wilderness Safaris says providing water isn’t their responsibility, but Survival International points out that they constructed a well near one of their resorts in Zimbabwe in order to attract more wildlife.
How much responsibility does a resort have to the local community? Tell us what you think in the comments section.
Happy Hump Day, Gadling’ers! It’s time to look at the festivals and events happening around the world, and this week has a particularly international selection of happenings. If you’re close and have time, then you have no excuse to get out and go!
Islamabad – The Hot Air Ballooning Competition in Pakistan begins this Thursday, October 15 and ends on the 18th.
Malawi – Lake of Stars: This special music festival takes place on the shores of Lake Malawi. The festival begins on Thursday, October 15 and lasts through the 18th.
New Zealand – Wanakafest 2009: The Wanakafest, a fun festival that includes urban downhill biking, bike back flips, snowboard rail jam, music, waterfront events, a fashion show, a food and wine fair and a street parade among other things begins this Thursday, October 15 and ends on the 18th.
Pittsburgh – International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival: Pittsburgh’s an annual celebration of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered writers, directors, actors and their work begins this Friday, October 16, and continues until October 25th.
Delhi – Diwalli, the Festival of Lights, will be held this Saturday, October 17. It is a colorful celebration of the victory of the good within people over evil. Traditionally people give gifts to family, friends and employees, making Delhi a bustling marketplace.
Shanghai – The 10th Annual China Shanghai International Arts Festival begins this Sunday, October 18 and runs until the 23rd. The performing arts fair, a major sector of the festival, is the largest and most effective performing arts market of its kind in China.
Sao Paolo – Grande Premio do Brasil: Brazil’s featured Formula 1 car race will be held this Sunday, October 18 at 2 p.m.
If you make it to one of these events, let us know how it was, or if you know of an even that’s coming up, please let us here at Gadling know and we’ll be sure to include it in the next “Get out and go” round-up.
‘Til next week, have a great weekend — the first of October!
The 2009 edition of the Tour d’Afrique got underway last Sunday, with cyclists setting out from Cairo, Egypt on a 7317 mile long race to Cape Town, South Africa. In between they’ll pass through the Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, and Namibia, fostering international goodwill along the way, while raising funds for environmental protection and promoting cycling in Africa.
The race is broken down into 96 stages of various lengths, with a typical day getting underway at 7:30 AM, when the top riders start out on the course. They are soon followed by another group who may not be contending for the top spot, but still want to complete every mile, while the “Back Pack” is made up of a group of riders who just want to enjoy the adventure and soak up some of the culture of the countries they are passing through.
This is the seventh year that the race has been run, and the web coverage seems to be the best ever. For instance, there are photos from each stage, videos from the various countries and introductions for some of the riders, and a daily blog with results and news from the course.
With six stages done, the riders have more than three months of riding ahead of them through a variety of climates and terrains before reaching their final destination on May 9th. They’ll struggle through the Sahara Desert, roll across the Equator, and race across an endless savannah, and they each payed more than $10,000 for the privledge. Seems like it’s an adventure worth every penny.
When I watched the trailer of One Day in Africa, the latest documentary of Brook Silva-Braga, the resonance of village and city life in most African countries was immediately evident. It’s a resonance that often doesn’t make headline news. It resides in the pattern of each day that starts before the sun comes up when Africans, in particular women, get busy.
The shot of women pounding grain comes to mind. When I lived in a Gambian village for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer, the thwack of a wooden pestle against a mortar as it removed husks from grain was like a heartbeat.
What Silva-Braga shows about African life is that it has rhythm and cadence and is not totally embroiled with AIDS and poverty. There is another theme to explore, one that involves the complex melding of African traditions with the modern world.
Sure AIDS, poverty and violence do exist, but they are not what Brook Silva-Braga set out to show in his second film project. His first film, A Map for Saturday, was a documentary about around the world travel–his and others. That film included every continent except Africa.
One Day in Africa is a companion project in a way, but the focus is different. In this latest project, Silva-Braga got up close and personal with his subjects– six Africans, both men and women, whose stories are typical of the stories of others who live in this vast continent. [For the trailer, keep reading.]
These six could be like any other six, but in their typicality, their uniqueness also comes through. Athough their lives may not look anything like ours, the essence of what they are after is recognizable. How they resonate in their own lives is an alluring tale.
Titus, a store owner in Kisumu, Kenya has just reopened his store after it was ransacked during the presidential election. For him, life is about moving forward.
Howa, a young woman in Farge-Fundu, Niger starts her household chores at dawn in a place where it’s hard to imagine that anything could grow in the dry landscape.
Bridgete, a pregnant woman in Lilongwe, Malawi is hoping for a son and is unsure how she will get to the hospital since her husband is a bit lackluster about the idea of driving her to the hospital in his taxi.
Sali, a university educated woman in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, has high expectations despite living in a mostly male dominated culture
Osman, a merchant in Fez, Morocco, has many “brothers” who help him sell his goods to tourists.
Brahim, a farmer in N-8, Mali, feeds a family of fourteen from his efforts
From the snippet I saw, part of the film’s charm and interest lies with Silva-Braga’s questioning of the subjects. As they go about their day, his voice is heard asking them questions about how they see their lives. Through the interactions, the viewer is led into the intimacy of conversations that are similar to the swirl of dialogue that happens around us every day. Conversations about life, hairstyles, work and the mundane.
Look for the film’s screening schedule on March 1 at the One Day in Africa website. It will be making the rounds at various film festivals.
Brook Silva-Braga graced Gadling with a stint as a guest blogger in 2007. His posts, grouped together as the series “Across Northern Europe,” are a thinking person’s missives about aspects of travel. Reading them is also a look into Silva-Braga’s head, not a bad place from which to view the world.