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2311, 2021

Faces Of Iraq

By |November 23rd, 2021|Categories: Asia, Photos, Unique Experiences|4 Comments

Faces Of Iraq, Breaking Stereotypes.  Iraq has been in the news for all of the wrong reasons for as long as I can remember.  There was the brutal war between Iran and Iraq which took the lives of over 1,000,000 souls.  Iraq invaded and occupied its diminutive neighbor, Kuwait.  Iraq and its leader, Saddam Hussein, were brushed back by US and allied forces; embarrassed and punished by crippling sanctions.  This was followed by another invasion of Iraq with disastrous consequences.  Civil war followed for years, ISIS terrorized many in the region, and ordinary people suffered greatly.  Add in the persecution and killings of the Kurds, the genocide of the Yazidis, beheadings and car bombings, and it can all be overwhelming. With all of this in mind, it would not be surprising if someone had a negative opinion of this Middle Eastern country.  But it is unfair to label Iraq by simply judging the last two generations of history.  Iraq is known as the “cradle of civilization” as it hosted the earliest known civilization dating back 7,500 years.  [...]

1811, 2021

Unique Faces Of Gerewol Festival

By |November 18th, 2021|Categories: Africa, Photos|2 Comments

Unique Faces Of Gerewol Festival. The Wodaabe are a subgroup of the Fulani ethnic group.  The Fulani which goes by a number of names is one of the largest ethnic groups found in West Africa and the Sahel.  The Fulani number approximately 60 million.  The Wodaabe on the other hand only number 100,000 across Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, CAR, and DRC.  The Wodaabe are historically nomadic cattle-herders and traders Woda can be translated as “those who respect taboos” referring to the Wodaabe’s isolation from the broader Fulani group and the Wodaabe’s commitment to tradition.  The Wodaabe herd long-horned Zebu cattle and follow the rain from south to north from June through September.  A group is comprised of several dozen relatives.  The Wodaabe follow the Islamic faith and began to convert in the 17th century. I stayed five days with some Wodaabe in southern Chad at the end of the rainy season in early October.  I attended the Gerewol Festival.  You can read about my experience of Visiting Gerewol Festival.  The Gerewol Festival is a matchmaking opportunity for [...]

1811, 2021

Visiting Gerewol Festival

By |November 18th, 2021|Categories: Africa, Unique Experiences|3 Comments

Visiting Gerewol Festival.  The debate can become a bit heated when a group of traveler’s endeavors to define “off the beaten path”.  The definition is somewhere between subjective and slippery.  It is moving target based upon where you are from and where you live.  Something exotic to you, is pedestrian to the person that lives there.  From the western perspective, I will posit that Chad fits the definition of off the beaten path location. Let’s start with visitors.  Chad ranks 189th in tourist arrivals on the most recent year of data I could find in 2017.  That’s not good.  The best-known gateways to fly in from are Casablanca, Istanbul, Cairo, Addis Ababa, and Paris.  Paris is the only European gateway and has only two flights a week. For those Chasing 193, when you visit Chad a land-locked country, in north-central Africa, you might want to check the box and spend the night in the capital, N’Djamena, have dinner and head out.  This city of one million, is not recognized as a world class city.  Its dusty, hot, [...]

2210, 2021

Tommy Shuai Shao … Chasing 244

By |October 22nd, 2021|Categories: Podcast|0 Comments

Tommy Shuai Shao Counting Countries has traveled to 168 countries I am friends with Tommy on Facebook and also met him on the somewhat famous Adam Hickman Covid Zoom travel trivia game, but he was many of my social media friends who I really did not know.  On Tommy’s FB page I noted some interesting posts with a lot of flight maps.  It definitely caught my attention and thought I would love to learn more about Chasing 244.     After my conversation with Tommy, I will be checking in with Thor Pedersen again of Once Upon A Saga.  I have been documenting Thor’s journey to every country in the world and all of the challenges he has been facing with this pandemic.  You will hear a snippet of this conversation but my patrons will hear the entire conversation.   Thanks to Phillip Jones, Simen Flotvik Mathisen, Steph Rowe, Ted Nims, Bisa Myles, Thor Pedersen, and Adam Hickman for supporting Counting Countries. They help pay for the production of this podcast.  You can support this podcast by going to Patreon.com/CountingCountries.   [...]

1310, 2021

Counting Countries Special Announcement

By |October 13th, 2021|Categories: Podcast|0 Comments

 Join us in Yerevan, Armenia from October 14 -16, 2022 At the Armenia Hotel Yerevan For the: Extraordinary Travel Festival This will be a multi-day event with great and inspiring speakers And at night we will be hosting parties and dinners to have fun and unwind This is a great opportunity to meet travelers from all over the world Our goal is to bring people together from around the world, who are: Traveling to every country in the world Passionate to explore extreme destinations And love to have fun and network with likeminded people To learn more about this event, please go to: www.extraordinarytravelfestival.com Use code EPS to save $50 off your ticket

1309, 2021

Abandoned Young Pioneer Camp In Armenia

By |September 13th, 2021|Categories: Asia, Must-See|2 Comments

Abandoned Young Pioneer Camp In Armenia.  Road trip!  Armenia style.  At first brush, on a guided trip you might think Armenia is solely populated with ancient rock monasteries and abundant helpings of khorovats (BBQ Armenian meats).  But scratch the surface just a bit … and you will realize this landlocked country offers much more. On my two-day road trip to the northern part of the country, no churches or monasteries were on the list.  In fact, the mission was a visit to an abandoned Young Pioneer camp in Spitak.  The Young Pioneers founded in 1925 was the socialist version of the Boy Scouts, ubiquitous in the former Soviet Union and other socialist countries.  In 1973, 40,000 summer camps could be found just in the Soviet Union servicing nearly 10 million kids. As Armenia was part of the Soviet Union until 1991, Armenia kids headed off to the mountains to have in a patriotic manner across the republic.  This included the Fairy Tale Young Pioneer Camp set in the mountains on the outskirts of Spitak, a town devastated [...]

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