As one who has traveled to more than 100 cities in 13 countries, I take pride in avoiding tourism and getting as close to the locals as possible. In my opinion, it is among the locals where you get a real sense of the country's culture. Juan, an Afro-Venezuelan friend said it so well, “the barrio is where the culture is.” However, I'm finding that Perú more than any other country I've visited, with the exception of the Philippines, there is a price to pay. Although, I make only a modest income with a non-profit organization, people in many countries seem to feel that I'm in the same income bracket as Bill Gates or Donald Trump. As I get closer and more acquainted with the people, the more I find that I'm approached like an ATM machine. One lady with whom I have a very good rapport, showed me her gas and electric bill asking for help.
bill_smith_block_party

A dance instructor asked me about my motive for hanging out in a poor, non-tourist area when most visitors from Europe and North America stay in major hotels and go to popular tourist attractions. My response to him was that this is the way I practice my Spanish (by immersion), and at the same time, explore the black Latino experience. You don't get these things living in five-star hotels and hanging around expensive tour guides. Speaking of tour guides, I found it more more rewarding and more economical to hire a struggling citizen who can use some extra cash and bring me closer to the real people.          

To get around, I prefer as much as possible, to use the same type of public transportation as the locals. Of course, dressing down is important because you don't want to be marked as a tourist with fancy clothes and bling-bling; it invites robbers, cheats, and pickpockets. Most of my time was spent among the so-called lower class. On two occasions I ventured into one of Lima, Perú's roughest neighborhoods, La Victoria, where Perú's famous, historically black soccer team Alianza Lima have their stadium. I went into the area wearing an Alianza Lima team jersey. Thus instead of being harassed, I was cheered. People shook my hand. Others drove by honking their horns and giving me the thumbs up shouting "ALIANZA LIMA-A-A-A-A-A-A-A! I wonder if they thought I was one of the players. After all, I did fit the profile--black and athletic.

By living close to the locals, I endure a standard of living that will “annoy” the average tourist. As a result, I have more spending money to enjoy myself, and at the same time, help others who need the help in a way that I can afford. It was a total joy, a heartfelt pleasure, and worth every penny to see how they were enjoying my company and my treats as I achieved my goal of making lifetime friends, learning the cultures, but most importantly, improving my Spanish.



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1

My Ugandan Adventure at the Source of the Nile in

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  Re-Discover Uganda! (Part 2)                                                          

Monday, 30 March 2015 Comments

Discover Cape Verde!

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Literally translated, Boa Vista means “beautiful view” and the Cape Verde island lives up to its name, surprising visitors with stunning views. But there is so much more to Boa

Monday, 27 May 2013 Comments

Enjoying the Night Life in Dakar, Senegal

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If you are ever in Senegal, you must go to Dakar for nightlife entertainment. Senegal's capital, Dakar is located in the most western point of the African continent. You will find

Wednesday, 26 September 2012 Comments

2

Cheap Flights to Africa: Ten Tips on Travel to the

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More and more African Americans and people in the Western hemisphere are fulfilling their dreams of visiting Africa. Finding a cheap flight to Africa from the US is not so

Wednesday, 26 September 2012 Comments

A Giraffe Sighting: An Unforgettable Moment in East

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                                                                              On that morning when I stepped to view the 8000 foot high Miriakamba compound on Tanzania's Mt. Meru, where I had eaten and slept better than I had expected the

Tuesday, 11 October 2011 Comments

Going Back to My African Roots!

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A traveller from Great Britain experiences the 10th International Gambian Roots FestivalSince my mid twenties, I’ve become a very keen traveller to Afrika.  I really got into it in 1997

Friday, 8 April 2011 Comments

3

10 Historically Black Beaches to Visit This

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If you did not get to go in summer 2016, plan to visit one of these beaches now. Elle gave us this round up on 10 historic black beaches to

Friday, 23 June 2017 Comments

Doin’ Accra: Six Ways To Catch Some Culture In Ghana’s

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In part one of a six-part series on Ghana for AFK Travel, Starrene Rhett-Rocque, a first-time visitor to the country, blazes a trail through the capital city of Accra in

Wednesday, 18 March 2015 Comments

Visit Brazil for Boa Morte Festival in August

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My name is J. Carlos Desales. I am a native of Rio de Janeiro and a citizen of United States. Currently, I spend the most part of the year in

Saturday, 14 March 2015 Comments