First World Problems in the Third World

Writing from Delta flight 201 in route to Atlanta from Johannesburg. The flight attendants are demonstrating the self-inflating life preservers. Really? That little thing is going to save my life in the event of a water landing in the Atlantic Ocean? I don’t think so.

I have a relatively spacious seat in Economy Comfort, so this should be a comfortable place to stay for the next 16 hours. When all is said and done, I will have travelled by air for close to 20,000 miles (not including my trip on a microlight J). I also travelled by land for countless hundreds of miles. It seems like a lot of work and, without a doubt, it wasn’t easy. However, now that I’ve done it, I think a trip like this is well within the realm of possibility for any first world citizen with a modest savings account, some vacation time, and a passport. Oh, and one more thing: the desire to overcome fears associated with such a journey. Not easy for me, but I’m so happy I did it. Looking back on my trip at this early stage, I think that last requirement might be the most important.

Africa is an amazing continent, and I only just scratched the surface. True, I took a big bite out of Namibia, but there are so many amazing African locations like Zambia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Botswana, and others. Hopefully, I’ll add some of these locations to my book before turning the last page.

Living in the first world as I do, I was fascinated to observe the differences in the roads, electricity, and other infrastructure. I had a difficult time finding reliable, high-speed access to the internet while I was in Namibia. How’s that for a first world problem in the third world?

There was no time on my trip to explore the challenges faced in the third world, but I didn’t have to look far to witness examples. For sure, I experienced many first world conveniences, but when you come face-to-face with the third world in Africa, you can’t help but be moved. The most heart-rending example for me was a woman selling trinkets while her toddler clung to her breast looking for a meal. Honestly, that was a bit depressing. Then, less than ten feet away, I encountered a beautiful woman selling colorful scarves and dresses. The vision of her standing in the doorway of her hut immediately struck me and I had to take a picture. She happily agreed and the result is the attached iPhone image. It is a vision I’ll never forget. To me, she beams with hope and optimism for a continent and a world. I’ll share many more pictures from my trip, but this is my favorite. I hope you enjoy it!


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