Another installment of Traveler’s Spotlight on Jay Travels. This spotlight features Ernest aka “Fly Brother” from the Fly Brother travel blog. The “Fly Brother” doesn’t experience the world via a culturally “neutral,” “color-blind,” “American” matrix. He lives life in full color, just like he travels. Here’s a little more color.
Quick Info on Ernest
How Often Do I Travel
At least once a month
Where to Next?
Mostly hanging out in Brazil, but I’ll be in New York, Canada, and Colombia for a few weeks this summer.
Favorite Travel Gadget
A three-month round-the-world jaunt to 11 countries.
Go to Outer Space if You Could?
I’d consider it
Connect with Ernest
Fly Brother Website
Where have you traveled Internationally? If you describe that location in a single word or phrase, what would it be?
I have been to over 25 countries in 5 continents; here are the most memerable:
- Havana, Cuba – Engaging
- Berlin, Germany – Funky
- Agra, India – Humbling
- São Paulo, Brazil – Unwieldy
- Salvador da Bahia, Brazil – Home
What are the Top 3 destinations on your Bucket List?
Has any trip changed the way you think or act – whether politically, socially or otherwise?I remember in Cuba once being judgmental about this prostitute I met. I was thinking, “have pride in yourself…you don’t have to sell your body.” But then I realized, who am I to tell someone not to sell their body when I’m not offering a viable alternative, such as a job? You never know people’s circumstances and motivations.
Have you ever experienced a problem when traveling (passport, victim of crime, etc.)?Once, in Rio de Janeiro, I was walking home from the gym with a Brazilian friend and while we were talking, a kid of maybe 9 or 10 came up to me and started talking in Portuguese. I told him, in Spanish, that I couldn’t help him and he grabbed my wrist. I, in typical American fashion, yanked my arm back and told him not to touch me (or as we say in Florida, bag back!). He started yelling at me in Portuguese and I yelled back in Spanish, then turned to make my way home. He came up and kicked me in the butt, then ran back across the street.
Things escalated from there, with him throwing a rock at my foot and my friend pulling me away from the scene because Lil Man was about to get the whippin his daddy clearly wasn’t giving him. Meanwhile, my friend kept commenting how kids these days don’t even seem to fear two over-six-foot-tall men anymore. When we got back to the house, my anger had turned to anxiety because I was lucky the kid only picked up a rock as opposed to pulling out a knife or gun. And it didn’t matter that I understand all the socio-economic backstory behind this young, black street kid; I was identified as foreign and subsequently as an easy mark. That ended my short-lived love affair with Rio.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve eaten when traveling?Escargot, and that was only a tiny bit and I don’t even remember what it tasted like.
What was your least favorite travel experience and why?My least favorite travel experience would be making a flight connection between Cuba and the States in Nassau, Bahamas. After arriving on Cubana, we were scheduled to make a 45 minute hop over to Miami on a US airline. Four hours later, we were still sitting at the Nassau airport with no information about when our flight would depart or even when the plane would arrive to pick us up; meanwhile, several other flights to Miami on that same airline left on-time. The flight status system also reported our flight as having departed and arrived on schedule, which was a complete fabrication. The airport agents were rude and laughed at our situation (they better be glad we preferred to spend the night in the Nassau airport and not the Nassau jail for assault and battery).
By 8pm, the airport’s sole restaurant closed and we were left to fend for ourselves while the airline offered non-information about the flight. We finally arrived in Miami at almost midnight (scheduled arrival time, 7pm), and were offered zero compensation as Miami was our final destination; I have no idea what happened to a family of six that missed their connection to Los Angeles. I wrote a strongly-worded letter to the airline complaining about the delay and the behavior of their ground staff and they wrote back saying they had no record of the flight ever being delayed. Lesson: in the event of a severe flight delay, save all receipts and exchange contact information with the other passengers.
What kind of vacation do you prefer, adventure, nature, backpacking, luxury getaways, shopping, relaxing, other?While I do enjoy short beach getaways, I’m mostly into extended stays in big cities. I’m a fan of museums and exhibitions, love spectator sports and all kinds of musical performances (from opera to OutKast), and I definitely like to do my thing on the dance floor, and you can get it all in the city. Whenever I can, I like to spend at least a week in one place to get to know the people and the neighborhoods, especially around where I’m staying. I like going to certain places to eat more than once and have the wait staff remember me. After a few days in one place, you start to see people’s daily routines, and that gives you more insight into the place than a quick three night city stay at a chain hotel.
What’s the best thing about traveling? What’s the Worst?
- Best – Meeting people
- Worst – Not being paid to do it (yet)
When you’ve traveled internationally, did you prefer to do things that are familiar (American food/activities) or go outside of the tourists areas an see how the natives live?It depends on the destination. I try to see how people live in a place on a normal day-to-day basis outside of the tourist track, but in Paris, I mean, how can you not go to the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre? And I did often eat at McDonald’s there, but only because I was on a crazy-tight budget and they had 50-cent cheeseburgers.
Do you look for Americans when you travel? Also, do you try to ‘blend in’ or don’t think about it. I’m a definite blender. I try to travel under-the-radar as much as possible, as it tends to show me a little more about how people truly interact in a society. My only experiences with racism abroad have been when people thought I was local. On the down side, I’ve missed the opportunity to take many amazing photographs for fear that I’d be ID’d as a tourist. Generally, I try to avoid other Americans and usually only make contact if I notice they seem lost or in need of assistance. I’ve met some very good American friends abroad, but I travel specifically to interact with other cultures.
Do you have any travel tips to share?Buy the ticket. Go. Live!
Any parting shots or Shout outs?Infinite thanks to my readers who encourage me to inspire, and to my fellow travel bloggers, who keep me inspired.