Update #1

Gus Mattammal

Howdy all! Welcome to the new people on my little what’s-going-on-in-Gus’s-life update list: several friends from school, and two cool new people I’ve already met on my not-exactly-round-the-world trip: Laura and Fitsum.

I met Laura on the Long Island Railroad train to Penn station. She’s working for AmeriCorps in Kansas City helping fix up homeless shelters. She has already experienced some success with photography (published in the NY Times magazine, etc.), and I guess is struggling with whether to pursue the uncertain life of a photojournalist or to pursue a more traditional line of work. Talking to her made the late night trip from Islip, Long Island to NYC quite enjoyable. I met Fitsum the next day on the bus from Grand Central Station to the Newark airport. He is an ethnic Eritrean who was raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He and his family fled the country 2 years ago when Ethiopia and Eritrea started fighting with each other again, and it was not a good thing to be Eritrean in Ethiopia. People evidently were being forcibly deported by the busload and dumped on the Eritrean side of the border in the middle of the desert. His mother and sister came to the U.S., but since he was ready to start college and had an uncle in Sweden, where higher education is free, he went to Sweden. Very nice guy, indeed. Hopefully I will meet other interesting people as this trip goes on….

I am headed to Athens tomorrow. I will be there around 2 weeks, and then I head to Cairo for 2.5 weeks, and then to Tel Aviv for 8 days, and then to Nairobi for a month, before coming back to the US and trying to find a new place to live.

Highlights from my 7250 mile, 30 day road trip with Nacole:

Another new person on the list is Gordon, city councilman of Halfway, Oregon, who let Nacole and I sleep in the extra room in his home because it was late at night and the nearest available hotel room was 50 miles back in the direction we had come from. He happened upon us in a cafe, with me flipping out about having no place to stay. And, he fixed my car (it was idling funny and refusing to start sporadically) and wouldn’t accept anything in return. Hospitality to strangers still exists in this country! It’s so reassuring….

I’m off to take the train to London. I’m in Gatwick spending a fortune on Internet access. I hope everyone is well!

Cheers, gus

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