there’s a few reasons to excuse a travel writer’s lack of recent blog posts:
too busy traveling
too busy writing
well, who’s counting? but an extra good reason i have which was not fun while it was happening but in hindsight is a great thing – i got my double ecuadorian/american citizenship. i think of this site more as a portfolio than a blog and didn’t really clue you in on the story, but i moved to ecuador a year ago to attain nationality through my family, who are from here. i had no effing clue it would take this long and that the process would make me feel pretty miserable for a while, but i got it now and can cross the border and travel to whole other countries ’cause i got not one, but two passports. for a traveler, this news is so good it’s bad.
so now we have to talk about the zine. i just got back from mailing the first ten copies, which were ordered back in december. i’ve got to admit, this looks bad. real bad! and it hasn’t taken so long ’cause i was too busy traveling or writing or stoned, but because of TONS of formatting issues and copy machine troubles (plus that fire that melted half my typewriter.) My tiny room in Guayaquil serves as ‘the zine office’ (i sleep on the couch in the living room ’cause the office is hot as balls, and there’s no internet) where hundreds of miscopied zines are lying about in piles. there is no self-serve kind of copy shop set up in Ecuador – someone has to do it for you. everywhere all the time has been copied in student supplies shops in jungle towns, fishing villages, stationary stores in four cities, and on and on – badly. i can’t blame these folks for not understanding layout, but in the words of Gob Bluth, COME ON! i’m not going to tell you how much of my dwindling funds have been spent on bad copies.
but i’m still on a high from that time i got my ecuadorian citizenship (what i spend in copies i make up for in free healthcare!) so i’m goin’ ahead and looking for the perfect copyshop in the sky/ecuador and will print this goddam zine exactly as i want it whether it wants to be printed or not. the first ten copies that were mailed today are the best of the lot – a little out of order but otherwise quite awesome. and just to make up for all that bullshit waiting time, the first 20 orderers get the second issue free! gratis! i’ll be sending an e-mail letting you know who you is.
since this is the zine’s first copy i want it to be perfect, so the ‘miscopies’ aren’t unsightly or unreadable, they just don’t come in the order i planned it. what i’m trying to say is – they look great! so those hundreds of imperfect zines won’t go to waste; i’m selling them on etsy for $2 (plus a lil’ shipping) so you betta order that shit, ’cause those will be sent out immediately. i re-opened my old shop where i sold typewriters and named in Boom For Real Press (basquiat ref) and plan to turn it into a full-blown international travel zine distro in septemberish.
IN THE YEARS I’ve spent climbing mountains, descending into canyons, and generally getting into all sorts of adventures, I’ve rarely run into another person of color in the outdoors.
by BANI AMOR June 7th 2013 Originally published on Matador Network. Please comment and share!
Skimming through the travel glossies that so captured my young imagination revealed images of white people doing what society defined as white people things: hiking, camping, climbing. This vague and at once startlingly direct message from travel media and society at large left an impression on me — a Latino city kid — of total exclusion.
Despite the lack of role models in the outdoors industry, I flung myself into it, with hopes that the next generation of youth of color would find a wild world waiting for them if they only were given the opportunity. If they just saw one other person like them doing it, too. It was after hearing about Expedition Denali that I finally felt like this could become a reality.
This June, 100 years to the month after the highest point in North America, Mt. McKinley (Denali), was first successfully ascended, the first team of African-American climbers will attempt the summit. Besides making history, their expedition can pave the way for a new generation of young people of color to get outside and become stewards of America’s wild places. Thanks to the success of their Kickstarter campaign, a documentary film crew will be chronicling their journey, and a book is in the works.
I recently had the chance to speak with team member and 20-year-old alpinist Rosemary Saal, to talk about inspiring diversity in the outdoors with Expedition Denali.
* * *
BA: How long until the expedition now?
RS: Just short of two weeks! I can’t believe it.
BA: How do you feel now that it’s so close?
RS: “Pumped” is the first word that comes to mind! Nerves are definitely building up a bit as well, but mostly nervous excitement.BA: On other expeditions — comprising mostly white folks — they’ve got to overcome the altitude, cold, physical exhaustion, etc. They’ve got to climb the mountain. But you guys are representing your race and, you know, climbing the mountain. And not just any mountain — a 20,320 foot-high one. Do you feel the pressure?RS: Only slightly, I’ll admit. The media attention is the main source of pressure, just knowing that the entire expedition will be meticulously documented. But then I remember that this pressure-inducing-exposure will greatly help the whole purpose of the project, and my confidence in this team is reassured.BA: You’re definitely following through with what seems to be the goal of the project, to get the word out and inspire other people of color, mostly young African-Americans, to get out ‘into the wild.’ A 2010 survey revealed that over 80% of Americans who engage in outdoor activities are white. Any idea as to why that is?
RS: I feel that many people of color have the mentality that we do not “belong” in the outdoors. When the sport was first being developed and explored, the traditional participant was a white male. For some reason, this image has stuck in the minds of many and in actuality has not changed significantly.
Many people of color [in my life] have even jokingly claimed that my urge to explore the outdoors myself is the “white” side of me, following that up with “people of color don’t do that.”
BA: As a teenager into punk rock, I was branded as being into “white people stuff” by family and friends. Maybe some POC are hesitant about losing their ‘race badge’ or something. Like it’s easier to fully belong to one community than take the initiative to be different and risk not really belonging to any group. Is Expedition Denali trying to change that story?
RS: Absolutely! It is stereotypes and labels such as those that perpetuate the notion that POC do not have a place in the outdoors or the means to embrace nature. We seek to shift that view, or at least begin to.
BA: You’re breaking down all sorts of boundaries. Your team is incredibly diverse — from teenagers to elders from all over the States, many of whom are women and mixed-race folks. You represent a whole range of the Afro-diaspora.
RS: We most definitely do! I am very proud to be a part of the diversity within this team.
BA: It’s very refreshing. On the other end, I was a bit surprised that in James Mills’ Nat Geo profile of you guys, he felt compelled (by an onslaught of ‘post-racial’ rhetoric from the majority white climbing community) to explain the critical necessity of an expedition of this sort. Have you had to answer to comments like that, too?
RS: The team has had to answer to such comments, yes. There are a few skeptics out there who do not see the necessity or significance of this expedition.
BA: What do you say to them? Or is the message of this expedition just not for them?
RS: We simply acknowledge and stress that this expedition aims to change the views of one aspect of the outdoor industry. While there are many issues involving ethnicity, socioeconomic class, etc. concerning the industry, it would be an entirely different story to tackle and make an impact on them all.
BA: They should look at the facts: By 2018 the majority of youth in the United States will be of color. Considering that most of them are not spending much time outdoors, a message of inclusion would seem imperative to any environmentalist or climber.
RS: Absolutely, a message of inclusion and a set of role models.
BA: Considering all this stigma, how did you first get involved in climbing?
RS: My involvement in climbing proceeded quite naturally. I always enjoyed climbing on anything I could get my hands on practically since I could walk. I was fortunate to be exposed to resources in an environment that introduced me to technical and more “official” climbing opportunities before I was really aware of the stigma.
BA: The way it should be.
RS: Exactly! I totally agree. That is one of the reasons I’m particularly excited to spread the message of Expedition Denali to youth of color. Hopefully they can see this story and realize their ability to get outside before being exposed to the stigma surrounding this topic.
BA: Finally, what does it mean to you personally to be a part of Expedition Denali?
RS: Personally, this expedition means a lot to me. On a personal level, it is a huge physical challenge to accomplish…
Most importantly, however, I am really looking forward to being a role model, to going out and providing an example of how POC truly do belong in the outdoors as well. I had wonderful role models and mentors when I was first getting involved in climbing. I wish to be that person, inspiring and encouraging the next generation the way I was inspired and encouraged.
BA: You’re only 20 and about to make history by ascending the highest point in North America in the first afro-centric expedition. No biggie, no presh…
RS: I know right?! It’s absolutely bonkers! I could not be more stoked.
BA: It’s a very vivid, beautiful metaphor. In a way, you’re carrying a lot of folks — folks like us — to the summit with you. It sounds like you see that as more of an honor than a burden.
RS: I really do. I am so incredibly fortunate and grateful to be a part of this movement. How could I see it any other way?
BA: Word. I’m stoked too, and honored that you took the time out of your training to talk today. Say hi to Denali for me! I know you’ll do an awesome job.
RS: Thanks girl! I will most definitely send your regards.
it’s all happening. if you haven’t seen almost famous, you’ve missed the ref. (and what’s up with you anyway? go see almost famous!) this past weekend i made a TON of headway in the Zine World and should be done this week, but y’all know i’ve been making that promise since december (major thanks to all the folks who’ve ordered and been super patient.)
basically, and this’ll make sense to other (newbie) zine writers out there, it took me so long to get the layout in order ’cause i’m shitty with numbers and all that stuff, and when i finally had the cash to get the base mother copy copied, the dude flipped the pages around and messed up the layout. also, part of my typewriter was melted in a house fire, so using it became an EXTREME pain in the ass, and that’s in addition to all the other analog issues it already has. again, other typewriter users will know what i’m sayin’.
so, started from scratch, using my photocopied images, some new ones, vellum, contact paper, graph paper and copies of sketches. i made (er, am making) the mother copy as it would appear in it’s final form, then will lay it out on pages for photocopy time. either zinemaking is more difficult than others seem to lead on or, i’m a dumbass.
i’ve taken out a lot of stuff, added in new stories and am trying to make it a good looking read overall. so if you haven’t ordered, please do! you can skim the Freestyle section of this site to get a feel for the kinda stories the zine carries. if $10 is too much for you, we can work out a reduced rate with trade, or just a reduced rate. i’m into all sorts of exchanges. free shipping to anywhere in the world!
it’s very exciting to see this thing finally being born, like for reals this time.
Hey kids,thanks to the over 500 folks who follow this thing. i’m all packed and moving to the coast, if all goes well with my Ecuadorian citizenship. cross your fingers for me. here’s my latest article on Viator’s Travel Blog – Ecuador: South America’s New Adventure Capital.
I haven’t slept at night for over a week. Films, fancy cocktail parties, gay men everywhere and house music, dancing. A beautiful candlelit house sits at the top of a hill a professor with two dogs and a big kitchen inside. Candles because of Venezuela’s rolling power outages. This happened the other day when I was riding the elevator in Ninoska’s building; there was nothing to do but sit inside the pitch black box alone and wait. We’ve been hanging out with Miss Universe 2009 a few days now, we see her at everything. Music falling from the sky.
-Some old crap I dug up. I go on and on about how drunk I got, it’s stupid, so I’ll spare you. Did anyone else see On The Road? How much worse could it have been? I finished my book and will actually publish that zine I mentioned that one time especially since I’m moving away from my stoner household and in with my family on the coast because it’s free and I’ve convinced myself it will magically disable this procrastination mode I’m in.
Actually, I’ve never written so much in my life, but I convince myself I’m lame if I don’t put in ten hours a day, seven days a week #glamorouslifeofthetriverwriter #myopia
I’m so busy with stuff that I haven’t been able to post, but the lovely Jen Carpenter over at Our Wild Hearts always has something awesome and interesting to steal, so here’s a reblog of an interview she did with James Wood. See ya soon!
After being admitted to the hospital twice in two days for my fourth intestinal infection in Life, I ate three cloves of garlic and smoked a cigarette, which is what you should do if you come down with this abroad*.
Last night, instead of editing or pitching I left my fate up to the internet and so began searching for meaning in my astrological birth chart. Here are some fucked up/funny insights.
You have a serious view of the world as being a difficult place to be in.
It is so completely natural for you to accept that there is more to the world than what is before your eyes, that you tend to presume everyone must be spiritually-inclined. Of course, you come to realize that this is not the case at some early point in your life.
You are not much scared of anything.
You have a taste for splendor.
Delights in exposing what she deems biases in others’ way of thinking.
You enjoy shocking others with your offbeat, original thoughts.
You seem to go out of your way to form relationships with those who are weak, sick, injured, addicted or troubled in some way or other.
In other news, the Zine page is up, so you have no excuse not to buy a bazillion copies of the first issue.