Thank you for voting!

Red, white and blue

Red, white and blue

I don’t know what the result will be but I will be glad when we can see some real news on the TV. It seems like more people have voted than ever before and having lived in a dictatorship, it is a wonderful gift to be able choose your government.

I have a funny story to take the some of the sting out of the lack of etiquette this year. A few months ago, we had a local election in our city. Many people who live here are naturalized Americans who were born elsewhere, so there are dozens of accents including mine. One British friend has lived in the States for over 30 years but has a pronounced English accent. At the election site, one of the volunteers noticed the accent and asked to see her papers…!!! Well… she swiftly told the volunteer that in 30 years of being an American, nobody has asked to see her paperwork. (The volunteer has no reason to do that as your election card or driving licence will come up on the computerized system). The lady behind her was a naturalized American from Russia and she flipped too, “This is like Stalin in Soviet Republic, asking to see papers!! (imagine a thick Russian accent)”

This is Kerry’s moral tale for today. 😇 Never make assumptions about someone’s ethnicity, nobility or nationality based on looks or accent.👸

PS: This blog may shortly be posted from Mexico, depending on the result…😉😎🌴

The Slave Market

The Slave Market Museum in Charleston, SC

The Slave Market Museum in Charleston, SC

I considered writing about the beautiful aspects of Charleston, South Carolina but thought I would reveal its darker side first. This innocuous building might lead you to think that they sold anything other than humans. Charleston was somewhat of a hub for slave auctions which used to be on street corners. Despite owning slaves the residents didn’t want to see children and elderly people in shackles, so the auctions went indoors. This was one of 40 slave marts in historic Charleston at the height of slavery. When I paid for my ticket, I asked one of the docents if Native Americans were also enslaved. Apparently they were, but they were too good at running away. When they discovered the soil was great for growing rice, they really wanted slaves who were farmers.

It was a very moving exhibit, as you can imagine, and appalling to read about humans traded like cattle. I was not surprised but some visitors were deeply moved and the whole museum had a reverential feel, as well it should. Charleston was and still is a very wealthy city, reflected in the buildings and residents but I think it is important to remember why that is. No-one is without blame – some northern states had a horrible history of indentured workers including children and they may as well have been slaves. My own husband was born to an indentured servant at a farm in Scotland in 1958. It was well known that some farmers felt it was their right to have sex with the women. Teddy was the third sibling born to this 33 year old woman and given up for adoption. Glasgow, the city where I grew up, became rich on the back of shipping and tobacco from the Americas. It is no coincidence that many African American people have Scottish names.

Before I left, I spoke to the docents at the desk. I admired their museum and said we have not learned from our mistakes since the port of Houston is the hub of human smuggling into North America. They both looked at me blankly and I sensed that they felt I was taking something away from their story, which I was not. The ethnicity of today’s slaves may have changed and it is illegal but some of their stories are even more horrific than those in the museum. One of my friends, living a couple of miles from me, couldn’t get into her own street one day because of police vehicles. Her south-east Asian neighbor was trafficking young girls into prostitution but was living a regular middle-class life in an affluent area.

The next post will reveal a sunny and optimistic modern Charleston.

A typical cobbled alleyway in historic Charleston

A typical cobbled alleyway in historic Charleston

The day the Canadians took over Maadi

canadian-flag-large

When the second Gulf War broke out, we were living in Cairo, Egypt – specifically in a small suburb called Maadi. Many of the consulates were based there, including the Israeli consulate. It was very scary walking past there – Mossad agents look just like they do in TV programs. Westerners and other expats flocked to Maadi for the housing, situation and the Cairo American School.

Despite all the fear of the first few days, I was highly amused by how many Canadian stickers suddenly appeared on local cars. Were they really all Canadian or were they wussy ‘mericans? I stand out like a sore thumb anyway so there was no point in pretending I was anything other than American but I wasn’t stupid enough to shout it from the rooftops.

Even funnier, in my eyes, was that would be terrorists didn’t really care if you were Canadian or American. We all sound the same, don’t we, eh? I did think it was remarkably negligent that the American school had bright yellow school buses that stood out like a target.

On a more serious note, I feel so sad for all the innocent holiday makers that died on the Russian charter plane leaving from Sharm el Sheik. It is a lovely resort on the Red Sea that in happier times was incredibly popular with Israelis, would you believe? Russians and Europeans took advantage of the inexpensive vacations in a beautiful place.

Security is always high in Cairo International Airport but terrorists often look for softer targets which this would have been. RIP.

Letters from Cairo, A Kindle Book by Kerry Duncan