March 4, 2021…

I am awakened by knocks on my hotel room. I ignore them. I am in and out of sleep. The knocks stop and I check the time. It is now 10 am. Just as I am about to doze back, the phone rings. The operator tells me there is a medical team waiting to give me my arrival covid test. I didn’t know such thing existed, but hey, you can never test too much. I told her I need 10 minutes to get ready then to send them to my room. The team is two young (very young) women wearing makeshift colorful hazmat suits, that look more like overall onesies. They are fully gloved and double masked. They are carrying a black igloo cooler and a folder full of paperwork. One of them reaches deep into my nose with a swab. It’s a bit deeper than I expected. I wince. She giggles. I sign a few papers, answer a few questions, thank them and off they disappear. Results will come in 10 hours I am told. That’s how testing should be done! No hassles, no lines, no appointments!

I go downstairs to the hotel restaurant to meet with my handler, Ngima Sherpa, who will be guiding me throughout my visit to the Himalayas. He is sipping a cappuccino on the hotel balcony overlooking the city of Kathmandu with a pretty impressive mountain in the background which he refers to as “the hill”. We are looking over people’s balconies. Women are sweeping rooftops, tending gardens, hanging wash, rocking babies. The smell of incense is everywhere. Ngima exudes a spiritual gentleness. Maybe its just the setting but it seems genuine. His English is adequate. Definitely better than my Nepali which is limited to one word – Nemaste. We chat it up and he tells me about his adventures of trekking Everest. His family and two kids, 5 and 8. The trekking company he founded in 2005 to get people to fall in love with the Himalayas. I am loving this guy. His last name is Sherpa and he explains that Sherpa is not a profession, it’s a tribe that lives in many regions of the world. There are Sherpas in Africa, Asia, South America. He tells me about his life starting out as a porter, learning of Edmund Hillary when he was a kid and how he doesn’t understand why people want to summit Everest in the winter. It takes a certain kind of mind he explains. Time is just breezing by and I am loving him more.

We will be starting the trek Saturday he explains. Once we get the all clear with the test we are off to Lukla and that dreaded (i.e, thrilling) flight from hell (not the fiery kind) landing on that incy wincy teeny weeny airport strip on the edge of a very tall cliff overlooking remnants of wreckage from previous failed landing attempts! I will be oozing with adrenaline and I can’t wait!

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For Langston Hughes on His 123 Birthday

Speech given on February 1, 2024 in Havana, Cuba In 1927 Langston Hughes walked into a Cuba amid an emerging community of artists, intellectuals, and radicals.  He saw a “sunrise in a new land [– a day – in his words]sic – full of brownskin surprises, and hitherto unknown contacts in a world of color.”  … Continued

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Palestine Week 2024

January 18, 2024 – January 25, 2024 In keeping with our ongoing mission of uplifting racial and cultural connections, Busboys and Poets is hosting Palestine Week (January 18 through January 25, 2024). This week-long series of events will offer a diverse range of programming featuring Palestinian food, music, dance, poetry, discussions, and other enriching events. … Continued

Women of Busboys

Women of Busboys

Meet the fabulous women of Busboys and Poets #womenshistorymonth

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Everest Base Camp #19

The journey continues I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for coming along on this journey. Your comments were priceless. I really looked forward to reading them. I will be sharing photos when I get better Wifi, and have been sketching here and there. There will be more to … Continued

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Our Annual New Year’s Day Pajama Brunch

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Cuba! Busboys and Poets Travel Tribe’s Cultural Exchange (July 2022)

Follow along for the Busboys and Poets Travel Tribe’s Cultural Exchange trip to Cuba (July 6-13, 2022) Wednesday, July 6, 2022 1. Heading to Cuba – The Charter Flight By Andy Shallal (@andyshallal CEO/Founder, Busboys and Poets) It is 5:30am. I am at the recently renovated National Airport. AKA Reagan. But for the name, this … Continued