Heyo! I’m Elijah! I’m a soldier, a software engineer, a traveler, and the first college graduate in my (ginormous) family. My blog has a lot of different themes, and you can filter through for the ones that interest you.
When I travel, I love to look at city centers, take public modes of transportation, sit at cafes while researching about the location, visit natural sites, and talk to people about their lives.
In the US Army, I am a member of the Maryland National Guard, in the Field Artillery. I was one of those ROTC kids in college and now I have a part-time role in the military and a full-time role in the software industry.
As a first generation college student, I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity I could. I started in politics (and you can see a lot of my views in the subtext of the posts) but took my first coding class in my first semester in college and switched immediately. In college, I joined the Army, worked as the mascot of the university, and got covid three times. I’m a big believer in the rise of class throughout our limited time on this earth. You can read a lot about my personal finances here.
Please leave comments or direct message me!
A Little Religion
Queens, New York
Back in New York! I’m here for the week pet sitting for my brother and sister-in-law for a birthday trip they’re on in Puerto Rico. While here, I went down to Manhattan a few times to meet with friends, drink, play poker, and talk. Yesterday however, I went to a religious event for young people in the West Village and it got me philosophizing.
For context, I’m not a religious person anymore. I grew up conservative Christian, but haven’t followed along for over half a decade. I’ll get into a little more detail in a second, but I want to give a little more context. I’m a very open person who wanted to try the Islamic month of Ramadan and read about the Quran while I was in Turkey. I also joined the Jewish fraternity in college and went to many events and talked with many people about religion. Mostly it stops here at Abrahamic religions, but I would be willing to learn more about others.
So this religious event yesterday was Jewish, and my name is Elijah so I was able to be a part of the event without drawing attention to the fact that I’m not Jewish. There was a half hour class where the speaker gave advice on relationships and faith. I sat around feeling jealous of the Jewish community. Not the first time! One of my favorite parts of talking to Jewish people is the “Jewish Geography” topic where you talk about where each person is from and try to identify other people you may know in common. It shows how well connected the Jewish community can stay even across a ginormous country like ours.
Community is really the best part of a religion. People around you who accept you and know you and go through life with you. Community is a reason to get into religion and stay in religion. If I wasn’t disenfranchised by religion, I would think that it would still be a good idea to find a church in Philadelphia to find that community again. But then I thought about the difference between the friend who invited me to this event and myself — after all, we are both very social people so what about the community got me off of religion while keeping him in?
In 2015, when I moved from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with my religious mother to Baltimore, Maryland, with my agnostic father, I still wanted to go to church. I loved my friends, I wanted to be in the faith. I went for a few weeks to a church and never got very attached to the community. It didn’t matter that it was a different denomination and very different political backdrop. It mattered that I couldn’t connect to people. That was never the same with my friend, who always had a religious environment and even going off to college had a supportive and fun environment that wanted him.
Apart from community, I also think that it’s good to have a moral compass and to not just figure out whether something is right or wrong by others based on how you feel at the time. But I’m not convinced that that’s where the church should come in. I want to share a quote from James Baldwin, civil rights author who saw the similarities between the oppressions by white people and the Christian church: “It is not too much to say that whoever wishes to become a truly moral human being (and let us not ask whether or not this is possible; I think we must believe that it is possible) must first divorce himself from all the prohibitions, crimes, and hypocrisies of the Christian church. If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.” (Letter from a Region in my Mind, James Baldwin)
Still, I can see the benefits of a religion between community and a moral compass. It would be nice if you could have those without having to worry about the theistic and political aspects of following a religion… There might not ever be an update to this post, but if there ever is, I’ll let you know!
The Goals of 2023
Goals are important to our growth and they give us serotonin with a sense of accomplishment. Talking about your goals though can be tough. On one hand, you get the advantage of someone else getting invested into your wellbeing and their questions about your updates are a good way to keep you going. On the other hand, telling people about goals that you have only just started or will start soon can give you that serotonin early. People feel pride in your future accomplishments without anything needing to be done on your part. You tell someone a future goal, they are proud of you, you got the serotonin early, and you don’t feel the need to work hard on your goal for that sense of accomplishment.
My philosophy therefore is to wait until you’re in the middle of your goals to tell people about them. Get out of the danger of feeling accomplished too early. I never defined this philosophy until now but I’ve believed it for a long time. In 2015 I was a freshman in high school and I learned about Ramadan, the holy month of fasting in the Muslim religion. I wanted to try it, but didn’t tell my Muslim teacher who’d taught me about it until halfway through the month. It was a real test of will, as I was still playing rugby at the time and couldn’t even drink water after the games or practices. This was a long story to say that goals shouldn’t be shared too early.
But now it’s May and that means that yearly goals should either be well on the way or completely given up on. So I feel like sharing a few of mine.
Every year, I have a goal of how many books to read. I didn’t read much in college, so I wanted to get back into it after graduation. I successfully read two books last year (The Miracle of the Kurds by Stephen Mansfield and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig) albeit by reading 100 pages in the last three days of the year. This year the goal was doubled to four and I’m almost finished with the goal already. I read Cuba: an American History by Ada Ferrer and War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells so far, and I am more than halfway done through my other two books: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker and The Lucky Country by Donald Horne. I probably have an accumulative 200 pages left to read between the two and seven months to go before the end of the year.
Another goal of mine is to travel. If you read the blog, this is one that I openly share the results of. This year I started in New York for New Years, went back to Oklahoma for two weeks, drove back to Baltimore, flew down to Ecuador, moved to Philadelphia, took a vacation in Australia, and plan to make my way out west in the late summer and spend a week in France with my brothers. A goal of mine is also to visit all fifty states by the age of twenty-five. This one is going to be tough and it might be one of those goals of mine that is absolutely accomplishable but I still don’t get it done. In the end, I’m sure I’ll have visited them all, but I’ve seen 41/50 and the nine that I haven’t seen are all in the northwest or Hawaii/Alaska. I’ll let you know if I get this one done.
Another goal of mine is with money. I know this is a privileged topic, and I won’t write specific numbers, but if you don’t plan to live in a higher tax bracket than you grew up in, are you really in the United States? Because of my need-based scholarship in college, I graduated debt-free. I invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that reflect the growth of the economy instead of trying to pick the winners in a brutal world of business. And I have only taken money out of my investments once when I was doing poorly financially after college before starting my job. Leaving your money in an ETF for many decades will leave you with more money than you started. I haven’t added money into my investments all year, which is a problem on my part. My goal was to reach a certain number in net worth by the end of the year. I don’t know that that will happen with my current trajectory and it certainly doesn’t help that I travel so much. I’ll also let you know at the end of the year if this was accomplished.
Lastly, I aim to be able to speak with as many people as possible, which means speaking their languages. (I know, someone from the United States who wants to speak a second language??) So I took French in high school and Spanish in college. I get to practice both of them this year in my travels, but here’s where I’m breaking my rule. I want to learn Mandarin, and I started only a few weeks ago. It’s a tough language and it’s a slow process. I know I’m writing it down too early but I really do want to learn and I think it would be a very helpful language to know. Keep me on track if I’m slipping!
That’s all of mine! I’d love to hear yours, so feel free to message me and I can ask you about them from time to time as well!
Sydney and Melbourne
Another adventure in the books, I’m waiting in the airport for my flight back to New York (through Tokyo again). I was in Melbourne for a day and a half, taking a surprisingly long train there (11.5 hours) and a much faster flight back. One Melbourne person told me that there’s this (probably made up) story of an American couple getting into Sydney and asking for a taxi to Perth (a seven hour flight). The man turns to his wife and says “the taxi driver says it’s on the other side of the island!”
Sydney and Melbourne have a long rivalry, which is largely unknown to the rest of the world that sees Sydney as the only city worth visiting in the country. Having visited both, I’d just like to give both of them their due respect and also contrast them with the short experience I had in each.
Firstly, I’d like to explain their rivalry. They are the two largest cities, and constantly compete for the rank of largest. Right now, apparently, Melbourne just surpassed Sydney by adding new suburbs into the city limits. However, I’d expect that to be a fleeting title since Sydney can also add new suburbs. On my two hour train to the Blue Mountains from Sydney’s central business district, I was in the city limits for over 80% of the ride. Also, at the time of choosing a capital, neither city was willing to be represented nationally in the other, so they had to choose a middle point and build Canberra.
Maybe it’s just my bias as someone who had only visited Sydney at the time of being in Sydney and had been to both Sydney and Melbourne by the time I was in Melbourne, but I’ve found it an unbalanced rivalry. Melbourne people loved to tell me about the rivalry with Sydney. No one in Sydney mentioned Melbourne. Even at the time of planning my trip, I assumed Brisbane would be more fun than Melbourne as a secondary city to visit.
I like each of them for different reasons.
Sydney is more picturesque. It’s easier to get around with their amazing metro system that you can simply tap your phone to get on and off. More companies that you’ve heard of have a Sydney office than a Melbourne office. More artists you’ve heard of perform in Sydney than in Melbourne.
Melbourne has a more unique culture than the very westernized Sydney. You could almost mistake Sydney for an American or British city in comparison with Melbourne. The laneways (roughly translated to alley but often too busy to be considered an alley) are integral to the energy in Melbourne and unheard of in the main parts of Sydney. Melbourne is more fun to go out at night and weirdly calls its neighborhoods “suburbs” even if it’s a 15 minute walk from the center of the city. It also proclaims itself as the sports capital of the world.
I would still consider Sydney the important city for international travelers to visit and Melbourne as secondary. I’d be impressed to hear about a traveler who was in Melbourne and only considering visiting Sydney. But I’ll say I had more fun with the Australians I met in Melbourne and wouldn’t have traded the experience for Brisbane if I could go back.
The Blue Mountains
“Your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness.” Maybe it sounds like something from a self-help book but it was enough to start a conversation with strangers at a hostel in the blue mountains of New South Wales. All it takes is the courage to talk to strangers and you can really learn not just great stories, but also more about yourself. Let’s rewind first.
On Monday, I arrived in Sydney, Australia, for the first time and went to a show at the famous Sydney Opera House. I met a French traveler named Samuel who also arrived that day and we agreed that the blue mountains would be worth a visit. Fast forward and he and I are on a train together heading to the mountains. After a gorgeous hike with pictures that you can see throughout this post, we decided to buy a rack of beer and invite people from the hostel to drink and talk.
We met a Swiss, a Chilean, an Australian, and two British travelers last night. Each of us were solo travelers. This was a new experience even for me, as most times people travel in groups, and this melting pot represented the mass of travelers who broke the barrier of needing to travel in groups. In one point of view, traveling with others is a mental block, and in another traveling with others is just more fun and you share memories for a lifetime.
The topic came up from a book the Chilean was reading that your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness. And because a great part of drinking with people that you’ll never see again is that you can be entirely honest about deep topics, I asked what peoples’ greatest strengths/weaknesses were. Getting to myself, I decided to go with independence. Now understand that in this company (unlike most), there was a great deal of independence as each of us was a solo traveler. But there were parts of my independence that even amazed them.
When I am in social situations, I don’t like having my phone nearby. Big pet peeve. To take it a step further, I often don’t keep my phone with me at all for hours at a time. This has been a big problem and one of the most inconsiderate things I do for the people around me, too. Recently, at an alumni weekend that I wrote about two weeks ago, I carried no phone on me to the real annoyance of my friends who wanted to be around me. To take it a step further still, in other countries, I don’t buy a SIM card at all. Take, for instance, the story of my arrival in Ankara.
Last summer, I was flying from Paris to Ankara (by way of Athens and Istanbul, importantly) to meet a friend who was working there at the time. I would arrive at night to meet her outside a Starbucks at a certain time. Unexpectedly, I couldn’t connect to the wifi at either of the Turkish airports. My friend hadn’t heard from me since Athens, and when I took a taxi to that area, I couldn’t leave without paying in Turkish Lira. At an ATM, I learned that I had forgotten to tell my bank that I was in another country. No money, no cell phone, no view of my friend, I decided to tell the taxi driver that the ATM wouldn’t work and we had to drive around to find another. Luckily, we found my friend on that drive and she was able to pay for it. But I hate to think about how long I made her wait outside in Ankara alone.
It’s easy to see how this independence is a strength and a weakness. On one hand, I get to go around the world and experience amazing places and people without needing to plan any of it. On the other hand, I rely on the generosity of the people around me. It won’t always be true that people will understand and accept my unwillingness to carry a phone on me. As people love to point out to me, I am a lucky person but the luck will eventually run out.
Quick Visit to Queens
Queens, New York
I’m going to enjoy telling you about the boroughs of New York City (most of my friends barely leave Manhattan), but right now it’s time for a spontaneous trip to Australia! I’m currently at JFK International Airport in Queens after taking the train to stay last night with my brother and sister-in-law who live in the city. It was a pretty rough week working up to this vacation, working a 17 hour day on Wednesday and still working on the train to New York last night, while watching a movie at my brother’s apartment, and even this morning. But the work is done and it’s time to vacate!
Shameless plug, but if you’re in the military and don’t have a travel credit card, you’re missing out. Great travel cards like American Express Platinum, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and Capital One Venture X are expensive but with tons of perks, and yet free for members in the military! One perk is airport lounge access, which I was excited about for today but JFK Terminal 7 lounges don’t include the pass that I have (get better NYC airports!).
Quick note before you go to buy the free cards after seeing that great news! This paragraph is about my opinions of Capital One as a product consumer and not as an employee. Capital One Venture X is the only card that I listed that is free for the military IF you already had the card before joining the military. It’s super silly and I haven’t found out who to ask about it yet in the company. I do not recommend that one for this reason, but I want to note that I do (as a consumer, not an employee) love the checkings/savings accounts because the interest rate in the savings account is great and there’s instant transfers and no overdraft fees. So take my personal financial advice with a grain of salt!
And now in the name of spontaneity, I have to figure out what I’ll be doing in Australia this week. I half-expected to rent a car and drive from Sydney to Brisbane but this week got hectic and even though you can get a same-day international drivers license from AAA, I forgot to get it done ahead of time and will continue to use public transportation for this trip as with all other international trips! Buses in India, planes in Turkey, trains in France, boats in Ecuador, and who knows what in Australia! Come back next week to find out!
Move to Philadelphia
In the last three months, I got back from a trip to Ecuador, started working for the National Guard and for Capital One, moved to Philadelphia with two of my siblings, and just this past weekend revisited my alma mater for an alumni weekend. I think it was important to give the work and move a decent amount of time to get used to things and to let them ramp up. I’ll talk about each generally.
My understanding of what the National Guard did was very limited. Even among the ROTC students at my school, they described the experience briefly and negatively. Now, I’m an optimist, so I expected that it would be different and it’s still pretty early to tell. These first three drills were field weekends, each out in terrible weather, but also each giving me more insight into the Army outside of the training and doctrine command. My favorite memory so far was when a tornado warning came on during our mortar firing and we had to move to the barracks before the weather got to us. We were on a hill and could see the clouds approaching menacingly with the deep drop in temperature and the strengthening of the winds. We got to a truck that would take us to the barracks but not before a torrential downpour that left us soaked for the rest of the night. Incredibly, by the end of the half hour uncomfortable, bumpy ride with eight soaked soldiers in the back of a medical vehicle, the rain had already stopped and the skies were clear. Fun.
I also began my time as a software engineer at Capital One, working for a data infrastructure team. I’m in a rotational program called Technology Development Program, with one year in this team and a half year in another before getting to choose between them or going somewhere else. My team is very kind and understanding about my youth and inexperience in the field, and yet still very positive about my performance so far. Just today we figured out future work for me to accomplish that would go along with the goals in my head (more software development, less configuration files). Also, the Philadelphia office is not even open yet, so I still have my first experiences of working in an office coming next month!
When we moved to Philadelphia, I did a lot of research about neighborhoods and landed on Queen Village and Northern Liberties as my two favorites. Looking for housing is tough in February, so while I think Queen Village is a cooler neighborhood, we settled into Northern Liberties and have loved the quick walks to the cafe, grocery store, gym, bars, and restaurants. Just today, we finally got a dining room table and a poker set, so we are getting ready to be able to host soon! I’ve loved Philadelphia for so long and can’t believe I finally get to call it home. The one problem I have is that I moved to a city where I didn’t know many people. It’s been a slow process, but my siblings and I have probably made enough friends by now to make poker nights a possibility. We’ll see!
Last bit of the day is that this past weekend I spent in Baltimore with my friends who graduated with me in May, 2022. Something annoying that I do is that I won’t bring my phone with me when I don’t need it and want to just enjoy the company around me. I carry an ID card and a credit card and nothing else at all. Jokingly, my friends have offered to put a tracking tag on me so that they could know where I was even when I couldn’t respond. Despite my lack of phone, I was able to let the wind blow me around the campus, always meeting old friends and always finding my way back to the couch I could crash on.
Won’t add any pictures this time, sorry!
The Galapagos Islands
Isla Baltra, Ecuador
Here is the last leg of the journey through Ecuador, once again written from the comfort of the airport. The Galapagos Islands are wildly different from each other in every way (I guess Charles Darwin already figured that out but humor me). If you fly through Isla Baltra like I did, you’ll probably end up paying close to what I did ($135) to get to your hostel in Puerto Ayora (and even more if you’re staying on another island). I never did research beforehand (as I tend to do) so I didn’t know about the $100 foreigner tax, the $20 it took to tell them I wasn’t bringing anything with me, the $5 for a bus to a port, the $1 to cross the port, and the $5 for the other bus to Puerto Ayora. Also the $4 it took to take out this much cash from the ATM. But once in Puerto Ayora, you may actually be rewarded for not doing research beforehand.
When you get to the touristy town of Puerto Ayora, you’re met immediately by shops, restaurants, and everyone trying to get you to do a last minute tour. Good thing they didn’t expect me to book something beforehand! I talked to a gentleman across the street from my hostel and negotiated tours of Isla Pinzón and Isla Isabela for chances to see flamingos, giant tortoises, sharks, octopuses, penguins, crabs, blue-footed boobies, huge seals, and very colorful fish. You really can’t believe the biodiversity of this incredible archipelago. They warn you that you may not see every animal, but I’m a lucky guy so I took my chances and got to see all of them. The funny part was that there was only a single penguin and a single flamingo (the Polish group nearby joked that the tour agencies chained the birds to their spots so tourists could see one).
On the tour of Isla Pinzón, it was just me and a group of Ecuadorians (one of whom spoke English but everyone had the patience to repeat themselves in Spanish to talk to me). We snorkeled and swam with sharks, seals, turtles, and fish and they taught me some important phrases in Spanish. One such phrase was the play on words “el amor de mi visa” (love of my visa [not life: “vida”]) since the American passport is so sought-after. We had so much fun!
Later on, I went to a cafe and talked with the owner and her friend for a while. They told me to come back later to say hi. They helped me with my nerves of getting back to the airport (there’s so many steps, if one goes wrong will I have to walk?) and I got to share all of the crazy animals that I saw on my tours. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for people who have the patience to listen to my Spanish or French and still try to talk to me.
One last thing before I leave, but the Galapagos Islands are known to divers as being a particularly amazing place to dive. I never did any diving, but my Polish friends informed me that as far as their pictures and videos went, it was one of their least favorite places to dive. They’d been to Cozumel, Thailand, across the Caribbean, Australia, and Europe and loved each destination more than the Galapagos. Regardless, it’s a magical place where the tortoises easily live 150 years and can extend their necks like giraffes, so definitely still a place to visit!
Now I’m heading back through Guayaquil, Quito, and Atlanta to get back to Maryland to begin my journey in the National Guard. With all of the layovers, I’ll be traveling for 30 hours. The adventure continues!
Here I am again in an Ecuadorian airport thinking back to the incredible experiences that got me here. Guayaquil is an incredible city in so many ways and probably holds a higher space in my memories than Quito did. For reference, Guayaquil and Quito are the two largest Ecuadorian cities (I’ve seen conflicting sources saying each is larger so I’ll leave it at that) with two very different styles. Quito is a mountainous town on the equator so the climate is temperate while Guayaquil is a coastal city with a giant boardwalk and a thriving downtown.
Another noticeable difference between the cities is a feeling of safety in the center of town. I was told by many people in Quito to stay inside after dark and always watch my belongings. On the contrary, I felt happy to walk around Guayaquil’s center of town (alone, albeit as a male). The craziest contrast to my experience is that at the time of my visit, the U.S. state department advised against my visit to Guayaquil and had nothing to say about Quito. Oh well!
After strolling the Malecón 2000 boardwalk, riding on the Aerovia to Duran and back, and reading with iguanas walking around, I had the opportunity to talk to an Ecuadorian yesterday who told me a lot about the politics and culture of her country. Although not nearly as tumultuous as neighboring Peru, Ecuador’s politics are full of stories of corruption, intimidation, and even murder. However, everything I know is from the lens of a single Ecuadorian so I’ll leave it at that.
The food I’ve had has been really incredible, super cheap, and surprisingly filling as I usually don’t even finish my plates. Some great dishes here are ceviche, corviche, bolón (I’m told I ate one at a bad shop), tigrillo (particularly amazing), empanadas, and crab (a special treat for a Marylander to see). I actually had so many shrimp dishes that I’m trying to remember if there was a day in Ecuador that I didn’t have shrimp. Not sure! But anyone who enjoys food destinations would love Ecuador.
Although I haven’t visited Baños and Cuenca (and won’t for this trip), I can say Guayaquil was my favorite city in Ecuador. All I have left before my return to the United States (to include my first National Guard drill weekend and my move to Philadelphia for my first job post-graduation) is to explore the Galapagos Islands! Here we go!
As I’m sitting in the Quito airport looking back at the past three days of adventure, I can say that Quito is a truly colorful and vibrant city with tons of people who had the patience to listen to my rusty Spanish skills! It’s really been an adventure in this city even if I haven’t been able to experience what a weekend would look like for people here. Before I head to Guayaquil on the second leg of my journey through Ecuador, I’d like to share a few details and stories.
First, they drink instant coffee here! I’m personally not into instant coffee much (and admittedly I didn’t know that Ecuador doesn’t produce nearly as much coffee as its neighbors to the north and south) but I enjoyed the act of stirring the powder into a steaming cup of milk. Actually, I was looking it up and this cafe posted a little about why instant coffee is so popular in Ecuador. Pretty cool!
Next, one of my best friends told me that Cotopaxi was his favorite part of Quito, so I was really excited to see it. However, I wanted to use the buses to get there because adventure. After a while I was afraid we were getting too close to Latacunga on the bus and I might have passed the national park entrance. Luckily there was an Instituto Cotopaxi that a few people were stopping at. I figured it’s probably a museum and entrance. After walking around for a while, I realized it was in fact a high school. Whoops! Embarrassed, I took the next bus into Latacunga (only 18 kilometers away, definitely passed the national park…), got some ceviche and a walk in, and got back on the exact same bus that took me south. Altogether, I’m pretty impressed with the buses of the Quito city and metropolitan areas— I never waited more than five minutes between getting to a bus station and being on the road (maybe a coincidence but after five or six buses I’m convinced).
Lastly, I stayed in a hostel in the historical center of the city, only three blocks away from the presidential palace, Carondelet. I’m not sure where I would have read about this, but I’m putting it out there: every Tuesday at noon there’s a ceremonial changing of the guards at the palace, where the grand plaza is filled with police and military of what felt like ten different uniforms. During the ceremony, the vice president came out with a top general (an officer told me that he thinks that the president was in Ecuador that day) so I got to see all of that! Also there was a national police mass around the corner where two police officers carried puppets. You can see what I mean in the picture in this post, but when I looked up what it could be about, all I saw was this true tale of when Ecuadorian police used puppets to calm down a crowd ahead of a World Cup qualifier. If it works, it works!
Now I’m heading south to the main port of the country, Guayaquil. I look forward to telling you more about that!
Stops in Mississippi and Alabama
Today I drove from Shreveport to Birmingham, making a stop in Jackson, Mississippi, for a quick visit to the state capital (I keep a collection) and the civil rights museum. The museum was very deep. The part that caught me off guard was the section dedicated to the lynchings. You walk around fake trees and when you move to certain locations, a loudspeaker shouts an angry southern phrase that makes you shake in your shoes (“Do you know who you’re talking to?” “I didn’t hear a ma’am in that sentence!” “You come here right now!”). It was genuinely frightening. The museum did a great job.
When I continued into Alabama, I was pleasantly surprised by Birmingham. Walking around, I saw lots of bars and clubs in the main downtown area. It was still early (only 6-8pm) but there were already plenty of people making their way around the area. I gave up finding a barbeque place and settled on a joint that had really good spicy miso ramen. I made a friend outside while I was waiting. He had lived in the city for the last decade since he went to college nearby.
Something interesting my friend taught me was that the suburban part of Birmingham is referred to as “over the mountain” since there are mountains that separate the (largely black) city from the (largely white) suburbs. According to the Brookings Institute, Birmingham is one of the cities with the most quantifiable white flight.
The last place I wanted to go to was the botanical garden, but it was already dark when I got to Birmingham so I ended up not going. Regardless, here are some pictures of it that I didn’t take!