Back to Berlin
I landed in Berlin the weekend before last after an intense experience in Tunisia, after a short trip to Southern Italy (Ostuni to be exact) to visit some friends.

I think, generally, when someone asks you about an experience with 'how was it?' you feel compelled to say 'good' or 'bad,' however visiting a place that is so different than what you're accustomed to makes such a simplistic evaluation impossible.

In the end, I met a ton of brilliant folks, was able to hang out with the amazing team (in their amazing office villa), and got to get visibility into a very different way of life (although less different than you might think). I learned a ton and am so grateful to have had the experience. I'm far from an expert, but here are a few things I noticed:
  • Traffic lanes are mere suggestions (seeing people driving on the lanes/shoulders was commonplace and the traffic situation in general was chaos to an outsider)
  • Everything was extremely cheap (it's about 3 to 1 dinar to euro/dollar ratio, so a 20 dinar meal (which would be quite expensive) is about $7). It's a closed currency, which has all sorts of interesting economic/societal implications.
  • There are stray cats absolutely everywhere (which NYC might prefer to the rat problem). None were aggressive - most of them knew that people were the source of their survival.
  • Civil services are a work in progress. Trash covered residential streets, and seemingly-common bureaucratic institutions aren't fully established (apparently bribery is still commonplace). This has an impact on everything.
  • Modernity is present (despite what most of my photos represent). As an ignorant American, I didn't quite know what to expect when I got there, but there are high-class dining experiences, bougie french bakeries, amazing recreational facilities, theme parks, shopping malls, etc. (Bizarrely enough, Chilis and Papa Johns are two of the American exports)
  • The freeway system is intense and modern. Cars are almost the exclusive way to travel in Tunis (public transportation is still poor). Although traffic routing may not be optimal during peak times, the highway/freeway system seems newer and looks more efficient than what we have in the US.
  • It never felt dangerous. There are police, people are civil and kind, and obviously nobody wants chaos. I'd guess that the most dangerous thing you can do in Tunis is be in a car (which we had to do a lot of). The headlines of this region mainly feature terrorism, which is unfortunate (especially considering the statistical impact of terrorist activities worldwide).
  • There were far fewer homeless people than you'll find on the streets of SF (Just wanted to throw this out there)

🖼Here are some photos from the trip.

I've never thought so much about how hard it must be to kickstart a society/structure/economy that feels so dependent on outside resources and influence. There is a tremendous source of promise among the intelligent, progressive, and insightful young people that will be holding the keys to the castle soon. There is still a ton I'm not familiar with (especially when it comes to history, culture, and customs) but I'm sure I'll be back one day (preferably when it's cooler).

Cool things I've stumbled upon:
- An amazing article about research into new forms of life that extract electricity from rocks (we're glimpsing further and further into our evolutionary past)
- A cool visual guide to what's recyclable and exactly why/why not (So many things I thought were recyclable actually aren't)
- What is the internet anyway? A 1994 Today Show clip that will induce lols
- A crazy interesting interactive article on how the US utilizes it's land
- A short video interview of the scientist responsible for capturing a giant squid on camera (I'm sure you've seen the clip). Not only is the feat impressive, but the story behind it is actually insane.

Hope all is well in your world!

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