National Parks Senior Pass: Get it while it’s cheap

 

The National Park Service’s Senior Pass is good for admission to all of America’s incredible national parks — for life — and it’s only $10. But only until Aug. 27. 

Remember how it felt to be a high school senior, a college senior?  It was an exalted status in large ways and small (at least until you had to start repaying your college loans).

You almost felt, dare I say it, privileged.

Well, if you’re a US citizen age 62 or older, you’re privileged again. For the cost of a Senior Pass, you get admission to more than 2,000 recreational sites run by:

  • The National Park Service
  • The US Fish & Wildlife Service
  • The Bureau of Land Management
  • The Bureau of Reclamation
  • The US Forest Service
  • The US Army Corps of Engineers

That includes all 59 national parks and 24 national recreationa areas across the United States.

For life.

The one-time cost to you: $10. That’s it, that’s all. No renewal fees.  Nothing. Ten George Washingtons. Done.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?  Well, it is. Because after Aug. 27, that $10 fee jumps to $80.

As you might expect, there currently is a run on Senior Passes across the country, but the National Park Service has plenty — and Americans are snapping them up as fast as park rangers can collect their Alexander Hamiltons.

To get one of these magically cheap lifetime tickets to America’s natural wonders, you have two options. The cheapest is to go to the nearest of those 2,000-plus national recreation properties and buy one in person.

The other option is to order your pass online. The feds will tack on an extra $10 for processing, raising the total cost to $20. Not as good as $10, but still a lot better than $80.

If neither of those options work for you, there’s one left, an annual Senior Pass for $20 a year. Still not a bad deal.

There’s one other benefit to this Senior Pass that I neglected to mention: Anybody entering the park with you gets in free. 

So not only do you get the mother of all bargains while taking in some of the world’s most spectacular sights, but you also get to be really popular with family and friends.

You can find more details on all this at the US National Park Service.

Meanwhile, as you rummage through your excuses not to check out a network of national parks that is the envy of the rest of the world, take a look at the video below of Yosemite National Park and remind yourself of something:

As an American citizen, you own this.  It belongs to you.  And your family. And your friends. Come up some time and check it out.

And bring Grandma and Grandpa with you.

Africa: The Brazilian Connection

The flow of culture between The Mother Continent and South America’s largest country runs both ways.

Wherever you set foot there and for as long as you live, Africa will always find ways to amaze and surprise you.

The latest surprise to me came as I was preparing information on a nine-day tour next year to the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau.

Adventure? The country boasts pristine forests, wild rivers, unspoiled beaches, the world’s largest continuous line of mangrove forest.

Culture? Try the Bijagos Islands, an archipelago of 88 islands, of which only  20 are inhabited. Because of their isolation, the tribal culture there has survived into the 21st century intact.

But this was what stopped me in my proverbial tracks: “Carnival is the main festivity in Guinea Bissau.”

We’re actually talking here about Carnaval. As in the Carnaval of Brazil.

Say what?

The African roots of Brazil’s biggest cultural festival are a well-established fact. But those roots have reached back across the Atlantic all the way rto Africa — some by choice, some not.

The trans-Atlantic slave trade took more captive Africans  to Brazil than anywhere else, upwards of 4 million over three centuries, many of whom were Muslims of the Yoruba and Hausa peoples.

It must have a been a bizarre relationship — West Africans, often Muslims literate in Arabic, being worked and brutalized by slaveholders who often couldn’t read or write in their native Portuguese.

Some fled into the jungles to form Maroon communities called quilombos. Others rebelled, most notably the Malê Revolt of 1835.

The revolt was crushed, and the open practice of Islam eradicated. Many of the surviving rebels were deported to West Africa.

Over time,  many Brazilian slaveowners — for commercial more than moral reasons — opted to free their slaves. Slavery in Brazil ended altogether in 1888 — partly in fear of another Malê Revolt.

Many of the newly freed remained in Brazil and develop today’s rich heritage of Afro-Brazilian culture. Others returned to their ancestral homelands.

Some returned to Nigeria, where they remain as both Africans and Brazilians to this day.  Others went to countries like Guinea-Bissau.

(At the same time, there are significant numbers of native-born Angolans, whose ancestors were a major source of enslaved Africans from Brazil to Louisiana, who today are opting to migrate to Brazil.  )

So around the time that Carnaval is being celebrated on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Salvador, Bahia, you’ll find similar celebrations going on in Afro-Brazilian communities up and down the coast of West Africa…including in Guinea-Bissau.

For more information on that, and other cultural tours in Africa, visit  Trips by Greg.