a short visit to Boston
January 2007

Just a week-long trip, so I didn't have a lot of time to explore.

I stayed near the large central park: great for early morning walks.

Autumn leaves above, and early blossom below - more signs of unseasonably warm weather.

I was finishing Wangari Maathai's book, and the battle to save Nairobi's Uhuru Park from developers.

Easy access to green oasis, with its gnarled and varied trees, was even more special as a result.

urban grey squirrel



Boston is an intriguing mixture of old and new, in somewhat haphazard way.

Small details from a back alley called Quaker Lane I stumbled across.



gravestones leaning on one another for company in the drizzle

Boston was a key location in the struggle to end British imperial rule.

Today it feels somewhat old-fashioned in comparison to Europe. Although America is often portrayed as the newer society, the other side of the Atlantic has been through more jarring and subtle revolutions since the USA's birth.

In other ways, Boston has a vaguely European culture. I met up with Amy (a bridesmaid at Kim and Myles' wedding) and we saw Jimmy Tingle's stand-up act. This was an good insight into political issues and immigration in the USA, as seen from New England, which is generally anti-war and anti-Bush. He also had a positive outlook and humour which I enjoyed. Nourishing stuff - a welcome contrast to some of the negativity and loathing in current US political culture.

street dancing act

Unfortunately I left Boston a day before the national remembrance day for Martin Luther King

Fate sat me next to Kate at Quaker Meeting -
we could banter in isiZulu and she showed me around the plush mansions and dodgy back alleys of Beacon Hill.

We visited an 'Underground Railroad' safe house -
used by slaves escaping to freedom.

I also visited the intriguing MIT Museum.

This covered the founding of this institution, later expansion with substantial military funding, and changes to its internal culture.

I was once fascinated by robotics, and some major milestone technologies developed at MIT were on display. Some now look clunky and dated, when they were once at the cutting edge.

Especially fun and unexpected were a selection of completely random and pointless but exquisite machines - including a contraption whose only purpose was to douse itself copiously in machine oil. Yum.


nighttime in Boston