On my last trip to Nairobi in October, I had the misfortune of driving around town on graduation day for the local university. It was also the start of a three-day holiday honoring Jomo Kenyatta, the country’s first president. Traffic can often be heavy in this bustling metropolis that recently passed the 3.5 million mark, and on this particular day the streets were like a parking lot. I decided to step outside the taxi with a friend and walk back to my hotel. Hearing my Yankee accent, one of the graduates stepped in front of me and said, “Obama did well on the last debate, don’t you agree?”
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Never mind that the goddess of the Moon wasn’t cooperating. Swept along in a throng of hundreds assembled on the Yucatán coast to honor Ixchel, I was not going to be deterred from reenacting the purification rites, petitions for prosperity, festive dancing and canoe pilgrimage required to observe a centuries-old Mayan ritual. Petulant Ixchel might be stirring up strenuous winds and intermittent rain gusts, but the crowd was determined to pay her homage.