Seeing the real side of Detroit

By Amina Mamaty | 4/10/13 6:53pm

Two weeks ago, I had to exercise my touristic skills in a city I have wanted to visit for a long time: Detroit. You might wonder what is so exciting about visiting it. Well, what is so exciting about the Eiffel Tower? I can see it every day and really don’t think anything special of it.

As a foreigner, as unbelievable as it may sound, going to Detroit has been on my checklist for a long time. I have heard so many things about the city, which has built my excitement over the years. From different people I heard it was dangerous, that there was nothing to see, that Detroit was the most beautiful city around here.

While in the U.S. I’ve had the chance to travel around a little bit. I got to go to Miami, New York City, Columbus, Cincinnati, Boise (yes, in Idaho), and Chicago. The Windy City, which is not too far away from Allendale, has always shown me a good time. However, I have realized that when in town, I’ve never really seen what I wanted to see. It is fun to shop and mingle with other tourists between the towers and what not, but there is more to it.

My friends from Chicago do not spend their day shopping downtown or at the museum when they are at home, just like I don’t spend my days eating croissants and crêpes, or going to the Louvre. A tourist is, I guess, not supposed to see what is behind the magic of all those gorgeous skyscrapers, but a little curiosity never hurts. Why not put yourself in Simba’s shoes and ask, “Tour guide, what’s that shadowy place?” Mufasa told his son to not ever go there, but clearly he had to experience some things outside of his territory for him to know. It couldn’t be that bad.

I believe this is a prime example of why some of us nowadays are so close-minded and oblivious to this world. We are protected and tend to protect others from real life situations, but I will keep it for another column.
When you think about it, cities are all the same. There is always a poor side, a richer side, downtown and a “dangerous” side. In Detroit, my friend Vonnie took me to places where regular young ladies of our age from Detroit would go. She actually didn’t show me Detroit, she showed me HER Detroit, and I loved it. I came back telling all my friends what I had seen, where I have been, and what I ate and they could all relate to it.

This visit definitely changed my mindset. Now when visiting a new city, I will only allow myself to see the deep heart of it and make sure I mingle with more of the population than the cashier of Forever 21.

This summer, a couple of my friends are traveling to Europe, and I cannot wait for them to come to France so I can show them how we do it in MY Paris.

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