Saturday, June 12, 2010
Out of Africa
I really should do these blogs more in the moment. So that I haven't processed everything I felt at the time...and basically, over it by the time I start typing. Unfortunately, jumping on the computer when traveling abroad isn't the easiest thing to do. I'll start here:
I took a separate flight from the rest so that my return could be into Atlanta at a reasonable price. Saddened to leave Paris the final night, after a leasurely flight into Dubai and passing several prayer rooms, i realized I ain't been no where. First world is so limiting. Knowing my way around Paris isn't that exciting. Revisiting the same restaurants and nail salon in Milan isn't the hype shit. Going to a familiar waxer in Prague is okay, I guess. I can refer someone here and there. Same pubs in London. Same pubs in Dublin. And while the spa in Berlin was fresh and something new, I been going to that same hotel for 10 years with the same casino and same concierge. Yes, familiar faces but nothing....new.
Until I landed in Dubai and saw a world of other colored folks where white folks was the minority and it was....amazing. And this was just the airport. And by the way, women traveling alone with computers and working in the business class lounge ain't no thing. Didn't look to me like the women where forced to cover themselves. In fact, the women in Hijab sho nuff rocked the new patent leather hot pink Gucci pumps and I don't think there was a problem any where with that.
And that's just the beginning of my journey.
I now realize why I was afraid to go to Africa. I'd gone to tangiers, which is like saying you've gone to Mexico when you really only visited Tijuana. Landing in Africa made me so humble to all that I had not seen and didn't know. And to a self-proclaimed 'know-it-all', that of course affected me deeper than I thought. And so I cried. And cried and cried. Cried in business class, cried walking into the airport. Cried at customs. Cried at baggage claim. I cried when I needed to stop at the gas station for tampons. Cried talking to the chauffeur. Even though it was dark out it was bountiful and beautiful and I don' care if people called it "Africa Light" I was in Africa for the first time.
The real fear was how I was going to hold my tongue around all of these "pop" people and their perception of Africa and not be defensive. Our group was already warned about how dangerous it was and how unsafe it was and how bad the race relations were....and my tongue hold went right out the window...."bad race relations since when? Apartheid cuz it ended only 16 years ago? Which race relations were you talking about?"...."well, like, we can take a taxi in Paris but Johannesburg is a different story"...wtf....please stop talking to me.
Oh, and how about them sending a security guard with us everywhere we went. here I am, black and with a fucking Afrikaaner security guard....where? The fucking anthropological site. A cave. The restaurant at the mall. I told him to stay. He told me this was very different from where I came from. Why? I asked. Cuz the foot on their necks no longer works so now you perpetuate this perception of danger? 'You will do what I say. If you have a problem you only speak to me." DUde. Really don't fucking talk to me. You're blowing my trip.
Then I calmed down since I was in front of all of my wardrobe guys and people I work with and went ahead with the security guard.
And then we hired a tour guide.
This nigga starts the tour with "how joburg became the great nation it is. It was the 1800's when the Dutch....."
Thats about when I started playing video games on my phone. Before I fully frothed at the mouth, we pulled over at a gas station where I had a full on discussion with the tour guide:
"Dude, are you Dutch?"
"No, I am Zulu."
"Well looka here, I ain't finna spend this whole day listening to how the Dutch and British were so great. Either start telling me about South Africa pre-1800's, your tribe, your family, or Imma leave you at this fucking gas station."
At least he started telling the truth. And I started probing with more questions than he cared to respond to and more answers than the rest of the car needed or cared to hear.
Then we get to the cave. Quietly. Secretly blending or so we thought.
Needless to say, the body guard was heading up the rear whilst in the cave...."we're waiting for the bodyguard" says the guide.
"Who has a body guard?" says this Indian South African woman.....
"No who has a bodyguard"
"I'll rush him" I blurt out.
"Seriously?" she asks, "you guys have a bodyguard?"
"Security. It's all the rage during world cup. I thought you knew." I came back.
She laughed and told her husband.
The 2nd reason I didn't want to be in Africa.
We sped through Soweto since it was supposed to be sooo dangerous. I made them stop at a market and got it IN. They tried to rush me. I told them, once again, to fuck themselves, and bought random shit just to make them mad.
Then we stopped at the Mandela House where they got some kids to sing the national anthem. I stayed in the car. I couldn't bare to watch them take pictures with kids and give them 50 rand for it.
We went to dinner where I planned my escape from the security dog. He sat us at a table and told us "don't move. I will come back and check on you and get you as soon as you finish. We ate too much beef and i took off to buy wine. Dipped through the crowd, past the giant Mandela statue....that muthafucka had to search for me til I was good and damn ready. Fucker tell me what to do. Then when we got back to the hotel, the muthafucka had nerve enough to rush us, talking about his 12 hours was up. I told him he shoulda took a taxi from the mall then. The nerve. The utter NERVE.
We then went to the villa that the principals were staying at and ROCKED it til the bricka bricka break of dawn. Only to find we were too sleepy to get up and go to the safari at 8am. So we pushed it to 10am. Then didn't leave until 11am. And then we got there at noon. Talent arrived so it was understandable to have an extra armed guard. But 2 of them? Where they going to cap the rhinos? At least these guys were much cooler.
The safari was what was Africa Light. them muthafuckas got us good. And NO cheetahs. But the baby white lions were juicy. I wanted to steal one.
I have more to discuss, but I'm sitting at the hairdresser in Atlanta and I can't get into it. I need to press publish already.
Next blog. Africa part Deux - Strip clubs and sushi bars.