Saturday, September 30, 2006

Leaving Africa

hello folks-----well i will be leaving africa tonight late tonight and flying to paris----then a butt splitting lay over and to chicago and home----even in lome here the tour group has kept me on a tight lease so i havenùt had the freedom to roam and explore things as i would like that is of course my big frustration with this trip---safety and sights in return for freedom---oh trust me it has been a hard bargain some days---i decided once i get home i will share some stories from africa and my adventures for about a week and then post some pictures which i hope have turned out so i can share some sights with you too-----right now i am just happy to report i am mostly well--i hqve also been biten by the infamous spanish fly and have a row of blisters up my leg----and my stomach is holding--- i canùt tell you how i look forward to eating with out fear---for a whole month i have had to question what i am eating and drinking--pausing to assess whether its good for me or has potential for causing disaster---if i was solo well i might have been more adventurous but when you have a tight scehdule you dont want to stop the whole caravan cause you have the shits---lol------and indeed they cant stop for you so when your stomach feels rumbly you have to assess which of the cars you will drive in--- bad stomachs go in the four door cars for quick exits and healty folks take the most restricitve two door cars----most days you travel four or five to a car including the driver----so its a tight space and in the desert there wa&s of course no air conditioning in the cars---too much of a demand even in these souped up vehicles----im looking forward to cool weather not hot or humid---there are days in the sahara i experienced temps of one hundred and fifteen degrees in the shade---and you might say hey what was it like in the sun and i would tell you the heat was so draining that i couldnt and wouldnùt stand in the sun to answer thqt question---lome is coastal and therefore hot and humid with beautiful sand beaches--- in fact i could turn around from the business center here and see the waves crash--no one is the beach very much heavily polluted with sewage in the water and high rip tides so its maddenly enticing with no results---lome is a tough african city----in my hotel for example which is frequented by airlines folks and business men --when i travel to my third floor room---there is a guard at the elevator---and a guard which sits on a chair every hundred feet---i pass by and they stand up and say bonjour madame---i feel like the prime minister or a diplomat---they also do this because apparently in the nineties---togo and lome were as famous and thailand is now for the sex trade---and they dont want working girls around---aids and political instability appararently knocked out a very presperous economy which has never recovered----but when i walk down the hall---sometimes these white business guys are walking around with tall elegant blacks beauties thqt somehow dont look like their wives-----i also got to dine last night at one of our tour leaders houses---amazing---heavily gated community where our black muslim driver from mali was asked to turn the interiror car light on so the gaurd ccould look him over---we the white folks in the car were okay but they wanted to check him out----we scowled at the gaurd in a dont you dare question this man with us----but that is part of this africa too-------at the party you could see a form of living we dont know in the united states---a business man and his wife who are doing well which equates in africa as meaning you have a cook housekeeper gardener and driver and an extra security guard who sleep outside your compounds door---very interesting---- well my time running out here on the computer and i have depleted my cefas the currency here so it means saying goodbye and hoping to tell more stories and share pictures in a day---and being home---i am ready to come home

Thursday, September 28, 2006

IM in LOME I made it

I made it I made it    i am in lome togo after a long drive   and a very intense voodoo ceremony we stopped to watch where a roosters head was bitten off live by a guy and gun powder was exploded randomly   but perhaps that is a fitting end   i have seen so much and experienced so many things i dont even know where to begin to retell this tale::::: perhaps the first thing i will say is that i reek so bad i can not believe i could possible stink so much and im sitting here in the business center with business men looking all smart and clean and when i move my arms to type i can smell myself ooohhhh la la ---my new favorite expression---i need some serious scrubbing----i will be in lome tonight and then will leave saturday late night to paris---arrive in paris on sunday and then fly home to chicago and then little rock------at least i think that is what i do---i am seriously suffering from a bad case of african brain where i swear to god all my civilized knowledge has been erased---i could barely remember my password to get into my account---but that has been a problem since i came here and others i know have suffered from it too and also african hearing loss really ---people talk to you and you see their mouth moving and you say what and they are speaking english::::lol-----well i gotta shower and peel off these clothes-----i have serious concerns my money belt has embedded itself into my abdomen----will write again

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

by the time the hour was up....i knew it was getting timeto water was down to a liter.....and god the heat was just radiating off the rocks and sand......i wrap completely up.....cheche ..that is desert headscarf completely covering my head and face and neck....long sleeve shirt.....and pants pulled all the way down....i carefully and slowly walk along the sand....if youwalk too fast you sink down and trust me sand burns like hell on your feet.....i am plodding slowly along.....when i look up and there is short stubby mamamdo with a small jerry can....he speaks only french but appoaches me and im sure tells me off a bit...something to the effect of you know crazy white woman you are walking in thedesert at noon......he insists i drink.....and then we walk back to camp little bit of french has been a godsend and i have discovered i am good at pantomine.....he asked me how many children i have and i guess from his pantomine that is wife is pregnant and maybe there will be a baby when he comes home....mamado walks much quickerthan i by the time i am to camp i am totally hot red and ready to faint.......he points to a sliver of shade near a boulder and i snuggle up against the rock in the shade....catching my breath and drinking a few minute mamado appears with something covered up in a towel.....he pulls it off....pasta and bread....of course what else would you want at 120 degrees when you heat weary..... but i eat....slowly....but eat knowing mamado is being a good mother to me....after i amfinish i lay down again...but no he has other plans....he sticks out his hand and grabs mine....and points up to the top of this rocky high hill we arecamped next to....i don't understand what he wants me to he just tugs on me and says come....i do...and we crawl up rocks.....overhuge black boulders.....up up up....until i see what he has in  mind....there is a shallow cave...a ledge tucked high at the top of this hill/mountain......mamado spreads a mat.....and tucks me inside....fills my water me my pack with my notebooks....depite the cheche i can see his eyes smile.....he is a happy man....i have been fed watered...and tucked away in the yet i cant escape him or the military which are hiding in rocks beneath for the afternoon i enjoy my perch....high in the desert...watching the shadows change on the landscape...hearing someblack birds caw above me....the heat is so intense when the birds fly down lower...there is a swooosh with each flap of their wings...i write....i dream....i think of people....but mostly i just exist in my little cave...on my little ledge ...high in the middle of the sahara..with my cook and my small army protecting me......such a good day.

another day in agadez

whew my second day in agadez on an english keyboard that barely works....ah africa.....since i don't know how long this connection will last let me at least write to you about one of my favorite days so far.....the nature of the travel is that we get up and breakfast then travel by car..lunch rest by car .....arrive set up camp and eat dinner and go to me tell you the sahara is big and its all done off road or by piste basically some tracks in the sand....if you arelucky.....i am glad i brought sport bras because really my breasts would have been bumped off long time ago......but anyways we were at the djago plateau amost beautiful plateua of rocks and sand and acacia trees and some short shrubs because of the recent rains.....when it wasannounced we would not be moving for a whole day the next morning i announced that i would stay at camp and write....this caused some alarm in some folks in the group because if i stayed did that mean i knew something and would have an experience they would not?    but they all left....except for mamado the cook and three military the north of niger we were traveling with 8 armed military men as an escort....bandits....smugglers....and the strangegoings on that happen near the border of libya and chad ....make thisa lawless and a bit of a dangerous land......i sit at the camp table and write for a while and then tell mamado i will go toite droit ...straight ahead into the canyon for two hours.....oh he doesn't look happy....mamadois a second cook and mother hen and you can tell women shouldn't be walking around alone in the badlands... but off i go.....and it was wonderous....a beautiful canyon to experience then after that the edge of the plateau where i could see the desert and a far distant oasis for miles......i found a ledge in the shade safefrom scorpions and least that i could ascertain and laid down on my private world just trying to soak up this ancient land....i was thinking perhaps even nohuman had sat here before or looked at the scenery here fromthis angle yet there i absolute wind no birds no sound and no smell the desert is so clean you smell nothing.....and then i heard it a soft plop....i had seen chevral tracks.....small mountain lion tracks....and gazelle....another plop.....and lo and behold one of the military men equipped with automatic rifle and full camoflague gear and flip flops....had tracked me......just to make sure i was oka...i didn't get annoyed at the intrusion....iknew they had my welfare at stack but i thought it was kind of funny to be tracked down by a tuareg military man.....he checked my water supply....i even showed him my treasure a hot libyan pepsi....and in french we negogiated i would return in one hour......

Monday, September 18, 2006

i have made it through the desert

hello everyone i am in agadez niger i have made it through the desert in mostly one piece   have been biten by a strange acid fly thqt dissolved a couple of small pieces of my skin and pulled a tick off my nipple this morning  ah life in the desert   the sahara is incredible so vast so complex in scenery which changes often so dynamic it is hard to describe the vastness the peacefull the hard jagged meets dunes that look like soft serve icecream  i got to camp on one of the highest dunes in the desert absolutely incredible and cool temperatures and so much wind i had to snuggle down in my sleeping bag lest i get blown away   too hot to stay out in the sun but i can tell you some times when we stopped it was one hundred qnd fifteen degrees in the shade  i wear a cheche all the time the wrap around cloth you see in the movies it is a life saver you sweat with it on but more importantly it protects you nose and mouth and humidifies it which is a god send    have eaten wild guinea hen camel and fresh sheep so fresh i heard them kill it but it fed our entire crew and in a way you feel a particular kind of gratefulness for the life given thqt you never feel in the supermarket   group dynamics are at times for me a suorce of frustration lots of time its like being at a chit chat social  a forever bunko party of lite social interaction there are stories here but i wont type them now   we headed into the desert in a mind boggling rain storm were we had the potential of being marooned for three days but we were one of the lucky ones that escaped the havoc of overturned trucks and chaos then we hit a sand storm but a quick one   last night as if it was a bookend to the desert we had a sudden storm thqt blew so fiercely i ducked in the car because at some point it hurts like hell our table flew up and hit one of our group members in the head but fortunately it was small   i admit i particpated in a cheesy thing and rode a camel for an hour i was given one of the great whites   the ones i had read about the tallest and biggest of the camels and i screamed once it stood up my god you cannot believe how tall a camel really is until you are on one  he was quick and i said a lot of hopefully soothing things to him while we rode so he would stop trying to kick me off   things a guy likes to hear lot oh you are one hunk of a good looking guy and wow you are big really big maybe it worked because i we arrived at our destination in one piece together   i must go because i have to return to the hotel i hope to blog tomorroz before i head to the tribal lands

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I'm Worth 300 Hundred Camels!

Today in the old medina with a very tunisian and accomplished tour guide---i found my net worth ----he looked me over----and decided blonde with breasts and hips ---although slightly used--gives me a net worth of 300 camels----im not sure if that is a fair price--although it does sound a bit impressive---ive emailed hub the amount so if anything goes wrong here in the desert---at least he knows what to aim for in bargaining----

the rest of the group arrived and perhaps its best not to say too much at this point---so i dont get rigid in my thinking but to say the group is eclectic and eccentric is probably right on---one woman already seems lynchable---and the travel point game continues---but since everyone spent the first day---dedclaring the status and points----it is a bit better---but a lot of conversations start with----when i was southern (FILL IN COUNTRY) in the town of (fill in) with the ____tour company----------------this is what happened to me-----and there is still alot of time spent talking about which up coming trips to take and with whom---almost like trading cards in a way----believe it or not---i actually get quiet since i have nothing to contribute and am way too involved in this experience to even judge much more besdie the next week

now one fun thing i did do----is i asked the guide if he could arrange for me to smoke a hooka--the bubbly pipe--next door in the cafe----which he did and he qnd the long island girls and the canadian woman and i went a smoking----my god we were laughing so hard at passing around the pipe---the all male cafe shussshed us---and we got a lot of stares---apparently we were holding the hookas with two hands which is what women shouldnt do in public---as you are holding let say an object and sucking hard---those of you with gutter minds---can fill in the blanks---it tqste wnderful----smooth and clean and the bubbly noise is quite relaxing----except if you continue to laugh---and cant hear it----and enjoy it----all of a sudden a police car pulled up and i said oh ho thats it---probably alberto the tour guide will be jailed---but they just let a guy off who most live above the cafe----the tobacco is mushed together with honey---and it goes through water with a bit of apple juice so it taste a little fruity-----

tomorrow i start my killer days of travel----and then i arrive in the desert----i fly to casablanca have a long layover---hop on a midnight flight to niamey niger and then hop a bus to agadez----then we meet the cars and the supplies and i go off into the desert for i believe fourteen days before i emerge out again in agadez which i hear may have internet connections----so this is it for a while-----i wish i could type all the small details i have learned and liked qbout tunisia---the people have been so so very nice and continually underscore that islam is a peaceful religion and they like americans---non sales people have said that so there is nothing in them for saying that----the town i went to last night along the coast was so beautiful it appeared like a movie set instead of reality----well gee i best shut this down for a while-----i feel almost a bit weepy----another time for me to type ----off i go