Time for new dreams

It worked. I surprised the hell out of my family, and then they returned the favour by smashing all ideas I had of having functional Kiswahili. It was so commonplace to walk back through the doorway, into the central courtyard, up to the front door, and in to great my family for the first time in years. Eight years to be precise.

Marshed was a small, intensely bright and hilarious 14-year-old when I left, and he has grown into a tall man with a deep, bellowing voice – he was changed so much I didn’t even recognize him. Zahor, the brother closest in age to me is 27, and lives in Norway. We get along quite well, and I’m quite happy that he is home for break from university. Shinuna looks exactly the same, so much so that I kept looking at her to make sure that she’d aged since I left – hard to tell. And Maryam au (or) Chachi, as she is called by her children, has the same spritely spirit watching over her flock. Her children are the world to her, all eleven of them.

After about 10 minutes of conversation, we were all clear that it’s going to take a couple of weeks before I can sit in the midst and understand all of the words flying to and fro. Fortunately, the family is very well educated and all speak multiple languages in most cases including English. So, when I need clarification or explanation due to depleted conversation skills, I can ask quite easily with little problem.

Last night was the fourth night of ZIFF, the Zanzibar International Film Festival, and so we went down to the Old Portuguese fort to check out the shows. Films were playing in the outdoor ampitheatre, and a large stage with a dhow behind was decked out for the music. We saw an American Jazz band called Apex USA, and then a couple of different young Zanzibari groups: the first was a dance group that was pretty good, mixing hip-hop, Brazilian, and East Afrikan styles together quite well; the other, a four-man rap group throwin’ rhymes in Kiswahili. This is a celebration which needs to include ankore at some point in the near future (http://www.ankore.com/ for those of you who don’t know). All of this under the Southern Hemisphere stars made for an incredible return to Zanzibar.

Speaking of the return, I can’t wait to get you all photos of me flying co-pilot on the six-seater I decided to take out to the islands yesterday. Francois, the South African pilot, flew us through 17-20 knot winds (I have no idea what that really means beyond being really damn turbulent), and landed us safely at Zanzibar Airport about two hours after I arrived in Dar-es-Salaam yesterday. Kathryn picked me up at the airport with her friend and driver Senga, a large young guy who was quite nice. I’d upload the photos now, but I fried my battery charger, and my phone charger all in one fell swoop – I thought that I had voltage protection on my goodies, but apparently I did not.

Today, I’m moving all of my stuff over to the house and will start to nestle in for the next few weeks. I’m helping Kathryn and her NGO on Saturday (NGO being non-governmental organziation, and her’s specifically being ZAPHA+ which is an organization that works closely with delivering Zanzibaris living with HIV and AIDS anti-retroviral drugs, food, and care). Besides that, I don’t really have many plans. I’m supposed to meet up with this cat Mahmoud who works with helping the street kids in Stone Town get off of drugs, and am going to see what I might possibly be able to do to help him out.

The pace of life is slowing down, and I am just trying to sit still as I wrestle my way back into my skin. My memories are fading away as I run down the streets of a past which grows more dim the more places and people I encounter from the past. Was I ever even here? I remember the smells, the rain, the heat, the damn Indian pied crows, and the beautiful Zanzibari smile and laugh, but the memories are dissipating and being replaced with the here and now. I’m so glad, because my memories are full of pain and at other times also cast in a very romantic or idyllic light. It was a very difficult time in my life when I was here last, and while some of those memories will probably take awhile to leave, I can already feel some starting to leave and allow room to heal a part of my soul that I believe could only find remedy here.

With that, and a hungry stomach about to search out some fish and rice, I leave you all to a great day…

Nimefika Nairobi

I have arrived, safe and well. The flight wasn’t nearly as painful as I thought that it might be. It was pretty bumpy all the way from Amsterdam, but I passed out a little ways in, after watching some movie which I can’t remember now.

After a long line at the airport getting my transit visa taken care of (only $20 US instead of the normal $55 for full Kenyan visa), I headed out, braved an airport bathroom which was actually really clean, and then headed out to find a teksi to take me to the Panafric Hotel. Some woman locked eyes with me as I was walking outside, and came up to me asking if I needed a taxicab to head into Nairobi. It was as if she was the driver’s agent, and she motioned for some guy to go grab his car.

Continue reading Nimefika Nairobi

JFK – Amsterdam

So, we’ve been up in the air for about 2 hours, roughly 5 hours left, and I’m starting to wane on energy. It’s really only 9.44pm from the time I’m leaving, but 4.44am where I’m headed. I’d like to get adjusted as soon as possible, because jet lag when traveling halfway around the world is a real kicker. When I arrived in Zanzibar 8 years ago (sans luggage which is a story I hope does not repeat itself) it took me about 3 days to fully acclimate myself. I’m banking on something a little quicker, and plan on having a run early on Wednesday morning before my flight to get the blood flowing and the oxygen pumpin’.

My long legs were noticed coming onto the plane apparently as a flight attendant came up to me, knelt down and said, “Perdon me, bit do yous speak English?,” to which you know my response. “Well, if you’d lika, you can move to seat with much more room for your legs, as I think you’re the tallest person on the flight. I’ve been checking.” I smiled, checked the seat, and quickly moved before take-off. ‘Twas definitely nice at first, but myself and the French couple next to me have grown quite tired of people using our row in the middle of the plane as their secret ninja route to the other bathrooms on the opposite side of the plane. The legroom sure is nice though – I’m fully stretched out – now if only the kid behind me would just take some sleeping pills and nod off, we’d be golden.

Continue reading JFK – Amsterdam

Toronto, Day 3

So, I’m running around town with Morgan and Tierney, and have spent a perfectly beautiful Toronto day plowing around the town. I spent some time up at the conference earlier in the day, as I had a few meetings that I needed to attend, but then the afternoon was spent freely bounding along the subway/train system up in a place called Kensington Market. We ate some tremendous Thai food at a place called Hungary Thai where they serve weiner schnitzel alongside pad thai – odd combo if you ask me, but the food was incredible, and the fresh juice was insanely good as well.

We headed off to a park, and spent a half hour in the shadows resting, lounging around. It feels so nice to have some time to myself, just to sit and mellow. I have a little bit of work that I have to accomplish tomorrow at the airport, and on the plane, and preparations that have to be made for my trip which starts in about 40 hours, so it’s been so important to get to clear myself of all the overwhelming emotions surrounding my departure.

Continue reading Toronto, Day 3

Toronto, Day 1

We arrived safely in Buffalo, although our flight was a little late. Our friends Tim and BJ offered to have us share their hotel room for the night so that we could avoid driving up to Toronto so late at night. We decided to just push on through, and we went to pick up our car at the rental counter and picked up an upgrade to a soccer-mom Toyota mini-van and three guys trying to make their way up to Toronto as well. Turns out, I knew one of the guys, and we all have a bunch of friends in common.

It was a pretty simple drive, and definately was painless crossing the border. We stopped at Tim Horton’s, which is a scary chain that is found everywhere on both sides of the border, for soup, sandwiches, yogurt and berries, and donuts. Oh, and the peach passion drink that almost was forced on Emily and Zephyr (one of the three guys) by the lady at the counter who looked like she was going to start bouncing up and down with excitement when they asked her if the drink was any good.

Continue reading Toronto, Day 1

On the plane

It’s Wednesday night, and I’m sitting on the plane next to a sleeping sister Emily, and oddly enough, directly behind two sets of friends who boarded our plane when we stopped in Vegas a few hours ago (Tim H. and the elder Klink from the northern part of the state, for those of you who run in similar circles). We’re all headed the same place, and I’m guessing that a majority of the plane is headed to Buffalo en route to Toronto, ’cause we’re saving hundreds of dollars avoiding Toronto as our plane’s destination city ‘ I’m sure others followed the same path.

On a dumb ass note, I forgot my registration badge and information for the conference I’m attending in Toronto. Something tells me it won’t be a problem to replace ($15, little sister tells me), but I was hoping I wouldn’t have to sit in any lines due to brainless mistakes. On the flipside, the registration and an extra pair of contacts are the only things I forgot, and my sister-in-law is next-daying a couple of extra pairs of contacts to my friend Betsy’s house in New York where I’m staying for 24 hours Sunday-Monday.

I have my passport, moolah, yellow fever vaccination card, a huge epinephrine shot (should I go into anaphalaxic shock from the yellow fever shot – lol), and underoos. What else do I need’ Everything is packed. I’m looking forward to arriving in Toronto, getting a little bit settled, sleeping for a spell, and then rising for a nice morning run tomorrow before heading into the conference. My legs are sore from sitting in this damn seat all afternoon, and my body just feels out of sorts because of all of the crazy running around I’ve been doing for the last few days.

Something tells me I’ll have internet access for the next four or five days, so y’all can expect to see posts/emails between now and then. I’ll spare you the boring day-to-day shit (like this email) and will just hit you up with the few large email/photo blasts. I hope everyone’s well.

One of the best days imaginable

My day has spun backwards and forwards, been full of confusion, tears, laughter, love, and friendship. It seems like everyone has called today – but it’s been a very peaceful day as well, where everything has just fallen into place and each leaving-the-country-tomorrow type of crisis has been met and dealt with quite quickly and easily. It’s such an amazing thing. Thank you to each and every one of you who took the time to send your thoughts and prayers and to all you who made it a point to hang out in the last couple of days – I don’t know if I can explain how much it means to me….

In the right place, to be sure

Late yesterday, I discovered that my first investigation into the required immunizations and innoculations was missing an important piece of information: if you enter directly into Tanzania, you don’t need a yellow fever vaccination card, but if you are entering multiple Sub-Saharan African nations, it is required.

So, I’m sitting in the back of a cab in the mid-wilshire district en route to go get some injections (I’d be on the red line, but there was a gas leak at MacArthur Park).

In any case, my morning was spent on the Gold Line next to a lady named Jewel who spent part of her late teens in Kenya and Uganda. Her parents were in the foreign service. Apparently her father was a teacher who worked in conjunction with the education systems in those respective countries. I guess they actually entertained Idi Amin before his rise to power, when he was just a guy with ideas…not a mass-murdering f$#%head. Much how my dad’s aunt entertained Saddam Hussein in the late 60’s when he was just a wealthy business man looking into trade and economic partnerships with the nation which would one day bring him down – maybe Ruth cooked him a bad meal. Ha, what if?

Continue reading In the right place, to be sure

Tayari? Ehhh, hapana. Not yet.

It’s a late Tuesday night for me, as I’m trying to make some preparations for my holiday (leaving for Toronto a week from tomorrow, and then hop on a plane on the 4th of July bound for Dar-Es-Salaam in Tanzania). So I’m trying to get my packing list completed, and have started getting things organized and crossed off the list.

As for the trip though, I haven’t been to East Africa since I left at the tail end of 1996, and something tells me that things have changed quite drastically since I left. The face of the world is a bit different, and being an American in this world certainly has new meaning abroad. I’ve been jokingly toying with the idea of plopping a Canadian Flag patch on my bag, though I don’t think that’s going to actually happen.

Last night I went down to me mum’s place to hang out with her, as she’s leaving in a couple of days which means we aren’t going to see each other for about 6 weeks. I know it’s only a 4 week vacation, but it seems like such an extended period (and such a short spell, at the same time) to be gone from family and friends. Add to that, my wonderful little niece Maya is growing and changing every day, and I feel like I’m going to be missing years of her youth by dissappearing for the month of July.

Continue reading Tayari? Ehhh, hapana. Not yet.

Thanks for a great year!

I just wanted to drop a wide-sweeping thank you to all of my friends, clients, co-workers and all of the visitors for making this the most fun year with 417north. I have thoroughly enjoyed working this year, and am really looking forward to moving into 2005. Roughly 167,000 visitors this year – thanks to each and every one of you.

In a good way,
Greg

I broke my wallet :(

My wallet broke. It’s funny how that works, but it just fell apart, and landed on the ground. As if Xmas shopping wasn’t enough, a new screamer from Colfax Intl and Adobe Studio CS have broken my wallet. Things are rolling good over here, getting the new identity, site, stationary and all that madness set for the new company – should all be ready around the middle of January. For now, I’ve updated the portfolio…Feliz Navichristmas folks!

A crash in the night

My system crashed about a month ago, and all of my source files are still locked in some demented timewarp called my old harddrive. Everything is fine, I suspect, but I just haven’t had the time to get things back up and running yet. The crash was the impetus for me buying a new system – a spanky little IBM T42 with all the works. So, I can’t really mod my own site beyond updating the XML streams; lovely, I swear.

In any case, ankore has launched. Have fun.

A busy summer

We have just launched two sites in the past month, CondoProperties.com and the BLK/MRKT Gallery site. We also have two pending: for WBR recording artist Jody Breeze and illusionist Jonathan Bayme. There are four more in the works: new sites for photographer Michael Ballard, WBR recording artist Kenny Wayne Shepherd, independent recording artists ankore, and an identity system and site redesign for Baskin & Grant, LLP in Santa Cruz, CA.