Thursday, October 16, 2014

October 3rd - Two steps forward, One step back

Everyday I move two steps forward and one step back, changing and progressing.  Yesterday, while at work, I talked to a woman about the Peace Corps, and what it was like.  After my spiel, she told me a story about one of her past co-workers who was in the PC in Senegal.  She went on to explain how on one day she brought him food from Senegal, and they shared a meal and ate together.  He was very appreciative and felt at ease.  It brought him back to a comfort he had not felt in a long time.  Likewise, when our conversation started to wane she said. "You're still there, you're not completely here." My response was, "I'm fine, things are good." She looked at me and smirked, and said. "Ok, you're not completely here, a part of you is still there." I paused and said. "I'm good, but things are not exactly the same. I'm back in NY and everything looks the same, smells the same, but I'm different, so things are not the same.  "It's ok" she said. I shrugged my shoulders, and cracked my wrists as I twirled them in small undulating circles, and replied with a simple matter of fact "Ok." During this conversation I had an overwhelming feeling of being a fish out of water, plucked from the pond, even though I was comfortable.  On some level I realized that mentally from my perspective I feel ok, but sometimes, I'm projecting a mood and atmosphere to others that clearly comes off as uncomfortable; something is a bit off.

While walking to school with my boss to teach English I talked about this to her.  We talked about how our inner emotions do not always reflect our outward portrayal of our innermost being.  There needs to be a balance.  When there is no balance, people can pick up on these things.  This conversation and the previous conversation were great because, it enabled me to look outside of myself and assess what is really going on.  It made me address how I was really feeling.  To be truthful, I'm ok, but I'm not ok, I need to put more effort into being present and truthful to the core of my being.  I need to bring out the characteristics of my soul that blossomed in Africa, and meld them into my everyday experiences.  Instead of trying to adjust, I need to walk forward with who I am now, not who I used to be before I left.

Our personalities change everyday in tiny slight ways.  Over a span of time, be it days, months, or years we are somewhat unconscious to this moving of the soul.  However, when we look back, it is a revelation when when we notice, who we really were, and see how we have grown.  In the mean time, I'm going to take one day at a time, just being me, bridging the gap between how I used to live, and how I'm living now.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

What was Africa like?

People always ask,  "What was Africa like? On the surface this seems like a simple question. Truthfully though, this question is quite difficult for someone who has been gone for 2 1/2 years to answer. Here is an example of what goes through the mind of someone who has lived abroad for an extended period of time when the, "What was _____ (insert any country) question is asked:

1. Where do I begin?
2. How do I put 2 1/2 years worth of experience in a simple response?
3. Ummmhhh so, what are you asking exactly?

Here is the typical response:

1. Africa was great! I learned a lot, and had the opportunity to meet and work with a ton of really cool people!
2. Ramble on for 5 minutes while the person looks on dumbfounded, by the words that are coming from my mouth.
3. I was a PCV who lived in a rural village, and taught English in a school to young pupils.  I lived in a hut, and had an amazing family who took care of me.  We farmed together, ate together, and spent a lot of time getting to know each other.

On paper these responses seem ok, but don't relay to the person how amazing and awesome living in Africa  truly was.  You feel as if you're not able to portray or give proper justice to the past 2 1/2 years. Next, you think about some of the extraordinary things you've witnessed while living in the village.

1. Staring up at the sky at night, that's filled with millions of stars, and counting the stars as they soar by.
2. Sharing a meal of Nshima with a family member or a friend that brings you closer together.
3. Playing and singing with the children in the village while chasing chickens, and laughing along the way.
4. Working in the field with your entire family, while shooting the shit on a cool breezy morning.
5. Speaking the local language in town, while you barter for food and clothes.
6. Going out to drink and mirror dance the night away with your friends.
7. Having deep meaningful conversations with friends or total strangers, where everything is open for discussion.

The next time someone asks me "What was Africa like?" I'm going to say - It's an amazing beautiful country, where people are always smiling, laughing, and a willing to give a helping hand when in need.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I'm Coming Home

I left my notebook that I was writing in at Saman Hostel in Medellin.  Medellin was nice. I had a lovely conversation the last night I was there with Patricia. I enjoyed the city and the sites, but it was time to go.  There was too much drugs and poverty in plain sight.  This disturbed me deeply. I wanted to help, but did not know what to do. With 3 days left I traveled to Cartegena to see the coast, and the old town.  I bought a notebook on the first day I arrived.  These are my scrambled writings the last few days.


2 days until I fly home. Cartegena  is quite beautiful. I'm in the San Diego area which is touristy but nice. It's really hot and humid here.


Whenever I see
A plastic bag
Floating in the air

 I tend to sit and stare

Upon the angel of wind
It thrashes to and fro
No path, No cares

Its future


Tomorrow is the last day of travel.  It's been a good trip. It was slow at times, and fast at times. I sort of can't believe this is the end, just when I was starting to get real comfortable moving on the road.  On another note, my replacement has reached her site.

18:30 - Salsa Club

Organized group dancing = +

19:43 - Song Lyrics

Every dog has its day
Find a place to shine
Pieces of a broken heart
Tossed into the sky

Where you're going
You don't know
Following the Sun

Precious times
Holding Hands
Two become as one


4 meter wide street
Lined by glowing lights
Corridors of today
That lead to tomorrow

Humid heat
Everything melts
Sweat drips like
Icicles at dawn
Slowly and Surely

Street Vendors
Push Carts
With Styrofoam boxes
Keeping liquids cool

Music pumps
Bombastic from the
2nd floor and filters
To the streets below

Horses with wagon in tow
Pulverize ground

The stars above
Whisper speckled blessings
As sea breeze
Tousles Colombian flags

San Diego
Is calm but livid
Serene and awake
Pushing, and Thriving
Through the darkness


Tomorrow I fly out and leave Colombia and go back to America with some change in my pocket (about 500 USD.)  Prepare for the worst, expect the best!! It's been a journey and all things come to an end.  Celebrate in the fact that you have made it this far. Be free!!!
First Corona in 2 and 1/2 years tastes amazing.  Can't wait to get back to enjoy more!!!


I'm waiting in the airport for my flight. It's hard to believe that I'll be home in less than 24 hours.  It's strange to finally reach this far.

An image conjured up in my mind.  I'm at home. We're having the welcoming party. My mom asks me to play the guitar for everyone.  After much prodding, I finally pick up the instrument and start playing.  In the beginning of the second verse she starts swaying back and forth, and singing loudly to some unknown rhythm.

Reaction 1: I stop playing say "Iwe !!, I mean Imwe, are you really going to distract me at this moment."
Reaction 2: I laugh and smile, nod at her and keep on playing.
Reaction 3. I put the guitar away and leave the room. Upon entering the room again I say "Let's try this again."
It's gonna be a trip.
Yesterday, I was told by Emily, that I have a European accent. (She's from California)


Rule Breaking

Why do I break rules?

Example: Leaving your luggage unattended to go to the bathroom.

Reason: I believe in the goodness of people and the respect of others property. I feel someone must be extremely desperate to steal luggage.  I believe in the good of humanity. I am saddened when I witness the nature of evil.  Like Patricia said.  All the bad people who are not kind hearted, decent human beings should fall to their death in an earthquake; the ground will just swallow them up.
This next step in life I need to go forward with the things I want to do. Playing guitar, writing, making t-shirts, and helping the world.  I need to put forth true effort and not think about how people perceive my art, but progress in my own fashion.

24-7-14 (about to board the plane)

It's sort of funny. I feel like I have nothing substantial to write about the close of my trip.  There are a couple of things you learn while traveling.
1. The world is a safe place. All those places that you hear are dangerous are no more scary or precarious than those dark back  alleys in your own neighborhood.
2. Hostels are great places to meet people, because people that stay at hostels are open and have a sense of adventure.  This moves them to explore the world and travel.
3. Airports are great.  They are like tiny villages where everyone is happy and willing to answer a question or lend a hand.  
4. Do not drink the water unless you are used  or have an iron clad stomach. A bout of diarrhea can quickly turn south. You could also pick up giardia which is 10 times worse.
5. Travelling is great. You get to immerse yourself in different cultures and realize that there is more than 1 way to crack an egg.
6. Everyday is a new adventure where literally anything can happen.
7. Make no plans, but plan ahead.
8. Learn the local language. This will save you time and energy trying to get around and buying things.  It will also help, so you don't get ripped off.
I don't know what I was expecting to feel at the end of this trip.  Happy to go home. Relieved to go back. Anxious, nervous, and excited to see all my family and friends. Estranged to how I will react to things in the US.
How will my relationships with friends and family be?
I don't see America as my home right now. Will this pass? Will this stay?

7:30 (In terminal about to board the plane)

Something is different, Something has changed
Encountering angry American. Some guys cursed out the lady behind the flight desk. He made a scene :(
I was patted down to take a plane back to the US. When I was abroad I was never patted down.
I slowly feel things changing. I'm not the foreigner anymore.
Little kids are not terrified of you.


I'm back in the states and it feels really good.
I'm at the terminal with people going to NY. I can see the NY in them, it's pretty awesome.  It brings a smile to my face.
It's nice to see Americans again, especially the black ones.  There are black people wherever you go around the world.  We are international.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

3 Reasons why should travel by bus while moving accross countries

3 Reasons why should travel by bus while moving accross countries

1. Busses are much cheaper than planes. You can save money, and use your well earned funds to buy delicious food, and drinks.  

2. You´'ll get to see amazing landscapes acroos the way. Imagine your window as your own portal into a brave new world. You will see all those little towns on the map that are not in tour guides. You will actually, get to stop in some of them and mozy around. Maybe you shall find a hidden gem.

3. You can sleep. When you wake up, you will be at your final destination, ready to hit the streets running!!!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Travel Alone is Never Alone

This morning I woke tilted my head back and peered out the window.  Dark clouds loomed endlessly  in the atmosphere, so I went back to sleep. When I woke up for the second time I pulled myself out of bed and took a shower.  After bathing  I realized how bad I smelled, and counted the days on my hand since water had touched my skin, it was totaled four.  I thought to myself  ''eh not bad, I've done worse.''

Anyways travel alone is never alone. Over a breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, toast, and coffee, I struck up a conversation with one of my dorm-mates who was eating nearby.  We talked for a while about a bunch of things, and then I asked, ''are you travelling alone?''  He grinned, pushed his hair out of his eyes paused, then said ''yeah, but travelling alone is never alone.'' He went on to explain that when you are travelling by yourself staying at hostels and using public transportation you tend to meet people and sometimes end up travelling with them; this happens all the time.  He went on to describe the nature and mindset of of these situations. When you're travelling you meet people who are open minded, friendly and are happy to invite you on their adventure.  Just today I have met three people who are down to explore Bogota with me, and have given me travel advice for the future places I will visit here in Colombia.

On the flip side when you're travelling in groups your experience is quite different.  While writing outside I met a guy from France who is living in Spain at the moment and travelling through South America.  We agreed on the aspects of travelling alone, but he added on to the conversation. He said, ''when you travel in groups your mentality changes.'' The group keeps to themselves, they're not actively looking as much to add to their group, even though some people will join them for stints at a time. They're comfortable  in their social circle.

He then went on to talk about, how after living in Spain for a year he was shocked at how uncivilized people in France were to tourists  and immigrants after arriving back.  I think it left a sour taste in his mouth.  He even said that when he was in New York it was the same.  The French people congregated in packs and kept to themselves.  Birds of a feather flock together.

What have we learned? Travelling is great, you'll meet all sorts of new people from all over the globe and go on adventures and share new experiences with them.  When travelling in groups branch out a bit, step out of your comfort zone, and meet some people; the world is an amazing placed comprised of unique and interesting individuals with different experiences. There is much to learn from just talking to other people. Try it out sometime !!!

And so it Begins: Communication Breakdown

As stated in my facebook post I`m creating a blog about "chronicling life after PC."  This blog will be a place for me to share my views on my journey back to America and my transition.  This blog is also a place where anyone can feel free to express their views on a myriad of subjects, ranging from culture diversity to social interaction. It`s really strange writing this on a computer in Colombia at Fulano Backpackers, due to the fact that everything I write is underlined with a red squigly line because I should be typing on Portuguese.  

After traveling from the Vale do Capao to Palmieras and driving across the country side I made it to Sao Paulo to catch a plane I arrived at the airport.  This trip took about 3 days in total time. When I left Vale de Capao which is a serene hippy town reminescent of Nkhata Bay in Malawi I ended up staying in Palmieras because there were no busses heading  out to Rio the next day.  So I slept, lounged around, played guitar, walked through the city, had Brazillian Chinese food, and waited on the phone for Bank of America to past the time.  The next day I boarded A bus which was supposed to take me to a crossroad, where I would have to take another bus to reach Rio. Long story short, the bus driver didn't tell me when to get off so I proceeded to read Stephens Kings, The Green Mile and take short intermitent naps while reclining in my seat. After reaching Rio I took a taxi to the airport and explained to Emirates my situation which was solved after a pleasant conversation and a short negotiation. Thankfully no exchange of money occurred.  If you talk to people and get to know them and build trust people will always help you out.  After a 20 siesta in the airport where I wrote, read, and ate delicious food I boarded the plane to my next destination Bogota, Colombia.  

After arriving I met some people went out for beers, and discussed in length many topics, but the kicker was mainly about the inequality we witness in this world on a daily basis.  In every country inequaltiy is a problem.  In third world countries it explains why life is so tough for the poor and so easy for the rich.  This discussion went on for a while dicing and slicing this topic in many different ways. For example education is readily available, but it`s not equal.  Someone who has a lot of money can pay to send their children to private school and insulate them against the harshness of the world while feeling no strugge. Whereas someone that does not have enough money to send their child to a private school must rely on the government to or public services to educate their children.  In third world countries the disparity can be easily seen....