Saturday, May 30, 2015


Watching an orange Lamborghini pull up at the stop light behind a yellow Ferrari.

Oh this place is far too rich for my blood.  Just dropped $25 on a plate of veggie food at a restaurant. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Arrivederci Milano! You are such much more than a delicious, dark-chocolate-filled wafer cookie!

Meanwhile, pizza fritti, who knew this was a thing?  Delicious. More Italian gastrodiplomacy please.

I will end this Italian Holiday with one final thought: Buongiorno!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Hermitage II

"At times in my life I have sought hermitage, generally by running off to a foreign country where nobody knows my name, place where I could go many days without speaking to a soul, and many weeks without hearing my native language. Whether prompted by a dull job,a romance gone sour, or a general sense of all-encompassing malaise, each trek has been a welcome escape. And each time I travel I see enough fascinating things to reignite my appreciation for the beauty of life.

But I have always fled society out of anger rather than joy. It is not a calm, reasoned rejection of the World of Illusions, merely frustration that the illusion isn't pleasing enough. Perhaps that is why, when the anger burns itself out, I always come back.

I've got it all backward, of course. I sever all attachments, slough off possessions, home, friends and family, tread the road with no destination in mind- but only for a time. I use hermitage to restore my love for the world, not to break free from its hold."

-Jonah Blank, "The Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God"

I posted this a few years ago, but it rings true after my sojourn in Zanzibar--a bit of hermitage that brought me a bit of peace.


". . . So then, yours is truly a journey through memory!" The Great Khan, his ears always sharp, sat up in his hammock every time he caught the hint of a sigh in Marco's speech. "It was to slough off a burden of nostalgia that you went so far away!" he exclaimed.
-Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

And thus Marco Paulo returns to Italia.  It has been many moons since I found myself in fair Italy.  The last time when on my first backing adventure through Europa.

Italy was the last stop after sojourns in Holland, Germany, the Czech Republic and Hungary.  I knew Italy was special when we arrived in Firenze, and I had my first cappuccino in the train station--I had never had anything like it.  I can still remember the velvety smooth foam on my lips.

My friends and I met some Portuguese girls and hung out at the Ponte Vecchio and visited the Duomo.

From Firenze, we made our way to Roma for our last stop on the adventure.  We decided to rent motorscooters to ride around Roma for our last day.  My friend Ben almost crashed, so he and Joe gave up; I was in love with the city, and wasn't getting off the bike until you forced me.

I drove around Roma all night long, past fountains and piazzas until the sun rose over the celestial city and its many hills.

I don't think I was ever the same.

Leo Africanus said of Rome: "Holy city, but full of impieties; idle city, but one which gives the world a masterpiece everyday."

I would agree.

So after almost 16 years I return to Italia.  To Milano, which is new to me. 

What the World Costs- Tanzania

Free: Beit al-Ajaib (The Palace of Wonders)
100 Tanzanian shillings ($.05): hot ginger tea outside the mosque
200 Tanzanian shillings ($.10): small coffee outside the mosque; mishakaki (small beef skewers) on street
500 shillings ($.25) hand-press sugar cane juice; Zanzibar chai on the street; spiced coffee; chicken skewer
700 shillings ($.35): young green coconut
800 shillings ($.40): bottle of coke
1,000 shillings ($.50): cone of soft serve ice cream; laundry per piece at Haven Guest House
1,200 shillings ($.60): beef soup on the side of the road
1,500 shillings ($.75): bottle of Kresta bitter lemons at Forodhani; shot of Konyagi (local gin)
2,000 shillings ($1): biryani; skewer of chicken at Forodhani Gardens market; nutella and banana Zanzibari pizza; 2.5 hour dalla-dalla from Stone Town to Paje
3,000 shillings ($1.50): skewer of tuna at Forodhani Gardens market; beef, egg and veggie Zanzibari pizza
4,000 shillings ($2): 500ml bottle of Tusker in Zanzibar; cone of gelato; cappuccino at Boboo Cafe Zanzibar
5,000 shillings ($2.50): 500ml bottle of Kilimanjaro Beer at the Waterfront; Palace Museum
7,500 shillings ($3.75): king fish in coconut curry sauce
8,000 shillings ($4): gin and tonic at pub in Zanzibar
10,000 shillings ($5): veg thali at Radha
17,000 shillings ($8.50): veggie pizza at The Waterfront
20,000 shillings ($10): vegetable curry at The Waterfront; taxi from ferry to Nyerere Airport
22,000 shillings ($11): Spice Tour on Zanzibar
30,000 shillings ($15): 45 min taxi from Paje to Stone Town
35,000 shillings ($17.50): single room at Haven, no bathroom, incl breakfast in Zanzibar
40,000 shillings ($20): single bungalow with breakfast at Teddy's Place in Paje
70,000 shillings ($35): fast ferry from Dar to Zanzibar
80,000 shillings ($40):  transfer from airport to Hotel Slipaway
82,000 shillings ($41): VIP ticket for fast ferry from Zanzibar to Dar
200,000 shillings ($100): Tanzanian visa
240,000 shillings ($120): One night at Hotel Slipaway, incl breakfast

Europa, europa

On the axis of adventures, you don't find a more divergent place from Zimbabwe and Zanzibar than Zurich.

But first, a side trip to the Milano Expo. I will be a hajj to the gastrodiplomacy mecca.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Goodbye Zanzibar

I returned from my Paje paradise back to Zanzibar.  In the morning's light rain, a rainbow stretch far across the sky and blessed my journey.

I caught a taxi back as I needed to return for a meeting related to a bit of quixotic cultural diplomacy and connecting Taarab music with hip hop.

I settled back in to The Haven, and made my way along the island to a wonderful cafe called Boboo under a giant leafy green tree.

I sat in the afternoon winds, sipping lime juice with mint, soaking in the scene:

Pastel yellow and blue veil patterns fluttered on a woman in the distance in the ocean winds with the yellow black-polka-dotted dress flying like a dhow sail.  

Her friend's green and white zubaz hijab and dress sailed at equal knots.  

A woman in a pastel blue and soft white cotton dress looks on as her orange scarf flies like a flag pendant in the wind.

Old Zanzibari moorish building with small rounded crowns dot the seascape in fading glory.  The small waves lapped at the stone water's edge.  A lush green peninsula juts out just beyond.

I sip my sweet lime juice and get lost in the scene's beauty--eternally sad that my pen nor my lens can capture the infinite beauty before me.

The Moor's melancholy sigh, as I take the brackish ocean water into my nose and lunge, and listen to the winds in the surf.

I dined on wonderful king fish steak cooked in coconut curry sauce.  I picked at the meaty fish with warm chapati and dyed my hands green with curry.

It's safe to say that I have "gone native"; I am just not so sure of where I am native to.

I couldn't leave the beautiful scene so I ordered a cappuccino.  The winds caught the foam and sent the whip flying at me, to the waiter's wide-eyed terror.

"Hakuna matata," I said to the waiter.  Yes, hakuna matata really means "no worries" (for the rest of your days...)

I spent the rest of the day just meandering.

The same this morn, as I kill time before heading on.

After a wonderful vacation that offered exactly what I was looking for (space; time; peace), I depart the enigmatic spice island of Zanzibar.  Such a fascinating contrast of Arabian, Indian and African.

I head back by fast ferry to Dar es-Salaam.  VIP, but not of my choosing.  There were simply no other seats left.

From Dar to Zurich to Milano for the Expo.

Milano--the mecca of gastrodiplomacy, and I am a hajj.

Journey on!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life

As I wend to the shores I know not,
As I list to the dirge, the voices of men and women wreck’d,
As I inhale the impalpable breezes that set in upon me,
As the ocean so mysterious rolls toward me closer and
I too but signify at the utmost a little wash’d-up drift,
A few sands and dead leaves to gather,
Gather, and merge myself as part of the sands and drift.

O baffled, balk’d, bent to the very earth,
Oppress’d with myself that I have dared to open my
Aware now that amid all that blab whose echoes recoil
  upon me I have not once had the least idea who or
  what I am,
But that before all my arrogant poems the real Me stands 
  yet untouch’d, untold, altogether unreach’d,
Withdrawn far, mocking me with mock-congratulatory
  signs and bows,
With peals of distant ironical laughter at every word I have
Pointing in silence to these songs, and then to the sand

I perceive I have not really understood any thing, not a 
  single object, and that no man ever can,
Nature here in sight of the sea taking advantage of me to 
  dart upon me and sting me,
Because I have dared to open my mouth to sing at all.
-Walt Whitman, "As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life"

Thursday, May 21, 2015


White sand beach, absolutely empty as far as the eye can see.
Whispering winds that rustle the green palms ashutter.
Roaring seas, far in the distance thanks to the morning tides.
Turquoise waters shimmering in the morning sun.
Warm crystal pools that I sit in, cross-legged like a sea Buddha.
Endless periwinkle horizon met by the azure seas and the white surf.
Fat globulous white cotton clouds that drift northwest slowly.
The sublime shade from the morning sun by fluffy, fat clouds.
The sun's light burning bright the edges of the clouds in a lucent countenance.
Drawing sand windmills in the white clay surf, watching the waters fill back in the outlines.

On the beach at night alone, with Whitman.
The empty, dark beach, soothing and silent in the purple night's majesty.
The vast milk white galaxies and star punctuations across the open skies.
Walking slowly down the cool soft beach as the sea waves lap quietly on the surf.
Following the Southern Cross' points southerly down the endless night.

Time to play in my own head; time for me to focus on me; to focus on the senses and self.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

On the Beach at Night

On the beach at night,
Stands a child with her father,
Watching the east, the autumn sky.

Up through the darkness,
While ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses
Lower sullen and fast athwart and down the sky,
Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east,
Ascends a large and calm the lord-star Jupiter,
And nigh athand, only a very little above,
Swim the delicate sisters the Pleiades
From the beach the child holding the hand of her father,
Those burial-clouds that lower victorious soon to 
   devour all,
Watching, silently weeps.
-Walt Whitman

Paje Paradise

"Happiness is peeing in a warm ocean."
-Lo Bao Loa

"The windmill is the way."

The powder white sand beach was subject to the noonday tides, and the surf lay a few kilometers back.  

I walked on the wet white sand that felt like warm plaster clay beneath my feet.

Ribbed rivers in banks of white clay and veined crystal pools of the upcaught surf shimmered in the midday winds.

I walked into the warm crystal pools.  The azure water was the temperature of lukewarm peppermint tea, the kind that you sip just a little longer before you put up a new pot for the boil.

I walked slowly through the warm crystal pools, the clear waters not coming above my knees.

Zanzibar paradise. Paje Nirvana.

Life's for the living.

I decided to make better provisions, and had a scare where my i-pod fell in the drink (miraculously it seems to still work), so I headed back to my thatched bungalow and got on my swim trunks.

Everyone here thinks I am Egyptian or from Palestine. While I look like a Levantine, I burn like an Ashkenazi Jew. I cooked myself into a kosher lobster yesterday while snorkeling off prison island.

But I had a grand time doing it, swimming amid the circus of colorful fish in the coral. Schools of blue fish swimming by striped clown fish amid the cylinders of coral. I had my own private boat with Sabri, who let me drive the ship named “Jambo.”

But I digress.

Anyway in white shorts and shirt I looked like a baptist into the Sea of Galilee as I slowly waded into the warm blue azure. I walked slowly, slowly through the waters that very slowly climbed my knees to my waist to my chest until I was kilometers out in the warm seas. I took my time coming back, floating on the gentle waves and playing with smooth shells.

I found an old coke bottle in the sea—Neptune must be crazy...and let the winds whistle through its glass cell.

When I hear the wind whistle in glass bottles, I always think back to my 9th grade music class, and the teacher John Howard who had us listen to Herbie Hancock playing bottles as we did the same. I can see myself on the beaches of Agadir in Morocco the first time I heard the surf's winds play through my bottle.

"I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."
-Isaac Newton

And of course I had an adventure getting here.  I checked out of the Haven Guesthouse, leaving behind my daypack and just taking my backpack and camera bag.  I asked the owner of the guesthouse how far to Paje.  30-45 minutes, not too far.

I made my way to the Dalla-Dalla stand--dalla-dallas are outrigged pickup trucks that hold 12-15 people in the payload in metal or wood frames.  I found the one for Jubaini, which would leave me near the Paje Beach at the intersection.  I climbed into the back truckbed and expected a wait. 

A German couple came over, and got indignant that the dalla-dallas were trying to rip them off.  If we were in Germany, you wouldn't be charged more.  Yes, but you are a long way from Germany.  I just kept my mouth shut as I ascertained what the actual price should be.  2,000 Tanzanian shilling, a buck.

We meandered out of town, slowly stopping to pick up more passengers.  We crawled to a long stop as we loaded goods and wood on the top of the dalla-dalla frame. We sat around for an hour as the dalla-dalla filled up with goods and people.   I had just enough room to consider myself fortunate after bouts as a sardine in the Philippines, India and El Salvador (Chicken buses!).

We opened up onto the country roads, and I stuck my head out the window as I listened to sing-song Swahili chatted about.

We drove through the back roads of the isla, until we got to the Paje junction.  2.5 hours later, as I actually expected not the 40 minutes it could have been.  I wandered along the side of the road until I found Teddy's Place (The Original) and got a thatched bungalow for the vacay.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Palace of Wonders

I walked along the dilapidated marble to Beit al-Ajaib, the Palace of Wonders.  A bare-footed scruffy homeless man walked in behind me to the museum entrance.  I stood there at the front desk, but no one was there.  And it didn't look like anyone had really been there in a while.

I looked around and at the Swahili and English signs that designated it a UNESCO world heritage site in 2001.

Since no one seemed to be coming, I pushed the huge spiked door that was slightly ajar.

There was a huge Zanzibar dhow in the center of the dark museum.  The lights were off but light spilled through from the giant sky light above.

I had just the slightest feel of being somewhere I shouldn't, but the spidey sense was not tingling strongly.

I was reading the signs on the migration of people when the scraggly homeless guy walked in barefoot, smoking his cigarette.

I walked over and admonished him for smoking in a museum, even a closed one.

I walked back over to the exhibits, then back out to see if anything had changed.  Still no there.  A walked back in to the museum.  From the back, a fellow walked out.  He looked official but not really.

He said I had to pay to enter, so I walked back out and over to the desk.

"Pay 5,000 shilling ($2.50)," he said.

The laminated sign said 6,000 shillings.

"Will you give me a ticket?" I asked.

No tickets.  No more tickets.

He thumbed through some worn sign-in date books as I gave an incredulous eye.  He produced a dated date book--the last entry was in April.

"No ticket, and it's 5,000 shilling?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"With no ticket, I think I will just walk in.:  And I did.

Back into the empty, dark Palace of Wonders.

I lingered for a bit in the Palace-turned-closed museum before making my way back out into the high noon sun.

The Sultan's Palace

Staring at the Emperor Franz-Joseph, the sovereign of Austria-Hungary.  An unexpected bit of side burn facial hair I did not expect to see at the Sultan's Palace in Zanzibar.  His Imperial Majesty of the dual monarchy, and my great-grandfather's emperor before he booked it to the new world, had presented his portrait (as well as the utterly fascinating Empress Elisabeth) on the occasion of the signing of a commercial treaty between Austria-Hungary and Zanzibar in 1888.

The first commercial "Most Favoured Nation" Treaty was with the United States of America.  Yes, between the Sultan and Uncle Sam in 1833.

This let foreign traders access the ports and harbors of Zanzibar.

It also let the U.S. establish a consulate on Zanzibar--the first to do so in 1837.

Foreign traders had to pay a maximum of 5 percent import duty, as well as the duties imposed by the Sultan.

Cloves and spices, ivory and slaves.

In return, Zanzibar received unbleached "Marekani" cloth, guns, beads and metal wires.

Cloth, guns and wires for spice, ivory and slaves.

Zanzibari daydreams

Under the dangling banyan tree, 
dark-skinned Zanzibari gentlemen
in colorful flair topi hats
greet each other:

Past splendid spiked doors 
rimmed with bronze horns
and ornate carvings
ebony Zanbibari women
in floral pastel veils
greet each other:
"assalam aleikum"

Lost in Zanzibrari daydreams,
I sit outside the
fading white-washed
Palace of Zanzibar--
the arched structure 
now a museum to the 
Sultans of Zanzibar,
whose reign has 
faded like the 
white chipping paint 
on the Arabesque facade.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Zanzibari Chai

Sipping warm, cloved milk chai
on the roadside, Kurdish-style--
spilling the hot spiced tea
into the porcelain saucer, 
then sipping the cooled chai
from the small dish; 
much better way
to get the full
flavors of the chai.

Travellers Cafe. Vacay. Zanzibar.

Saturday, May 16, 2015


Scented in spices and sweet Swahili sounds,
Zanzibar is as evocative as its mythic name suggests.

Indian, Arabian and African.
I feel like I know this dream,
from Maghreb to Moghul,
yet it comes in just a little different a hue.

Like the yellow scarf hijab
draped over a black abaya
protecting the modesty of ebony skin.

The hand-crafted doors hold
a different dream behind
the spiked facade,

Yet gritty enough to be real
and remind you that Zanzibar
exists in this world.

Our round orb

I was just staring at a human skull that was 1.75 million years old, and feeling insignificant. This makes me feel equally so.

Humans' staggering effects on Earth.

I'm not gonna cook it but order it from....

Sailing to Zanzibar.  Time for a lil vacay on the Spice Islands.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What The World Costs- South Africa

2 rand: peri peri packet
7 rand: combi ride in Cape Town
12 rand: combi ride in Pretoria
13 rand ($1.08): Gautrain card
14 rand ($1.16): single espresso
15 rand ($1.24): box of peppermint tea
16 rand ($1.32): caramel-dipped ice cream cone
18 rand ($1.48): double espresso
20 rand ($1.64): 10 minute cab ride
25 rand ($2.07): beet, apple and carrot juice
28 rand ($2.32): double brandy and coke
30 rand ($2.48): beet, carrot, apple and orange juice at Ta-Dat in Muizenberg
32 rand ($2.64): boerwoers and chips
35 rand ($2.90): hake fish medallions and chips
40 rand ($3.31): Falafel at Yofi Falafel in Muizenberg
42 rand ($3.48): 1/2 steak curry gatsby and chips
45 rand ($3.62): room service grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches
46 rand ($3.70): Bottle of Cape Red at the grocery store
49 rand ($4.06): 3 kudu babootie samoosas at Kirstenbosch; snoek and chips at Lucky's
50 rand ($4.14): entrance to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
57 rand ($4.22): 1/2 carafe of Chardonnay at Kirstenbosch
135 rand ($11.18): Gautrain ride from OR Tambo airport to Pretoria
150 rand ($12.43): 1 GB of Data for wifi
200 rand ($16.57): 25 minute cab ride from Seapoint to Kirstenbosch
232 rand ($19.22): 1 night stay in Muizenburg flatlet from AirBnB
250 rand ($20.71): price for fetching from the airport for Muizenberg stay
300 rand ($24.85): cab ride from airport to Seapoint
500 rand ($41.42): transfer from downtown Joburg to airport
1,470 rand ($121.79): one night at Faircity Apt hotels & transfer to airport
3,300 rand ($273.40): 1 week's stay at one-bedroom apartment in Sea Point


"One man, scorned and covered with scars, still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars; and the world was better for this."
- Don Quixote

Country roads

And somewhere in the heart of darkness, the gambler he broke even....

The surreality of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers crooning as the car slowly drives through the monsoon with the only cowboy driver in Dar es-Salaam.

As I have long said, there needs to be more country music as American cultural diplomacy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Victoria Falls Pics


Karibu (welcome) to Dar es-Salaam! In Tan-Zan-ia, not Tanzania.

What The World Costs- Uganda

500 Ugandan shilling ($.16): 2 bananas
800 shilling ($.27): 500ml water at convenience store
1000 shilling ($.33): 15 minutes internet
1,500 shilling ($.50): 500 ml water at hostel; matate (shared van taxi) ride
2,000 shilling ($.67): 300 ml bottle of Coke
3,000 shilling ($1): 15 minute boda boda (moto taxi) ride from central Kampala to Lunguja; shot of Crazy Cock Whisky; SIM card
4,000 shilling ($1.33): cold Nile Beer at Blue River bar; beef pilau
4,500 shilling ($1.50): 2 boiled eggs and 2 pieces of toast at the hostel
5,000 shilling ($1.67): Fish tail stew w/ rice, yams & matoke at market restaurant; entrance to Uganda Museum; peanut paste (butter) and honey sandwich at hostel
6,000 shilling ($2): 25 minute boda boda ride from Kabagala to Lunguja
7,000 shilling ($2.33): double espresso
8,000 shilling ($2.67): Pot of milky, gingery African Tea at Cafe Juras; 40 minute boda ride
10,000 shilling ($3.33): glass of red wine at the hostel
12,000 shilling ($4): Daily Lunch Special (Chicken Curry w/ rice and a banana)
14,000 shilling ($4.67): Chicken Mochocho and chops
15,000 shilling ($5): Curry goat and matoke at Highlands restaurant; Entebbe airport transfer
19,000 shilling ($6.33): Ginger Love (pineapple, ginger, orange and rum) at Lake Victoria
20,000 shilling ($6.67): single room w/ shared bathroom at Entebbe Backpackers hostel
30,000 shilling ($10): single room w/shared bathroom at Kampala Backpackers Hostel; ticket for Ndere Cultural Center show
70,000 shilling ($23.33): 1 hour taxi ride from Kampala to Entebbe
360,000 shilling ($120) : 1 night at Hotel Africana, breakfast included

The Vindication of Edward Snowden

A Federal Appeals Court vindicates Snowden's whistle-blowing.

Dar es-Salaam

The morning monsoon swirls in off the Indian Ocean
the gale drips from Arabesque porticos
and down the white lattice-work walls
the long jetty stretches into the false bay
as the fishermen pay the storm no mind.
All is quiet in the "Abode of Peace,"
save for the drip-drip-drips.
Dar es-Salaam, indeed.

Monday, May 11, 2015

What The World Costs- Venezuela (2014)

3 Bolivares (official $.25/blackmarket $.025): 1 metro ticket
5 Bolivares ($.42/$.042): A full tank of gas
9 Bolivares ($.75/$.075): small espresso at local cafe
25 Bolivares ($2.08/ $.21): cafe con leche
30 Bolivares ($2.59/ $.26): bottle of sparkling water; double espresso
40 Bolivares ($3.33/$.33): 500ml bottle of agua de coco; cafe marron oscuro to go
54 Bolivares ($4.50/$.45): Batido de melon (melon shake)
70 Bolivares ($5.83/$.58): hamburger with grilled egg on the sife of the road
78 Bolivares ($6.50/ $.65): Arepa Reina Pepeida
84 Bolivares ($7/$.70): Turkey ham and cheese sandwich
95 Bolivares ($7.92/ $.79): 100 Grand candy bar
118 Bolivares ($9.83/ $.98): Cachapa de Carne Mechada
125 Bolivares ($10.42/ $1.04): glass of Chilean red wine
150 Bolivares ($12.50/ $1.25): 15 min taxi ride in Caracas; shot of flaming sambuca
180 Bolivares ($15/ $1.50): full breakfast criollo
200 Bolivares ($16.67/ $1.66): plate of carne salomo and rice
240 Bolivares ($20/ $2.00): Ceviche at a beach restaurant
265 Bolivares ($22.08/ $2.20): charge for 40 kilos (88 pounds) extra luggage; small bottle of diplomatico rum
450 Bolivares ($37.50/ $3.75): 15 min taxi from airport to hotel
500 Bolivares ($41.67/ $4.16): glass of chivas whiskey on the rocks
580 ($48.33/ $4.83): Cazuela de Corvina [shark stew]
1400 Bolivares ($116.67/ $11.66): per person meal at Monte Grill for way too much grilled meat, appetizers wine, whiskey and dessert
2,000 Bolivares ($166.67/ $16.66): per person meal at Leal Resturante- Venezuelan fusion restaurant for apps, dinner, dessert and drinks
3,710 ($309.16/ $30.91): 2 extra suitcases on return trip
4,400 ($366.67/ $36.67): Bottle of Diplomatico Reserve for a good friend

What my time costs

Too much these days.  Wow, I have been busy.  I have a lot of What The World Costs blogs in draft.  I am going to start posting those, and getting back in the habit.

Aloha Meets Ubuntu Pics up

This post is for you, Mom-- to simply point out that I do have pics up from my programs.  Also, you can see them at the Levantine PD FB page.

From Aloha Meets Ubuntu, Take One!

From Aloha Meets Ubunu at Zim Academy of Music

From Sharing Aloha w/ ZimKids

From Stanley Hall Township Concert

From HIFA Street Stage Performance

African Nirvana

I have no internet access until 5/10.  I'm not sure if my head will explode with two days off the grid, or if I will find nirvana.  I will get back to you when I am back online.

-As was my away message that never got activated on account of a lack of internet.-

Finally a free day. A day left just to me. On the African Savannah. Sitting in an A-frame balcony on a thatched lodge.

I moment of stillness lets me think back to past dreams, like Rasta Romblon when I sat out in a hammock over Tofey's A-frame hut on the side of the mountain overlooking the sea.

I have lived dozens of lives, over hundreds of dreams, over thousands of days on the Road.

It is such a blessed rarity these crazy days when I get a day to myself, and I am in a place or state to appreciate it.

Africa gives me a lot of peace.

Amazingly, the city I have spent the most time in this year is Harare. I really love Zim. If things change, and they will, I could see myself living here.

I think I found nirvana. Nirvana is the giant widescreen African savanah as the sun sets, with my feet up on the wooden log rail as I take in the Zimbabwean wide screen over a gin & tonic.

Nirvana is watching the impala bounce past as the herd has its evening drink at the watering hole.

Nirvana is a pack of pachyderms saunter in from the jungle for a sip at the watering trough. From about 800 meters away, I could even hear them slurping over the chirping crickets.

African nirvana.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

On Bribery

Bribery is sometimes just further diplomacy negotiated through cash; diplomacy is sometimes just further bribery negotiated through international currency.
-Amb. Eric Hayes

Dellas in the Grey Lady


Welcomed to Jozi (Johannesburg) with a hot bubble bath and a cup of rooibos tea,  I sipped the red bush tea amid the soapy bubbles, and dropped the tea bag in the big drink.  Not too much that the combo can't fix.


Nobody likes me, everybody hates me,
Guess I'll go eat worms!
Big fat juicy ones,
 Eensie weensy squeensy ones,
See how they wiggle and squirm!

Yes, I ate some mopani worms. They were not soooo bad. Kinda meaty, a lil like eating snake.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015


After flying like a fox and zip lining across a ravine, I played Kid Icarus across the Batoka Gorge off Vic Falls.

RaReva Ashey

Some days it feels like a dream.

Moana and I went out for a morning hike while Keola and Jeff went canoeing down the Zambezi. On the trail, we met a fellow named Moses who was training to be a guide.

Moses was a wise fellow, and explained all the different names of the trees and explained what they were good for. Some were great for kindling fires, others were good as “tree viagra.”

He was off to feed the bushbok; we decided to follow him.

Moses led us to a watering hole, where the guinea fowl would gather. Soon a flock of the polka-dotted, blue-faced fowl appeared. There were little chicks scurrying about over each other as they dined on their breakfast. They scurried around the watering hole. I tossed a few handfuls of feed, and they came scurrying about.

We spoke with Moses about his life and he told us of life in Zimbabwe. Of the traditional ways, and of the modern ways.

He told us about his wife, and his kids. He had three children, of which two were boys. Melvin and Kelvin. Kelvin's Shona name was “RaReva Ashey.” In Shona, that meant “what God wills.”

RaReva Ashey, RaReva Ashey, I kept repeating.

Moses told us of a family of warthogs, one of whom had been attacked. He had put salt water on its wounds, and they stopped festering. He nursed the pig back to health. The pig was friendly with him now, and would eat right out of his hand.

A group of tusked-warthogs came, and we fed them pellets we tossed. They forage on bended front legs, they tuck their front hoofs under to get lower. They are called the “African lawnmowers” for they way they kneel over and eat the grass. They were so close that we could see the large warts that give the hogs their names.

Eventually, the friendly warthhog came. He was smiling at Moses, you could see it on his piggy face. He went directly to Moses, and ate out of his hand.

I tried as well, and the little piggy ate out of my hand as well. I wasn't very good at feeding the warthog, he nipped at my finger a little and I dropped the pellets. But I was able to feed him correctly the second time, and he sucked up the pellets from my hand with a snort.

We bade Moses fare thee well, as we passed the pack of warthogs.

RaReva Ashey, I kept repeating.   

Moanalani Falls

Hello blog, my old friend. I have come to write with you again. I have missed putting digital words to blog paper for quite some time. The unfortunate thing is that I have been up to so much. I scarcely know where to start. And I hear myself writing in a Scottish accent. Just a wee bit.

Do I start with HIFA? Ot Bulawayo and its deportations? The Global NL program or the gastrodiplomacy conference after? So much that I scarcely know where to begin.

The most wonderful place I can end is the chant at Moanalani Falls. Victoria Beamer giving a benediction in Hawaiian to the blessing of rain at Victoria Falls. 

We sit at your alter
here is the water
the water of life. 

A soaked benediction with a double rainbow blessing. A wet prayer, if there ever was one.

I could start by recounting the immaculate day, because even that has been a while. Maybe my way of writing is just getting back to recounting the day. 

I woke up late. I woke up early at 4:15am to the sounds of the wilderness but meditated back to bed. I woke up late for me, in time to catch the day's brunch over the watering hole. Some chocolate muesli and some coffee. And some POG juice-- passion fruit, orange and guava as the Hawaiians refer.

I was hanging low, Melancholy and low. Until the water mist grounded me in the present and I opened up to the day.

Victoria Falls misted a rain cloud and soaked us in a misted benediction.  

I saw the Aloha of a double rainbow in the falls. The vivid colors stretched across the canyon in the clouds of mist arising from the falls.

I dried off to a crocodile wrap in the sun, alongside a Zim Shandy (lemonade, ginger ale and bitters) as I dried off.

Keola, Moana and Jeff went riding elephants, but I had my own pachyderm pair appear in the watering hole in front of me. “Wow,” I said and I cursed myself for not having my camera before I dived back into work.

I missed the first shuttle into town before I caught the ride with Victor the driver. He dropped me off at the market, which proved a longer endeavor than planned. I got the trapping of a barbecue-- fighting the onion scales and overstuffed charcoal bags before I caught the private shuttle back to the lodge as the green moon rose over the empty horizon.

We braiied it up over charcoals and spiced whole chickens. Rounded boerwoers. Top sirloin steaks.

A nice feast before I wandered over to chat by the watering hole with the good Dr. Louisia of Her Majesty's Nyasaland for a drink,

Sounds so little (it isn't) and so promising at the same time. Good night.