Travelblog East Africa Part 2 - Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania

I would round out the rest of my summer vacation with going to the three of the other four countries around Lake Victoria. Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania. Thus completing my tour of Wakanda. Each one of these countries I only spent about two days in, but each one was distinct for a variety of reasons. As such, each one won’t get their own post but they will get their own spotlight.

Rwanda

I had a wonderful tour here even though my fever sickness starts here, I had very kind hosts (with no internet) and had a wonderful tour that explored how modernized Kigali is becoming as it has some of the best urban development I’ve ever seen. People are moved from their old homes for a little then come back with brand new modern homes. Also on the tour I had an assortment of food and fruit, a fresh milk bar - which tasted far better than American milk, Muslim schools and the highlight the Genocide Museum. The museum was huge on getting rid of what most people know Rwanda for as it moved based the Tutsi/Hutu issues and into everyone being called Rwandans. This is rare in that they were the only East Africans who weren’t prideful about their tribe over their nation.

On another note, a lot of people could tell I was mixed and they found it fascinating. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten so many stares in my life. My tour guide told me that mixed people were seen as gorgeous so don’t be surprised if women flirt. Granted we all know me and my tour guide, who’s skin was midnight, was far more beautiful to me than my skin tone. Lastly, my tour guide driver had a personality and spoke to me in english and French to show me one of the presidential homes that had an airplane crash into it. Kigali, Rwanda was beautiful and one of my favorites of East Africa

Uganda

I would argue that my best hosts were in Uganda. While my sickness got to the point where I decided to cut my time in Tanzania short - unfortunately no Zanzibar, someday - I had great hosts who I was able to watch the Croatia versus Russia game with for the World Cup, drink Ugandan beer and enjoy a homecooked meal. My tour guide in Kampala, land of seven hills, drove me on a motorbike tour with amazing skills. I don’t think I can emphasize enough how bad the traffic in Kampala is and the skills of motorbike drivers is unmatched. He was a kind guy and I got to learn a lot on the tour. Instead of going out anywhere I simply stayed in and hung with my Serbian and Uganda hosts who talked to me about have mixed children which was a long and enlightening conversation about how they’ll navigate biracial life in Uganda.

One odd vision I saw was China’s influence on contracting their own people for their highways while cutting out the Ugandan contractors and performing neo-colonization while putting the country in debt again.

Tanzania

I truly wish I had more time in this country. It was beautiful and similar to Kenya in that it had Black people of all levels handling everything. One aspect that was interesting was how bad the traffic in and out of the airport was. Outside of that main road the traffic wasn’t like Uganda. However, there were a lot of cool experiences to be had in Dar es Salaam and I was so close to Zanzibar, but being sick had me go home soon, so maybe some other day in my future. The first evening I tried to figure out the spotty internet but wonderful AC and had myself some fish and rice where they once again thought I was Tanzanian and knew Swahili. This was hilarious because the lady serving me didn’t know english - I live for these moments! Anyways, afterwards I headed to a local bar and watched two African football teams duke it out. It was great to just be around an atmosphere of happy African men and women.

The main highlight though was roaming around with my main man Meck on a tour that started at Dar es Salaam harbor and Barack Obama Rd(2nd East African country that’s honoring him). We went to the fish market, several government homes, huge supermarkets, a variety of churches, mosques, spice markets, and some different foods (jackfruit, sugarcane water, fries in an omelette). Meck was a great tour guide and Tanzania was gorgeous but soon my East Africa journey was ending.

I hope I can return someday, especially for Zanzibar, but West Africa is next on the horizon.

Travelblog - East Africa Part 1 Kenya

Asante for reading as this is the first part of my journey into East Africa and the wonders that I discovered there.

I have to say that there were so many moments that I had while visiting in Kenya that I felt like I was in real life Wakanda. From the fact that everybody walking around in any social class was Black to the lack of racial differentiation because we all knew we were African. I had a great time exploring the wild Nairobi nightlife (yes I enjoyed myself but East African women are not as tall as West African women so there’s that) and a variety of excursions. Yes I did the typical safari in the Serengheti as Nairobi National Park is a reserve right outside of the main city and I got to see almost four of the big five (no leopards but came close to seeing a rhino and saw an elephant, buffalo, and lion among other animals). I also got to see some traditional villages and dances at a place called Bomas. I also enjoyed plenty of Tusker beer and grilled meat straight from the bone which was all reasonably priced unlike the souvenirs and clothes.

Interacting with people in Nairobi was a great experience because on my first day I had a set of tour guides also known as the Nairobeez who rap in english, Swahili and sheng, the slang of Kenya. It was a really great feeling to roll with a set of Black dudes and just kick it and explore. It’s an experience I rarely have in the US because so many of our men are awful and I don’t vibe with them. I also flirted with several different women as I learned Swahili from them and was happy that any women I met there would be African of a whole variety of shades. Sadly they were all short including my awesome airbnb host - how to stay in Africa - who hooked it up with drivers too. As this was my fourth time in Africa, I definitely learned that you need to have drivers to help you since there isn’t much public transportation that is legitimate there outside of the wild busing system in many countries.


When I went to Mombasa, it was similar but I got to see the beach and the Arab trading town on the coast of the Indian Ocean. This worked out since I couldn’t make it to Zanzibar due to getting sick but such is life. I got a driver, Bilal, there too who hooked it up with a wood carving spot - amazing to see authentic wood carving and eat some cassava crisps while bumping classic hip-hop.

On some interesting cultural notes, all of the African men loved hip-hop they were curious about producing it, what to listen to and learning about the history of it. At the same time The World Cup was happening so it was interesting to see how people cheered against England the original colonizers of their lands and cheered for France due to all the Africans on the team.

It was a deep feeling of gratitude that I had in Kenya due to how amazing it was. I hate that I got sick during my time there, but basically seeing Wakanda live without white people anywhere was absolutely fantastic and something I sorely missed when coming back to the US.

Travelblog - Central European Excursion = Budapest, Wien (Vienna) and Warsaw

During this past Spring Break in April,

I went on a trip around Central Europe to the countries of Hungary, Austria and Poland (cities Budapest, Vienna and Warsaw respectively). I initially thought about giving them each separate entries like I usually do. However, these cities blended together at points and I was in depression during this time so what I did in the cities didn't differ or see cultural aspects out of the norm either. Still I will breakdown my experience in each:


Hungary-Budapest

My time in Budapest was fun in its own weird way with significantly cheaper currency (no euros), Magyar language that I barely even understood and it was ok because everyone knew I wasn't Hungarian. It was a pretty easy city to traverse with buses, trains, and trolleys everywhere and an awesome airbnb host. The food was surprisingly wonderful from paprikas (chicken with paprika), goulash (soup), hurka (sausage), delicious Kürtőskalács (funnel cake), and the wine. I highly recommend all of it and getting lost in the old Jewish Quarter for the quirky ruin bars. These bars are made from the ruins of older buildings from the destruction of World War 2 in the past and yes that did hit hard. 

The other fun aspect of Hungary was the bathhouses based on Roman baths and everybody was out there - all ages but definitely not all ethnicities at the Széchenyi Thermal Bath.  I also had a nice and enjoyable free walking tour which was my main process in Central Europe. I definitely recommend this cheap and fairly entertaining beautiful city (open alcohol carry!) to visit as a change of pace from Western Europe.


Austria - Vienna (Wien)

I only went to Vienna for a day, but I tried to indulge in as much as I could for the six or seven hours I was there. The absolute best part was the central loop and all the Strasses (streets) and Platzs (squares) that a variety of perspectives. There were swanky and fashionable clothing pieces, phenomenal churches, an impressive library, and the wonderful Sacher Torte cake and cafe. This cafe is exceptionally gaudy and it works with the classiness of Vienna. I had a free walking tour to explore which was a blast to use and even had some fun figuring out Vienna's different red light system (they're outside of doors as you walk). In the end, the main highlight was meeting an Ethiopian lady who worked at a restaurant I was in who thought I too was Ethiopian. A surprise and welcoming face in a sea of whiteness - which is towed oddly in Austria since it is part Western Europe with euros v. Central European historical struggles.

Still, the city and country is a blast and an alternative to Germany. I really want to explore more of it someday as I felt there was still much more indulge in this city filled with Mozart, coin-operated bathrooms, and cafe on cafe on cafe. 


Poland-Warsaw

While I was only here for a stopover, I figured it would be imperative to explore the city center of Warsaw with a free tour. The tour had many of the usual European highlights of churches, some cafe where famous people visited and World War 2 statues and remnants. At the same time, Warsaw and Poland for that matter offered a little more than the usual due to the fortitude of the Polish and the more humble approach of non-colonizing white people. I didn't face racism there I was pretty much ignored and without much fanfare since that country had a hell of a history and my tour expressed how much Hitler razed to the ground when they tried to resist. Poland is also not known for having slaves or colonizing people so the people had an air of working class about them especially when I went to the milk bar*.

*Polish milk bars are a must. Since the head lady doesn't speak english you tell her what Polish delights you want (I highly recommend the perogi and borscht!), she writes down the number and you pay, then someone calls your food and you get it. It's cheap and simple and was a stable means of quick and common eats during the communist days. 

Beyond that, this is the home of the composer Chopin and his music and vodka can make good uses for all that extra zloty you'll have. 

Travelblog - Montreal in Review

This is probably the longest time in between traveling to a country and writing about the experience. However, my moods have shifted considerably since then which is another conversation. Anyways I had a simple time with Montreal with one more time with my muse, was very different than most of my travels since it was cold travel (European/Colonizer places always seem to be that) and it was Canada so no stamp even though I tried to get all the places I’d ever been in one passport.

 

The trip was much more subdued even though the apartment was quite nice with a good view from a high rise overlooking the cold exhausts of Montreal. Old Montreal was a nice little stomp around for the odd history of being colonized and fought over (French-Indian War) and debates around English versus French. Along with that there’s an odd mixture of vacant business buildings mixed with all types of food since it is a foodie town with rye whiskey, delicious smoked meats and fish, and the glory that is maple syrup. There’s also this strange revelation of homeless white guys everywhere; nice change of pace but it’s even colder up there.

 

Some other odds and ends were a cool speakeasy, high diversity (it’s like Chicago but French-Canadian), prostitution that is but isn’t legal, random guy yelling at us in French then English so I was confused as to what he was going for, seeing Black Panther in a foreign country (less racism in Canada so colonization is a bit different for them without all the slavery),  1976 Olympics, and a gay district. 

 

Overall, it’s a food and shopping town with a good trip Quebec City that I wish I partook in for some castle history as the Quebecois like their independence outside of Canada in a sense. A nice short getaway from the usual pressures of NYC.

Afrofuturistic Boy

Yes, I like many people saw Black Panther and I absolutely loved it. What I didn’t know was how much Black Panther would change me. It stirred up something of not only Black excellence but also Black Geek/Nerdom.

 

 Growing up in the suburbs, I gravitated to video games or made up games that were similar to acting out a dungeons and dragon story in which we went on adventures. Video games suited me because I could go on these interactive adventures myself and in essence I could be a hero with powers different from sports games or puzzle games. Thus, it makes sense why I was invested in JRPGs and adventure games. I enjoyed escaping the confines of the world where I didn’t have to make sense of certain things. Life wasn’t too hard but I’ve had anxiety and bouts of depression for awhile now so escapism falls in and out of my life. I realized that some subtle moments may have also been to deal with being biracial, but either way I embraced being a nerd and have only in the past year or so felt like I could be around Black people again.

 

Being Black in America or even the world is a huge challenge in of itself. When you add other stigmas it becomes difficult. Homosexuality, Transgender, Bisexuality are all difficult, but some are other moments like enjoying rock or punk music or video games or sci-fi literature. And it’s strange because we created so much of it and the culture but around the 80s/90s we became to shun to move steeply into a gangsta rap mindset which was definitely reactive the terrible Reagan era 80s. However, we weren’t all a stereotype and even those in it had layers. As such, I related more to white suburban kids growing up than Black kids because we often did meet as my parents were focused on success and my dad didn’t help diversify certain things even though he helped me be a Black man. He was a geek too but we didn’t always talk about it. We both geeked on Babylon 5, Star Trek, and some other moments but I left the cowboys fandom to him. Still I loved it but there were so many people in those worlds I couldn’t relate to unless I got lucky. Babylon 5’s doctor, Jordi LaForge, beating the World Cup with team Nigeria in an old Fifa game or reading the Afrofuturistic, Zimbabwe,  thriller novel The Ear, The Eye and the Arm.

 

All of those moments I felt whole, like myself, but I also felt like I made no sense to my peers. To anyone white, that couldn’t relate to the Blackness. To the few Black people I knew, they couldn’t relate to my geekiness. Other ethnic groups varied, some Chinese friends I had were cool and so were some of my Mexican soccer teammates, but that was maybe one or two the entire time. It didn’t get better in high school since I tried to be the stereotype and wind up with nothing or in college when Black people thought I was out of my mind for not being a stereotype. After college, I only found some peace with kinky Black folks as my time in TFA had almost no Black people. People at my work though were out of my age range so we didn’t relate that well about anything but I learned about old Southern Black ways.

Fast-forward to NYC and I have it more in moments here and there, but not entirely.

 

 

However, Black Panther revitalized that. I’m having so much trouble accepting I have to live in a world with colonizers. I’m trying to make sense of it without being so prejudiced to white people, but it is so hard because I felt so comfortable just being a Black/Pan-African geek/nerd. I’ve been researching African history for teaching but also for my own knowledge in learning how many ancient kingdoms we have that we never learned for some reason. I’ve also been learning how few films and tv there are that embrace Black excellence or nerdom. There are some good documentaries on us, but there’s only so much Black trauma I can take especially if I don’t see us winning.

 

So at the moment I’m really struggling because I feel wrong a bit for just wanting to live in a world of sci-fi with African pride and no white people. Is that so wrong? I don’t know but there will be a lot for therapy and just my raging mind right now.