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Capricorn in Cuba

 

I was almost to my casa particular, the Cuban home I was staying at while in Trinidad.

I went out. Listen to Cuban music and watch beautiful Cuban men flirt with white foreigners.

I even had a drink, although I nursed it for an hour and did not finish it.

But the point remained, I went out for my 30th birthday.

As I approached the street my casa particular was on. I saw Andres. Andres hair was in a long ponytail and they wore a short dress showing off their legs. I had been on an unofficial search for queer people in Cuba.

I had not seen many in Havana and when I did I was not in a place where I could approach them. But here alone at 10:30pm on an empty street in Trinidad, I ventured to speak.

Andres walked past me and I turned around and stop them. My Spanish was not helped by the nervousness that is accompanied by stopping a stranger and assuming them queer. I am from the U.S. it is not always safe for people that are perceived as masculine to express femininity in clothing and in acts.

“Hola. Yo estoy in Cuba para tres dias, no mirrar mucho gente de diferente. Pero tu. Tu es muy bonita. Como se illama?”

That was me shooting my shot. It worked. Andres then responded to me in English. They asked me where I was going and told me that it was too early to go back home. There were many parties in Trinidad, they invited me to join. As we walked back to the party era we met up with one of Andres friends. He was a young cutie who later told me that he was 19. As we walked Andres asked me was I gay? Andres seemed determined to find me a Cuban girlfriend. We return to the House of Music, the venue I had just left. Andres introduced me to all the queer folks there. The crowd had grown since I left.

I was struck by how popular Andres was as we walked through the city. Everyone greeted Andres. I did not apprehend mean looks or stares. Andres took me to 3 clubs. Reminding me to stay quiet as he paid (with my money). Cubans paid less than foreigners and I look Cuban. I just do not sound Cuban. Pero mi Buenos Dias es muy perfecto. Hence, I saved money.

At the end of the night Andres and the friend. Walked me back to my casa and we made plans to meet the next day to go to the beach.

I am Black and Queer.

Consequently I seek out other Black, Brown and Queer Folks.

I tend to travel to countries where the majority of the population is Black or Brown.

I have not cared enough to travel to Europe. I can stay in the US and see white folks in power.

Over the past 4 months, I have traveled to Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Bahamas and Cuba. Without a doubt Cuba appears to be the most hospitable place for queer folk.

I ask the 19 year old was it easy being gay in Cuba.

Si, es muy facil.

But easy is relative. His 19 years looked and felt very different from Andres 33 years. Cuba is complicated in ways my Black American self will never understand. The next day at the beach Andres told me more about their life and what it meant to be queer in Cuba. I was reminded that life for queer people of color is rarely a crystal stairs.

My time in Cuba forced me search beneath the surface and remember that things are rarely as they appear to be. In this next decade, I plan to be more intentional about taking time to listen to other’s stories.

~JustTab

 

Also Andres is also a Capricorn, the best sign out there

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2016 in Gender, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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Sleep Deprivation, Misogyny and Thug life.

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Around 3:30 am, Tuesday morning I pulled into a 7-11 somewhere in Maryland.

At this point, Mercedes and I had been driving for a couple of hours. She had to work that day so I told her she should sleep some.

Perhaps I should explain why I was in Maryland at 3am. I spent the previous weekend in Montreal for a Theatre conference. I should have been home Sunday night but due to bad weather, I missed my connecting flight in Toronto. I ended up at the hotel the airline got for me at 1:30 am, after landing in Toronto at 8:30pm. This meant no dinner for Tab. I have a lot of unkind things to say about Toronto’s airport and AirCanada but I can do that later. My new flight left Monday at 8:30am. Which meant I needed to be up before 6am to catch the shuttle to the airport.

Still wearing the same clothes from the previous day. I landed in Columbus at 10am.

Great. Tab can rest! Naw. Mercedes and I previously decided we would take her three nieces back to Philly on Monday. They had been staying with us for two weeks.  So I rented a car and drove to Philly, leaving a lot later than I originally planned. Remember I was supposed to be home Sunday night, in bed by 11pm. But since I am thug and driving long distance runs in my blood, the 8 hour drive (with kids) was not a problem.

Three kids, three different mommas meant I was playing bus driver making multiple stops. The run also included getting some of Mercedes stuff from her old place to bring back to Columbus. I had to pretend like being in a basement at after midnight didn’t scare this never had a basement Florida girl. Plus, I gotta impress my lady and show off my Crossfit strength.

Tab: “Don’t worry boo…what box you need? I got this.

You know I still aint really had meal since brunch the previous day. The thing about the drive to Philly, it is really expensive, $60 in tolls roundtrip. Damn, the Pennsylvania Turnpike. However, your girl was feeling bold and cheap. So I decided to take another route. Technically it was 45 min longer but would save $30. That’s like a lap dance and a half. We got on the road around 1 am but for some reason all the entrance to the highway was blocked. We spent almost an hour trying to get on. Remember, ya’ll I still haven’t really eaten or slept. The plan was to stop get some fruit for me during the drive. The first place was some rest stop type place. It was $5 for thing of grapes. Hell no. I ended getting a banana for free because the lady didn’t know how to charge me for it. So, since I was still hungry I stopped at the 7-eleven, I figured it would be cheaper.

Yeah. That was long intro. Hope you are still with me.

When I pulled up I notice this black man playing music in his car. He looked about 30ish. Nice beard and good build. I walked in and got what I came for. Mercedes is still in the car, half sleep. As I was in line, I noticed him talking to this woman. She was paying for her stuff and she appeared to either be going to work or just getting off.

She was clearly not interested in dude.

W: I’m married.

M: How long has that been a problem?

W: It’s not a problem for you, it aint a problem for me.

The man continues his advances.

Tab is in line behind them. And of course she has to say something.

Tab: “Yo, clearly she isn’t interested. Chill man”.

M: “Who the fuck was talking to you? Mind your fucking business.”

Can we just say that went from 15 to 100 real quick! I am not letting anybody talk to me like that. So me and dude went back and forth until he left. During this time he told me I was lucky the police was across the street and that I was a female. He also mentioned going to my car and getting at my girl. I pretty much told him he wasn’t going to do a god damn thing and he was an ignorant ass motha fucka…among other things. When I left he is staring at me smiling from his car. I pulled off and he attempts to try to follow me and scare me. He got stopped at a light and I sped off to the highway. I guess I will never know if he was really trying to follow me and do me harm or was just trying to scare me.

What bothered me the most about this situation was the (lack of) response of the other two Black men present. When the guy left, the clerk asks me if I knew him. I tell him hell no, I have never seen that man before. The clerk tells me I am “a tough lady.” He tells me that guy has been bothering every women that walked in and he should have left her alone because she said she was married. I told him even if she wasn’t married he should have left her alone.

As I drove away I reflected on how vulnerable women are in this world. This man watched another man verbal harass several women and threaten to assault me. Yet, he did nothing and said nothing. He could have easily asked the man to leave the store or even called the cops (who were camped out in the parking lot across the street). But he didn’t. Him and the other employee sat silently by despite knowing the man was wrong.

I am left wondering where are the men who will interrupt patriarchy and misogyny. Who will say not on my watch, not in front of me. Who will make it their business to speak up. I want my brothers to know that their silence makes them complicit. That their silence will never protect them.

Until then I guess I will have to stay on my thug life swag.

While I can joke about this now. I do want to acknowledge how scared I was. In that moment, I didn’t have the luxury to show fear.

I have never directly experience such aggression from a man. The reality was I had no clue where I was, what this man was capable of and despite the other men presence, I was alone.

I drove away fully awake but oh so tired.

~JustTab

 

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motion

Where should I begin? A lot has happen since my last post. I will venture to say for a variety of reasons this has been one of the most emotional months I have had in a long time. But through it all I am blessed. Summers have always been the time that I grow the most and with growing comes a certain amount of growing pains. There is no progress without struggle.  I defended my dissertation June 28- I passed with minor revisions. I turn in the revisions on Monday.

Dissertation Defense

I am humbled and grateful for the feedback of my dissertation committee. One of committee members told me how impressed she was with the amount of work I was able to accomplish in 9 months while also teaching. I am often my biggest critic and it is hard for me to take time to celebrate my accomplishments in the way that other people do. Its far easier for me to focus on my inadequacies. I have a PhD at 26, but yet I am still unemployed, searching for the next step in my life. At times I feel like I am not even close to where I want to be. Creating the life that I want is way harder than I imagined. As  happy as I am to say that I am not a student, I know I will miss the structure of that life. I excel in collegiate and graduate environments not because I am so smart, but because I understood that world. I knew what the requirements was to finish and I methodologically charted a plan to complete those requirements in the most efficient way. Within the first 2 months of undergrad I planned what classes to take and when in order to finish in 3 years…I finished in 2.5 years. So while my defense was a celebratory event, it triggered anxiety and depression.

Last Saturday my little brother got married to Brittannie Stanley in Florence, Alabama.

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I drove there with 3 of my sister’s kids and Mercedes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The trip was beyond interesting and extremely draining. I maintain that I do not ever want children of my own. If you ever catch me pregnant, either my birth control slipped up or the condom broke. I did not drive the children back, but I am pretty sure they made it home safely. At one point I was dreading attending the nuptials, I am not good around people especially church people.  Weddings tend to bring up all kinds of emotion for people, not always good ones. As a safety precaution I invited 3 people, none of whom had met the bride and one person I hadn’t even met before. But thankfully I didn’t need it. Brittannie’s family was beyond amazing and welcoming. I am in awe of how beautiful her family was to me, my friends and my family. I felt a level of acceptance and love that I rarely experience.

I was a bridesmaid in the wedding, the only bridesmaid that didn’t go to college or grow up in Alabama with Brittannie. I packed a dress to wear to the rehearsal  and rehearsal dinner. Since my plan of buying new sandals and getting a pedicure didn’t happen I ended up wearing a polo button up, some pink gap chinos and Sperrys. Mercedes said I was cute. I showed up to the church- all the other bridesmaids had on dresses looking like southern belles with their pretty permed hair. I immediately felt out of place, even though the boys looked like they had just fell out of bed. I realized then that I wasn’t as comfortable with my gender performance as I thought I was. Let me be clear my discomfort was not caused by anything other than my own insecurity. I wanted a dress on so bad in that moment. But by the next day it was my shaved sides and my differences that made me not only stand out but made me beautiful. Being comfortable with who you are is always a process.

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I told the lady who did my makeup that I did not need waterproof mascara. There was no way I was going to cry. Damnit I am a THUG. I have seen 4 seasons of The Wire ( my summer project). But I will be damned if my eyes did not start watering and my lips started to quiver when Brittannie walked down the aisle to Jeremiah. I don’t think I ever seen my brother so happy. It was like he transformed to a man in front of my eyes.

That was Saturday, Sunday my grandfather made his transition. His health had been declining but he was doing better when we left Florida. He was my last living grandparent. I am grateful for his life and that I got a chance to spend sometime with him in June.

Granddad and dad

He kinda remembered me. As with both of my father’s parents they left me years before they died. The loss of memory is a hell of a thing. The funeral was today but I am in North Carolina for a conference. I feel like I am absent too much sometimes. At some point I am going to have to face what  I am running from. Three weeks has been the longest period I have spent in Florida since the move back…I could barely take it. Just itching for an escape.  Maybe I am running from my parents love. I have never really been able to believe in the concept of unconditional love. There is always conditions…

This is long. There is more I should share. Mercedes came for three weeks. I am not moving to Philadelphia. Maybe Charlotte though…still figuring things out. Remind me to tell you the story about how I officially became a heathen. My heart is a little frozen now, still deciding if I want to thaw it out.

Until the next time…may the peace and light of Blue Ivy’s smile be with you.

-Just Tab

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“I surrender all” 26 on the 26th.

“I surrender all, I surrender all; All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.”

In the last couple of weeks that refrain has been replaying over and over in my head. Surrendering all. The concept of surrender “to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand”- is a lot for a person like me who thrives off power and control of their own being and destiny. I am the person that refuses to clap when the minister says “If you love the Lord clap your hands”. I refuse to submit to the authority of what feels like a Simon says style of worship.  I have finally been able to articulate why I don’t need a Savior (outside of the precious savior baby Blue Ivy) during the last half of the year. I have become more and more comfortable with the fact that while culturally I am very much a product of the Black Christian environment I was raised in, however theologically I am not and do not desire to be a Christian. In my head the blessed Savior in the song refers more to a higher power, the divine, father/mother God, the universal force, etc.

Giving it up (whatever it is) to a higher power has got to be one of the hardest things for me to do. I have been struggling with unknown aspects of my future. If I am to finish my PhD this Spring…what is next? What am I going to do? I am planner and not having a concrete plan, at times causes an unbearable and crippling anxiety to overtake my body. Singing “I surrender all” has been helpful in overcoming some of this anxiety. The power of surrender became clear to me about 2years ago while watching Oprah’s Master class. This is probably the thing that stuck out for me the most.

“God can dream a bigger dream for me, for you than you can ever dream for yourself. When you worked as hard and done as much and strived and tried and given and plead and bargained and hoped. Surrender. When you have done all that you could do and there is nothing left for you to do. Give it up. Give it up to that thing that is greater than yourself and let it then become a part of the flow.”

So for 26 I am making surrendering and letting go a major part of my life. There is no point of me trying to control my destiny and make myself sick thinking of the uncertainty. What I do know is that I have done the work. This applies to school/academia, my romantic relationships, and my relationship with others. I have done what is needed to be successful in those regards and now it’s time for me to let some things go and let God do the rest. Iyanla and Oprah had both made it clear to me that you have to do the work, you can’t expect changes if you are not actively engaged in the work. I know I am not the only one who have been watching “Iyanla, fix my life,” if you have not- you NEED TO.

I turned 26 years old on Wednesday. 26 was old a couple years ago- you know when I was 20. I am not where I thought I would be-that is neither a good or bad thing. I spent my birthday white-water rafting on the Chiriqui River in Panama. This marks the 3rd birthday and Christmas I spent solo. I really enjoy traveling alone. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. I get to spend quality time with myself and think and mediate. I get to read for pleasure! (Currently reading the newest Oprah book club selection) Do things that I really don’t have the time or energy to do when I am home or with other people.

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mean mugging

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I smile

I smile

One of my new friends

One of my new friends

My raft group included 2 girls, their mother and her best friend. Every year their family goes someplace for Christmas. This year their group included 7 people. They have done Belize, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, etc. this got me thinking how nice it would have been to share some of these memories with the people closest to me. I was wondering would my dad done the white water rafting or how tough Jeremiah would have pretended to be.  As the rafting trip progress the idea I was previously toying with- traveling with my parents as an adult begin to really develop in my head. My parent’s anniversary is on Dec 29th. It’s been three years since I spent it with them. I guess it is THEIR anniversary….I don’t have to be there but since we are each other’s favorite people in the world- I think they would want me around. I don’t plan to spend the next Christmas, my next birthday or their next wedding anniversary without them. I am planning to rent a house in the Caribbean next year. I am learning just because I can do things alone, doesn’t mean I always have to. After spending the last two NYE with the most intense feelings of homesickness and sadness because I wasn’t home, I am looking forward to spending NYE at Watch Night service at my daddy’s church.

 

My goal for this 26th year of life is to surrender to the divine and share love. The future is bright. I got a feeling the universe has some surprises and blessings in store for me. You can count on Oprah, Blue Ivy and the Color Purple to continue to play a big part in my world.

 

~Just Tab

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2012 in Holidays, Learning bout Tab!, Oprah, Travel

 

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Nica What? Nica Please!

I arrived in Esteli, Nicaragua on Thursday. Got off the bus, called Emilio and 15mins he was there in his truck to pick me up. When we arrived to his home the first thing I noticed was the door leading to his restaurant and one of his employees preparing food. I am sure some of you are ready for me to tell you, he pulled out a cot in the kitchen for me to sleep. My accommodation at Emilio’s was probably the best I had during my trip. He took me upstairs to where he lives. A nice open floor plan with big beautiful windows, his balcony overlooked a beautiful church next door.  My room was big with nice windows with an attached bathroom. Each evening I would go downstairs and “decide” what I wanted to try on the menu of his Mexican restaurant. He had really fast wi-fi. We love wi-fi. I am not exactly sure who else lives there. I know his mother lives there but she is in Mexico with his girlfriend for a month. He seemed to be very excited about his girlfriend being away. There was this little girl that was there. He tried to explain to me who she was but I still don’t really get it. She got really comfortable with me after a couple days and proceeded to play with all my stuff. I couldn’t understand her with her missing front tooth and fast Spanish. But she was still a cutie. I think one of his employees might live there as well and he had another house behind the restaurant that I think his aunt might live.

I mostly explored the town, red, ate, went to waterfalls and talked with Emilio. Saturday night I stumbled on some kids break dancing in the park.

One of the reasons I went to Esteli is another couchsurfer’s profile Asha. She works with disabled children and was always looking for volunteers. I accompanied her and her boyfriend (who she had met through couchsurfing and after a month they moved in together) to the school. She does animal therapy so we brought dogs and geinuie pigs for the kids. One of the kids took my camera and took some shots.

Esteli was cool. I really liked Emilio, even though it was different being hosted by a man. We didn’t have the whole men suck thing to bond over. Instead we talked about music, race and class. Oh and the uselessness of marriage. Sunday after visiting the waterfall, I headed to Leon.

I stayed with Carlos, who Asha’s boyfriend Rudy put me in contact with him. I found Carlos easily enough. He was tall and he walked in front of me, giving me a chance to check out his muscular back and swag. He rents rooms and was in between two houses. He showed me where I would be staying and we walked to the other house, along the way he found a stray kitten. He has 5 animals at the second house, glad I wasn’t staying there.

I wanted to volcano board and do a 2-day trek while in Leon. When I first heard of volcano boarding my first reaction was “White people already making up new ways to die”. But I saw some pictures and it look safe enough. Yeah, the volcano was “active” but it hasn’t gone off since 1995. I get to the place Monday morning, earlier enough to eat breakfast there. As I was eating breakfast I notice this girl with this huge burn on her arm. I got a bit nervous looking at it. So I asked her if she got that volcano boarding. She replies “Yes, I am Sarah and I will be your guide for the day.” I got really nervous. She said she does it every day and she is bound to have scrapes and bruises, but I should be fine. Before leaving I got an email on my phone (shout out to wi-fi on BB’s) informing me of a deadline for a book review for a journal I agreed to do in March. Life was calling. Eventually our group of 20 begins to boards the truck for the bumpy 45 min ride to Cerro Negro. Once at the base of the mountain they threw us bags with our “protective gear” and plywood boards. I don’t think any of us realize that we had to carry our boards up the volcano.  The next hour and half was physically the toughest experience of my trip. It was hot. The terrain was rough. The sun was beating our faces and the heat from the active volcano was on our feet. There was a certain way we had to hold the boards so that it wouldn’t get to hot on the paneling before we got to board. We stop a few times to rest, which gave me time to really think about the intelligence of my decision. Oh and I really had to use the bathroom. She would tell us random facts about volcanoes and the area- I felt like I was in the Volcano episode of the Magic School Bus– auctually traveling inside the volcano. We were able to look inside of craters. I could feel my head pounding from the heat and my clothes were soaked as we walked. Eventually we made it to the point where we would be boarding. She led some others to another point of the volcano, since I felt like I was dying I stay put and waited for them to return. Oh, while we were walking she pointed to another volcano close by that erupted 2 weeks ago with people on it. Why was I on this active volcano again. Poor Sarah everyone in our group was punks. As she explained how the record was 86 km per hour, all we cared about how did we go slow. Apparently she believed our goal was to go ridiculously fast and break this 86 km per hour record, we did not agree. We went in groups of 2, the first couple of groups sucked- taking forever to get down. Sarah called this the worst day ever. I don’t know why she was so annoyed- she was still getting paid. When it was my turn, I did ok. I was going really fast, but the faster you go the harder it is to stay centered and not flip over. I flipped twice. When I got to the bottom I discovered my “injury”. Hopefully my pretty legs aren’t scarred for life. They passed out cheap beer and these tasty cookies at the end. I don’t drink beer, but it was cold and I was hot. I had about a quarter of the beer before throwing it out. Pretty sure they called it Cerro Negro because everyone is black after that mountain. I am about 4 shades darker and my bra was full of black gravel.

Once back at the hostel they had mojitos waiting on us. I stopped drinking liquor about 3 years ago. But I was thinking I need to stop placing limits on myself, all these rules on what Tab does and not does not do needs to go. Plus the mojitos were free. So I had one. This mojito was probably made of the cheapest rum and reminded me why I don’t drink liquor- I don’t like the taste. I eventually made it back to the place I was staying. I was tired from the mojito, the sun and the hiking. Carlos was there telling me something about him leaving for Managua and what was my plans. How long would I be in Leon? At this point I was over my desire to go on a 2-day hike, so I told him I was leaving the next day. Of course I had no idea where I was going. I woke up from my nap still feeling sick. I had a book to read and a review to write. I figured I would go to the beach and stay there for a couple days. No internet. No distractions. Woke up the next day still sick. About 20 minutes before I was about to leave to go to Las Penitas. I decided I was over packing my stuff and moving every 2 days. I researched how much it would be if I changed my flight and decided it was too expensive. So I decided to take my but to Managua, the capital and the city I would be flying out of and just chill until it was time to go. I haven’t really had the energy or desire to do much in the city. The first night I was here the transformer blew and I was without electricity for 24 hours. I spent the second night still ridiculously sick. I woke up about 4x throughout the night to use the bathroom. I was tired so I never turn the lights on but the first time I noticed some water on the floor. The second time the floor seemed a bit wetter and I thought I should put on shoes. The third time I turn on the lights and saw that the pipe to the toilet overflew, which not only got the floor in the bathroom wet but also parts of the room.  My jacket, socks and a couple of other things got soaked in this lovely water. Since I was feeling weak and sick I went back to bed, opting to deal with the mess later. Of course my stomach issue awoke me a 4th time, I decided to just stay up and wait for the hotel owner to wake up. He gave me another room and washed my stuff that got wet. So why was I sick? I blame it on heat exhaustion from volcano boarding, cheap bear/liquor and me eating everything people made for me. For a while I thought I was low key lactose intolerant, I am pretty sure of that now. Central America and their affinity for milk and cheese have not been good to my stomach. I felt the healthiest ever when I was vegan. I am off meat again and will be veganish until I finished those frozen girl Scout cookies in my fridge in AZ. I decided to stop eating out. I went to supermarket and made dinner Thursday and Friday night and breakfast in the  morning. Thursday night’s pasta was vegan, no animal products used! I was tired of eating greasy mess and I am grown, all grown people should be able to cook for themselves. Still not at my best but feeling a little better. I am still having these chest pains. Finished the book, now on to writing the review. Went and saw a performance at the National Theatre last night. More about that and me not being a man here. Shout out to the trannie prositutes I encountered when I left. My flight leaves here at 1:11 Sunday morning. I pretty much have a whole day to kill. I ended up not meeting up with anyone from CS here in Managua because I am really not that social. I had my fill of meeting new foreigners. I am really ok with…

~JustTab

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2011 in Nicaragua, summer, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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Honduras

Never judge a book by its cover. We all know that right? But judging is so fun and easy to do. It’s easy to allow you preconceived notions of people to cloud who they actually are. Or to think one aspect of someone defines who they are in totality. Everything happens for a reason, nothing is by chance. Originally Tela was not on my list of places to go in Honduras. I was going to La Ceiba and then head to the Bay Islands. The person I wanted to stay with in La Ceiba was leaving for the states for a week. I decided to look up couchsurfers in Tela, it had a beach and Garifuna community close by. I saw Gaby’s profile, which said she “maybe” had a couch. I hit her up and she told me to come through. I ended up leaving Tegus a day early because it was too big and busy for me. I must have been reading her profile too quickly because I was not really prepare for what her living situation was.  She told me she lived next to the “Pulperia al Centro” But all that was next to it was what looked like a closed store. The big metal type closing, kind of like a storage unit. I got out the cab and asked the man working in the Pulperia did he know Gaby. Which he did, he said she was home… next door. I knocked on the metal door thing and she let it up. Her home was a former store that consisted of a room with a mattress on the floor, the kitchen and the bathroom. He Romanian boyfriend Codrut was sitting on the mattress using the computer.

I had trouble understanding his Spanish because he was a bit intoxicated. I would later find out that he was the first person she ever hosted through couchsurfing. They have been together for a year. So I guess CS is a good way to find love. It was late but she took me to get some baleadas- traditional Honduran food. When we got back I wondered where I would be sleeping. She made me a pallet on the floor. Ok. I can do this. To the left of me was a big outdoor grill and to the right of me was Cudot and Gaby’s bed.

The next day consisted of me helping them with the golf park and signing up for a snorkeling tour for the following day. The golf park actually looked pretty nice. They plan to open it in a couple of weeks. Sorry, Atira they are pretty much done so I can’t design a hole.

The first place I went to didn’t have enough people for a tour the next day, so I signed up with Garifuna Tours which had 2 other people on their list. Gaby had mention in her correspondence that her friend was coming, Delny arrived that afternoon. The second night I slept on the floor with Delny. Ok. Different. I can still do this. 4 people in one room is not excessive. I slept in the bed with 5 people in college (David K., Dorian, Ke’herra and Kristin). On Valentine’s night I slept in the bed with my L.P. her son and 5 dogs.

The next morning when we woke up Gaby made us all breakfast and I headed out for my tour. When I arrived at the spot there was a large group of college aged U.S. Americans paying to go on the tour. I quickly learned that they were returning from a month of missionary work in rural Honduras. I am not the biggest fan of missionaries, even though my parents have done missionary work as recently as last month. I’m actually quite opinionated on this subject. I think as a whole historically missionaries have done more harm than good, especially on the continent of Africa. I could go further in how civilizing and “saving” Africans were ways that enslavement of African people was justified. I really never got the whole “saving” aspect of being a believer in Christ. I never really spend time with missionaries. Of course, my parents and other friends of mine have been to various countries performing religious missionary work. But I know them as people first and not “missionaries”. Plus Rev. Dr. Daddy has become quite accustomed to my rants about Europeanized Christianity. I honestly think the most effective way to get someone attention is not by telling them why they are wrong, thumping the bible at them or arguing your case- just be about it, live what you are saying. I can honestly say this is what this group did at least the short time I was around them. Amazingly beautiful and open people, they were the epitome of letting your light shine. I feel blessed to have met them and I glad I was open instead of immediately shutting down because I have some ethical issues with “missionaries”.

Back to the day trip. We took a boat from Tela to Punta Sal, which is an island and a national park.

The water magically changed to a beautiful aqua color as sailed to our destination.

The beaches in Tela could use a serious cleaning. When we arrived we were immediately greeted by jellyfish. We saw about 3 when we got close to shore, as we past the place where we would be snorkeling later that day. We saw a school of them- 15-25.

We were told the likely hood of us snorkeling was very low that because the jellyfish were hogging the reef. When we finally docked we took a hour hike into the jungle to be feasted on by mosquitoes. We saw nice big poisonous spiders random and random hybrid fruit (avocados that smell like licorice). The highlight were the monkeys, the guide had us all clap our hands together. Which made the monkeys roar and swing from the tree.

We got back on the boat, to investigate the snorkeling area once again. We saw one. However a brave soul name Adrain decided he would snorkel any way and jumped off the boat.

The rest of us went to the shore and got did a lil swimming away from the reef. While I love the beach I rarely get in the water. I can count maybe one other time I was in the ocean in the last 7 years. Adrain came back and claimed he didn’t see any jellyfish but he saw all these amazing fishes and corals. So we all decided to go. It was nice. But after about 10-15 min I remembered I was black, I can’t really swim, there were jellyfishes in the water and I didn’t have my glasses on so I was kinda blind. The shore seem far off and they were swimming farther away.

I returned. Eventually we all left for another part of the island to have lunch-plantains, fish, rice and beans. I gave my fish away. All was well as we prepared to leave. No one wanted their life vest on because they were wet and sandy, thankfully the people insisted. We ran into some kind of ridiculous storm on the way back. Rain and wind. The top of the boat kept trying to come of it. The missionaries were loving it but me and the other passengers-not so much. I was wet and cold. Once we got close to Tela we had to jump off the boat and push it, not fun.

While I do not generally like people, people generally like me- especially when the first meet me. Of course the missionaries would be captivated by my charm and invite me to have dinner with them. It was their last night in Honduras before going back home. The dinner was fun. The girls were so nice and cute and just excited about life. The missionaries insisted on taking me home after dinner. They all piled in the van to take me to Gaby’s house. I was thinking these people are going to think I am crazy…sleeping in a place with a metal door! When we approach the place Gaby was throwing a bottle out the door which was only partially closed and a little boy kept throwing it back in. The missionaries were all like…so this is where you are staying?!?! When the door was fully open I noticed two more people. These skinny white girls with dreadlocks. I said goodbye to the missionaries and went inside. I quickly learned that these girls had stayed with Gaby previously and just came back from the Bay Islands. One was from Spain and the other from Argentina due to the cuddling I noticed later that night I think they might have been a couple. Anyways there were now six of us sleeping in that one room. An mattress suddenly appeared for me to sleep on. Delny left at 4am to catch her bus to San Pedro Sula for work. I left at 5:30 am to go to La Ceiba, the air mattress lost most of its air during the night.

La Ceiba is about 2 hours away. Once there I took another bus to the Omega Jungle Lodge. A eco-friendly lodge ran by some Germans. They had an outdoor solar power shower, a fresh-water chemical free pool and toilets where you could actually flush the paper.

It was 30 min outside of town so if you were going to eat- you had to eat there. The reason I was there was to go white-water rafting. For a person who does not do water- this was a big deal. We went the following morning, my group of 5 were divided into 2 boats with a guide on each. They taught us how to paddle, terms and made us jump off to practiced saving/getting saved. Then we were off. It rained the night before which allowed us to raft about 4KM more than the previous’s day group. We all had on life vest and helmets. It was so much fun “riding the rapids”, eventually we got to this rock. They told us to get off and jump. I was told them I was  sorry I am Black, I don’t do things like that. After much peer pressure I climbed up and jumped with my glasses tied to head with string. My first time jumping off of anything. I did not die. Later towards the end of the river there was another rock. This one was 6m the first was 2m. The South African lady and I were the only ones who decided to try. I was nervous as hell and she was so calm- until it was time for her to jump. It took her about 5 min before she jumped. I was quoting bible verses for her to give her courage. She did it! Then it was my turn. I was up there for about 10 min talking to the guy about what to do and what not to do. He kept telling me I had to stay straight when I jumped or else I would hit another rock. I was repeating EVERY bible verse I knew. “For God has not given us the spirit of fear…” I really really wanted to do but my shaking legs would not jump. I am sure I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me bout he was not giving me much strength. Eventually I jumped off a lower part of the rock about 3m. I came up coughing/ choking because I swallowed water. But hey I jumped- my 2nd jump ever! You don’t have to be proud of me but I am proud of me. We came back and I took a shower in the outside shower- perfect. I will have an outside shower in my home. We ate lunch together and I left for La Ceiba.

I spent the night there before my 7.5 hour ride to Tegus, the capital. I ended up sending a last minute message to some people on couchsurfers as I used Pizza hut’s wifi to have dinner and drinks. The girl responded and agree to meet me. She, her friend and I all went for dinner and drinks. It was fun. I got back at 1 am and was locked out my dingy hotel. I had to bang to get in. The next morning I left for Nicuragua. Here I am staying with Emilio. Who is Emilio? Well he owns a Mexican restaurant and lives in a REAL house!

All in all Honduras was cool, besides their Taxi drivers who all try to rip me off.

~JustTab

Randomness: On the bus to Tela we stopped for dinner. I walked into the bathroom and this woman comes up behind me and says. “Esta bano es por mujers, el otro bano es por hombres.” I pointed to my “breast” which are pretty non-existent with my sports bra (I am actually wear bra’s here) and smiled. When I wasn’t being mistaken for a man I was being told how beautiful I was…

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2011 in Honduras, summer, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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What not to do…

San Salvador was cool, in a very U.S.A. clone type way; every major U.S. American franchise-including Chilis, Wal-mart (I hate this corpation), Zara, Bennigans, Papa Johns, etc. While these brands are probably found in every Central American capital city, I was put off a bit by the “mini-malls” that look exactly like CityPlace or any other new shopping center in America.

The development and house that Carmen lived at looked like any other gated community that I have visited. El Salvador even uses American currency as their official currency. Everything I was doing, I could pretty much do at home. Carmen wanted me to stay another day, but I decided I wanted to visit Suchitoto. This town is away from the big city, safer and historic. Since watching the film “Innocent Voices,” I have been really interested in the civil war in El Salvador. The U.S. spent over a million dollars a day for years supporting the El Salvadorian army. Currently, with the massive influx of American franchises and businesses it is easy to see why the USA had such a vested interest in El Salvador. As I shed my Republican/Capitalist skin, I have been embracing my leftist and socialist side. I still really like George W….sue me. Suchitoto was a major stronghold for the FMLN, the guerilla forces who fought against the army during the civil war.

Noble intentions, right? Now for the part of the story that’s a short chapter in my “This is what you don’t do” book. Tuesday morning Carmen dropped me off at the bus station. I left my water bottle in her car, I am still upset about that. It was so perfect and my favorite color pink. Sadly, it was the wrong bus station, so I had to take another bus to the right station. So imagine me and my HUGE backpack and my smaller back on my stomach waiting at the bus stop along with all the other El Salvadorians going to work or whatever. As much as I like to show off my strength (see the million pictures of me picking up random people) carrying mi mochilla- which probably weighs at least 45 pds around with me is no fun and I think it marks me as a target. I might as well walk around with a fanny pack and Lonely Planet. This guy approaches me, David. He told me where to go, about how he used to live in the U.S., his divorce from his American wife and his job. Of course this ended with him giving me his number and telling me how he wants to take me out. David was pretty cute and under different circumstance he could have got it. In Guatemala, I rarely got approached by men. As I go further down south, this is changing-rapidly; this might have something to do with people getting darker and “curlier” hair.

I finally got to Suchitoto, with no place to stay. I had a vague idea about where I could possibly stay, the options were pretty limited. It was either really cheap ($7-15) or really expensive ($75-200) a night. I went with the cheap. Vista Al Lago. It got pretty decent reviews, but I should have thought about the source Lonely Planet. I think those books are written for an audience that is dirty and a bit punkish. Their idea of clean or unsafe is not exactly the same as mine. My room was basically a wooden box, with a fan and a bad light and no windows. The bathroom was outside, but was fairly clean. The owners were really nice and the view was good.

I spent the rest of the day exploring the town, mailing postcards and getting my tour set up for the next day. After this I went to this cyber café to plan my life or my next move. I wanted to leave El Salvador, for the capital city in Honduras. There was a theatre festival going and Thursday was the final day. Since I stayed in Guatemala an extra day I missed my chance to see a play in El Salvador. I basically had 2 options to get to Honduras.

  1. To leave directly after my horseback tour for the Honduras border using a series of “public” buses to make it to the border. Once in Honduras try to make it as close as possible to the capital before calling it a day. I researched places to stay at various place en route to the capital. The problem with this is no one could tell me how long it would take me to get the border.
  2. Go back to San Salvador after the horseback tour and try to catch the last “luxury” direct bus leaving for the Honduran capital. If I missed that bus I could stay another night with Carmen. Maybe go out dancing or something. Then take a direct bus from San Salvador to Honduras at 5am. I would still be able to catch the final performance of the festival.

While I was using the internet another woman came in. After I a while I decided to ask her eat with me. You know the whole hating to eat alone thing, plus I always need to practice my asking out skills. Her name was Kelly or something she was from England and was spending a year in Central America. We went to a bar that was owned by a man who parents were guerilla soldiers. The bar was covered with Che, FMLN, Socialist and leftist poster. He told us more about the war, which got me more excited about my tour the next day. It was pitch black as I walked back to my room. When I got to my room I started rethinking my decision to stay there. I Lysoled the sheets but was still not happy with cleanliness of them, so I slept in my sleeping bag. I didn’t want to shower or use the bathroom because I did not want to meet the animals that might be outside at night. I had to listen to my audiotape of Maya Angelou to fall asleep. I woke up at 5am, with the urgent need to use the bathroom. It wasn’t until 6 am that I had the courage to use the bathroom. It was cold in the morning and I did not have the desire to shower in the cold water outside. So I got dressed, packed and read until it was time to get picked up for the horseback riding tour. I figured I would eat later.

I don’t know why I thought a 5hr tour on a horse was a good idea. 5 hrs on anything is too much let alone a horse. Saddles were either not designed for women or designed to be a torture device for women. As good as I am at riding and I am pretty darn good, I think I prefer to be ridden. The tour was informative, I liked my guide. My horse, Katrina was slow as molasses and prefer to eat grass rather than walk.  We were riding through the jungle. At some points there was no path in my opinion, just trees and branches with the desire to harm me. Of course Katrina did not make it any easier, I swear she was trying to get me hurt. I got scratched by branches and Katrina ran my knee into a tree…I bled. After 3 hrs I was uncomfortable on the horse that I pretty much tuned everything out. I was also thinking about a possible scar that could be forming on my sexy legs. When we finally made it back, I was sore.

Still had not made a decision on what I was going to do next. After returning to town and getting my stuff I decided to make a run for the border. I knew I wouldn’t make the bus in San Salvador and I did not want to ask Carmen to wake up at 4am to take me the bus station. I left at 2pm took 2 buses and made it to the border at 5:30pm. I spent most of this time waiting for the busses to come. It should have taken me no more than 2 hrs if I didn’t have to wait on buses so much.

When I got to the area before the border, this kid took me on his bicycle contraption through immigration and border security for a $1. I then took a cab to the bus station in the town. I knew that there was a “direct” bus to Tegus that left there at midnight and since all the buses to other towns had stopped for the day I decided this was my best option. Now this is where stupidity takes over. I decided this was smarter than staying in a hotel and leaving early the next morning. I could just stay at the bus station!  Think about how pretty I am, I cannot possible be smart as well. I brought my ticket from this older toothless fellow name Luis. Then went to find food, at this point its 6:30pm and I have not eaten since 8pm the day before. The food I got was disgusting and greasy and nasty. I went back to the bus station. I thought the restaurant in the hotel next to/ attached to the ticket office was the waiting area. It was not. The waiting area was this semi covered area between the restaurant and the ticket office. In the back was a hotel, which seemed more like apartments and the front faced the street. This is where I was going to spend the next few hours. Then Luis came over started talking to me, about how nice and pretty I was. And where the “morenas” lived in Honduras and how much he likes morenas. He asked if I had a boyfriend. I told him yes. I learned to say yes to this question after a man repeatedly told me “Me gusta tu” as I waited for a bus earlier, followed by an invitation to his house. He told me it didn’t matter if I had a boyfriend when I was abroad. Luis was a little more touchy feely then I am comfortable with. This is when I started to think about the intelligence of my decision to stay at a bus station all night. At some point Luis goes back to the office. This other comes around and starts talking to me. He says he is going to clean one of the busses outside. I try to lay down on the chairs as I listen to music. He comes back shirtless and asks me if I wanted to sleep on the bus with him. “No, gracias. Estoy bien.” I tell him. I am starting to feel real vulnerable. I won’t say I forget that I am a girl sometimes, because I don’t. I always feel like a girl. However, I often forget how the world views my femaleness, particularly men. Just because I feel/ think I look asexual, does not stop others from sexualizing me. Many men worldwide have the tendency to believe that women are here solely for their pleasure. After all God did make Eve for Adam right? This tendency to see women as here for them sometimes makes men believe they can do whatever they want with us. Scary thought. Especially when one is alone in foreign country being approached by men who language and customs one is not familiar with. I am always reminded that a Black woman can not be raped.

I started thinking about my L.P. who always has a huge knife with her. Whenever we are hiking or going to see a play, she reminds me she has it in case someone acts up. She took ot her huge blade as I was paying for parking at ASU, I kept telling her she was scaring the white people. If I am going somewhere alone, she asks me if I want her knife. I always make fun of her knife. Suddenly, carrying a knife seemed pretty darn smart. I go back in the room where my bag was being kept and slyly found my knife and put it in my pocket. I was ready to cut somebody if anyone tried me! Luis left at 9:30. They shut off most of the lights and closed the area that led to the street. I was secure in the sense that no one could come off the streets and get me, but unsecure in the sense that I was pretty much locked in. I waited from 7-12:30 am for the bus to come. Once the bus came it was already pretty packed and not the cleanest vehicle. This was supposed to be a direct bus. Their definition of direct was very different than mine. It was supposed to take 9hrs. It took 12 hrs. We were always stopping either to let people off/get people or for the police to search the bus. I would wake up randomly to 4 police men on the bus. It was hot and nasty. Most people would use the side of the road for bathrooms. The places we stopped with bathrooms were disgusting. I longed for the mini-America of El Salvador and Carmen’s 3/2 cookie cutter home. There were always people coming on the bus trying to sell us random food and drinks. I am sorry, but I am not buying fruit or tamales off people who carry them on their head all day. At one place we stopped there was a black guy selling stuff. He immediately started telling me about how he used to live in the states but his baby mama got him deported for child support. He then went on to tell me about how God told him he needed a woman like me in his life…um ok.

I finally got to Tegus around 1pm. I had not showered since Monday night. If cleanliness is next to godliness, I was kicking it with the devil fa sho. No food since the crap I ate the night before. I got to hotel. Took a hot shower! Hot! I haven’t had a steamy hot shower since I been here. Put on a nice clean dress. Felt so fresh and so clean. Back to being next to godliness. Then went directly to a Pizza Hut which I have been craving since I had some in Guatemala City, my first in years. I went back to my room and slept. You know in a bed. Not next to somebody in hot dirty bus.

Once I got up I headed to the National Theatre of Honduras “Teatro Nacional Manuel Bonilla” for the final performance of the festival. I have been dying to see a live performance here. I kind of enjoy theatre, just a bit. I have only spent the majority of my short life being involved in some aspect of it. I was not concern about not really speaking Spanish because good acting (and bad acting) conquers language barriers. Also the name of the festival was “Encuentro Centroamericano de Mimo,” it focused on mime performance-which made the language difference mismo. The only issue I had was with the last piece that was very language heavy, angry and very confusing. The show started late, so I spent that time writing a very confusing and abstract letter to my parents about “life”. I am still writing letters, even out here. I have sent about 14 letters and 5 postcards. Take a wild guess who has gotten 3 letters and 1 postcard from me so far. Anyway the show was good. The theatre was old, historic and beautiful. People brought their children, Me encanta familias en teatros. I wish I had my camera, I took some shots with the Blackberry though.

Apparently people are told not to use flash photography in theatres in Central America.  So was it worth it? Being on a bus for half a day, not eating or showering for hours upon hours… I am reminded of the lyrics to one of the songs in A Chorus Line “I won’t forget, I can’t regret what I did for love.”

Lessons learned. I am sure there are more but this is all I could think of now…

  1. As down as I am with the people. I refuse to take transportation “common” people can afford to take on destinations more than 5 hours away. My republican side takes over and I can’t be chilling all dirty. If I took the “luxury” bus that was 2.5x as much I would I have arrived at the same time and they serve meals on there!
  2. I am woman. That makes me vulnerable to the sexual advances of men. I will keep my blade close. As I typed this its clip to inside of my jeans. Very easy access.
  3. Don’t try and “spend” a night in a bus station.

I am done with Tegus. I arrived in Tela Friday. It’s on the Carribbean side of Honduras. I am ready to chill at the beach. Sunday I am going snorkeling. I won’t lie, I am kind of excited to see some dark skin people with nappy hair like me. I like think that a lot of my life and what I do channels Zora Neale Hurston. The whole father being a pastor, growing up in Flordia and being brilliant…she sounds just like me! Zora did a lot of anthropological work in Haiti (check) and Honduras (check)- she was one of the first to do work all over the diaspora on African people. Once again I will try to find out more about the Garifuna and other African descended people in Central America, it didn’t go so well in  Guatemala. I am staying with Gaby and her boyfriend. Who is Gaby? Well according to her profile she is building Tela’s first mini-golf park…

~Just Tab

The biggest shout out to the Creator, God, Allah, Jesus the Christ, Oshun, Shango, Saint Peter, etc. for keeping me safe. It ain’t nothin’ but the blood, grace and mercy that keeps me safe.

 

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