May 08th, 2005 :

Its been a complete day – since I arrived here and things couldn’t seem more bleak for the likes of me. From a lack of running water to the breezeless humidity to the peculiar stink and the droning sounds that never stop. I am quite literally in travel destination purgatory. Chalky walls that rub off on your clothes and floors that are laden with askew tiles surround me. Its at times like these that I wonder – is this payback for making fun of the lady with the crazy eyes on the subway? That other time, when I snatched the last pair of Donna Karan yoga shoes from another bargain hunting vulture – maybe I am being punished for that. Why? I get it – I wanted a vacation and this is the universe’s way of saying, “I don’t think so bitch!” Maybe it won’t be so bad. I might surprise myself and have a good time?? Hopefully a runaway car will strike me before I find out the answer. HELP!

May  14th 2005 :
 … The humidity has picked up, cloudless sky with the brutal sun bearing down, the sand granules sparkle in the white hot heat. Behind me, the building stands unwavering with an asbestos roof that has little holes in it like skylights. The flies buzz around in a cacophony of sound – always around, never leaving.  Standing around in this weather, where the air is as hot as the sun – enough to broil you. Your skin has the moisture level of a sticky bun. I happened to catch my reflection in the mirror. My freshly cropped coif is askew being covered entirely by a makeshift bandanna. My eyes are tired and staring at me unblinking from behind the glasses I wear. I find myself for once, not caring about what the mirror tells me. There is an empty pot for water in my hand, as one of the little ones tugs my hand – waiting on me so that we may leave to go get water from the well 8 miles away. I feel vacant like the barren fields we see as we walk. There is inkling deep within me of a grief that cannot be lessened. HELP!

June 26th, 2005 :
 … Long breezy days, the beach, the carelessness of being in a place where time doesn’t matter. Despite my horror forecast, I have arrived at my personal “survivor” scenario – in a village, to be more precise. All of the clichés about a village exist here. There are the stray dogs, the naked children with distended bellies, men sitting at the local shop exchanging stories, women drying clothes – throwing the wet laundry on the dry bushes to be sun dried. The funny thing is that I am not so scared by all of it. Rather, there is now a plethora of memories hiding in the fields, sneaking out from sides of prickly bushes that flank either sides of the skinny local roads. Not all of it has been a part of some travel advertisement. But this land has taught me well – the hot sun burns in my skin the brutality of life for the people that surround me, the indignation they feel for being forgotten. The lack of water has taught me that not everything in life is free flowing, clear or soothing – that sometimes there occur dire circumstances that require the strength of the spirit. The strength I see in the trees, in the cracked land that doesn’t come apart softly, I want it to be ingrained in me. As I drove steadily to the coast, I could hear the ocean, the crashing, ululating waves that recalled the rhythm of our lives – whatever they may be. It instills a sense of hope that never ceases and never fails despite all impediments. This time I don’t want to call for help – because I have rescued myself.

(The paragraphs above are excerpts from different journal entries I made during my trip to Brazaville, South Africa in the summer of 2005.)

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