Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Publish, Perish or be Stuck In A Karmatic Layover

In my quest to produce Black Diaspora Travels I continue to gain momentum by publishing essays of my ongoing passages through the looking glass of international -intercultural exchange. Printings and website posting of note are :

Born To Ride:Trekking On Two Wheels-
printed in Odyssey Couleur Magazine April/May issue 2009

The Skinny On Being Phat In Vietnam
Black Women Travel Anthology-in edit University Press
Publication Spring 2010

Baltimore's Got It And Got It Right
Blackatlas.com  October 2009-December 2009
innaugural posting Baltimore City review

Cuba: Color Lines Behind a Palm Curtain
pending delivery and posting

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It All Started In India

Eight years ago I started a physical journey.  I typed India + Motorcycle +Tour into Google and came up with an assortment of tour operators. I choose one that appealed to me in price and itenerary and allowed pillions as I didn't have a motorcycle license at the time. I contacted the company outlining my background and interests. I was then put in contact with a potential riding partner. J. Murray Small ( now a dear friend) nicknamed Wookie. Wookie and I spent a month riding across Rajasthan and sidetracked to Shimla in the Indian Himilaya.

There I was mistaken for an Indian ex pat travelling with White tourists. In truth I was an American passing as Canadian as the 911 attacks were freshly in global memory . I was mistaken for a national soft porn actress, almost traded for a tractor and solicited with offers of "kisses in all the loving places " in of all places a Mosque.

Two years later I was one of the last legally sanctioned visitors to Cuba prior to President Bush's tightening of the 50 year embargo. This time I followed the referal of a friend ( thanks Becca )  to a volunteer program which allowed for cultural exchange to Cuba over the Christmas Holidays.  Again I was mistaken for a local "passing" as an American.  I talked politics and love affairs with local women and attended midnight Christmas Mass.  I smoked Cohiba Cigars and drank Habana Club Anejo Ron.  I found out that what is Black is Brown and what is an American is a relative term.

My exodus from Cuba resembled the fall of Saigon. Mandated to be out of the country by midnight New Year's Eve I was only able to leave Cuba by pushing my American passport in front of me like a shield. My brown face melted into the surrounding last flight outers. I watched santeria practioners baptise a 10 year old boy with rum and fire. He appealed  to me as "tia"- an auntie to help him fly away from home.

Together we  boarded the Miami bound flight. He in his seer sucker suit,clutching his cardboard suitcase that surely carried all his family's hopes and dreams: And I carrying a tres guitar, two bottles of rum, a box of cigars and all the Che Guevara memorabilia legally allowed.
Two years after that I was repacking my motorcycle helmet and getting a second set of vaccines for southeast Asia. This time a three week tour of Vietnam again riding with Wookie.  Here I found the greatest level of culture shock. I was a talking gorilla oddity- poked,prodded and gawked at wherever I went. I even had the distinction of being demonized to small children to make them behave.  Go to sleep little one or the black boogie lady will eat you !

And now three years after that I am embarking on producing Black Diaspora Travels. Supported by family and friends I am endeavoring to create an African American Adventure Travel series. A hybrid of my experiences as a traveler ,woman of color and production professional.  I've created this blog to document this "journey". Here you will find testimonies to my wanderlust and outlets for my ambitions.

So c'mon lets see what we can see and see what it thinks of we.