The “T.I.A.” 2019 Story

Mood Then:

I wanted to venture out on my own and did not want restrictions. Every day I left the airbnb, the drive was through a Favela-like region, fenced off, facing the highways. The inhabitants lived in communal homes self-made-mostly (I think) with parts of concrete, wood, metal sheets and random shit. There were shared public restrooms and trash as far as the eye could see from the highways of their area.

Upsetting is not even the word.

I learn most from strangers. There’s something in a fleeting moment that makes us honest unlike with other relationships. In South Africa I learned the most about the socio political sentiments from migrants from the North – Senegalese, Nigerian and Congolese Uber drivers chatted it up with me. They said racism was brutal – they were paid shit, treated like second class citizens and discriminated against constantly. Of course of course! The mixed-lighter-skinned folx are safer and overall more well and protected than the darker folx. That’s reminiscent of my experience everywhere. In Cuba, the Black folx told me for sure there was racism while the light skineed denied it. The difference was the violence. Everywhere else doesn’t match the constant physical violence towards Black folx in the U.S. Everywhere I travel, it is a common accepted belief that violence from the States only matches the violence inflicted by the States’ “authorities” on other countries.

To rebel, I ventured towards the parts that were “dangerous” for tourists. The airbnb host (Coloured) told me to be safe because the darker skinned folx would know I’m not local and I may be robbed or worse. There was not institutional racism, he had said, – that it was relatively peaceful “unlike the States.” But there he was showing me the racism. He told me that I could “fit in” within the Coloureds but my dress, comportment and clothing gave me away. Like a doofus, I actually wanted to stand out – at the conference. NOT on the Land with the Natives. So, I had to be careful because I had my nails done French tip and I know exactly how that changes my appearance.And here I was a privileged Gringa. But I conceded understanding that, duh, I am the foreigner here. Lest I maintain the disgusting stereotype of U.S. travelers who disrespect everybody and all living beings. I was frustrated that I was confined to a shopping area and a boogie beach but I settled.

Mostly because of the ostrich and kudu dining options, I chose the beach. They were delicious in curry!!

<more pictures coming soon>

amos pa’ la playa
Pa’ curarte el alma
Cierra la pantalla
Abre la medalla
Todo el mar caribe
Viendo tu cintura
Tú le coqueteas
Tú eres buscabulla
Y me gusta

No se x q, I have this itch. It is always exhilarating to try new foods and also to investigate that which is prohibited for my body. I want to eat local, including the animals of which are endemic and also maybe pests of some sorts to appease guilt-feelings. So, my final day in The moment was picturesque. A great view of the south Atlantic ocean with some rocks and bird in the background was before me and my journal. Everything was as I hoped for my final day in – a great dinner followed by a dusk on the beach. The only part missing was a lover. Enter frame:

Genius
What a charming motherfucker
What a fun, great artist

When Genius met Sucre:

He went through his entire collection for me making conversations about this and that. The ones I liked were placed here; the maybes were in another pile; the nopes were furtherest from my view. We shared a couple joints and beer, flowing chat, some mild flirting. He was convincing and I decided to buy some art from him and the adventure began.

First we looked for a bank. My card was either blocked or the machines down because nothing happened. Next we thought about traveling to my airbnb to get USD and Euros but it was much too far and he had to be back for a bus back to his Congolese group who traveled back together exactly in the nation’s version of The Projects. We sat there on the stoop of some hotel for a bit trying to figure out how to exchange the art as the sun was setting. Then came his idea:

What if you buy me a cell phone? Alright, let’s see what happens.

The sellers told me they needed my passport and return flight info and other private information to proceed. I began feeling uncomfortable so I resigned. “Sorry but I think I’m gonna head back to my airbnb. It’s getting late and I don’t want to get myself in trouble – I’m not giving anyone that info.” But wait. He was also gonna hook me up with 2 joints worth of Cannabis. “We can figure this out. Let me think about it.”

Since I enjoyed his company, I waited patiently to see what he’d come up with next. “Maybe we can just go to a store and you buy me stuff.” Let’s see how long and complicated this can get. We jumped into a few places – felt like we were running around Camps Bay looking for the just-right spot. It was not the easiest transaction but I learned and felt great from the experience. First I learned about a common habit of “elderly and poor people” (is it a stereotype? just there? half real life? like poor people on my continent do?). A “sad looking” usually woman will put food into your hands or cart and stand next to you. They will push that you can afford to just help them feed their family. It was affordable for me – my earnings were the minimum in the U.S. (for someone of my background, experience, education, privilege privilege…), but enough for me to share food with others. So I added a whole chicken for an elderly woman who followed me for a while around the store as Genius calculated his groceries. Finally, at check out, I was nervous but Great Success.

Lento y contento, cara al viento
Lento y contento, cara al viento

I gained 6 (or 8?) art pieces and he got groceries! I did not stick around for Genius to travel to his communal home and back with 2 joints so he’s holding on to them until I return 😉

We keep in touch via WhatsApp, Facebook and IG and we had chatted about a potential art-business but irl, I can’t so that shit. As soon as I figure my AWs, I’ll try and reach out to do some collaborating with him.

That was exactly a year ago today. I’m wearing the same outfit I wore for my research presentation at the conference titled:

Bethinking Our Inking: Temporal and spatial dimensions of art on contested spaces

It had not been approved officially as my dissertation research but the works began there in Cape Town.

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