Category Archives: Ear Holes (music)

It’s Getting Hot in Here…NYC edition

I’m just back from New York. The plan was to go see the Kara Walker exhibit at the Whitney, catch up with a friend or two and enjoy restaurant week, maybe watch a little hotel t.v. and get some work done.

Who was I kidding?

Friday started off great with a special delivery (yes, that’s cryptic, I know. lol). Unfortunately, the weather turned all The Day After Tomorrow on us. Snowflakes as big as tissues on an already snowpacked tundra-looking land was just one more reason KJ and I were ready to get outta dodge. Through snow, sleet and rain (really) we made it into Brooklyn by 8:30pm and into Manhattan by 9:30, just enough time to check-in, stash the car and hit Caroline’s Comedy Club to see Sheryl Underwood’s late set. There was no question that it was going to be hella-funny, and she didn’t disappoint, we laughed our way through 3 martinis each and had to explain some of the more “urban” jokes to the unsuspecting folks of the non-brown variety. After the set, at the bar (waiting for KJ) Sheryl walked up with several people in tow and uttered the most beautiful phrase in the human language: “Hey cutie, come hang out and let me buy you a drink.”

How could I say “No” to that? Yeah, of course I didn’t. Thus began a night that I can barely put into words here (to protect the innocent AND the guilty). KJ and I hung out with Sheryl and her friends, at the bar and acted up until the wee hours of the morning. Sheryl is razor sharp smart, kind and talented.  It was one of those nights, that was magic, where you don’t want to be anywhere other than where you are in that moment in time. It was not the last we’d see of the crew though.

Saturday, we hit the Whitney where KJ hustled a student discount and the exhibit was worth the journey. It wasn’t easy to get through either physically (so many people) and emotionally (antebellum south images of race/sex/brutality, etc.) kind of like my reactions to Frida Khalo’s work…Good art makes you feel, and not always good. My favorites where “Creme in your Coffee and Chocolate in your Milk” sketches from the 90’s and one of the video pieces from 2004. The exhibit moves out to UCLA’s Hammer Museum for the rest of the spring, so catch it if you can. Amazing. Here’s a brief, but good, everyman’s synopsis of the exhibit “My Enemy, My Complement, My Oppressor, My Love.”

We scooped up a couple bottles of wine to meet KC and the crew at his pad in Chelsea to whoop it up before heading back uptown to see The Color Purple on Broadway. Thanks to S for the hookup on a 1/2 price tickets link! The show was phenomenal. Chaka Khan was funny and fierce. I’ve seen her live before and she didn’t disappoint, she was so obviously born for the stage.

After the show we met up with Sheryl and the crew. again. until the wee hours. again. And she wouldn’t let us pick up the tab. again. KC and his crew met back up with us, toasts were made, friends were hugged and my favorite quote of the night was: “That’s why they put me in jail last Thursday!” As uttered by an arrogant “D” list rap personality who shall remain unnamed (hey, I ain’t crazy!).

We metro’d downtown for more club hopping KC and Kirk, but not before I got into a rather delightful conversation with a housing-challenged gentleman who regaled me with tales of his walk from Richmond (Virginia) to Atlanta (Georgia). Before we hopped off the train, we promised each other we’d meet up in Palermo, Italy one day.

The rest of the night gets sketch, Rated R/x, NSFW, TMI, WTF? and OMG! So, I’ll just let you fill in whatever story you’d like, I am generous enough to fill in the details like: Pork fried rice at 5am?

Sunday, we sent Sheryl a gift bag over to her hotel before heading to brunch at Junior’s over in Brooklyn off Flatbush. We decided to stay in Brooklyn and watched the game. I was down for the Pats the whole way, and I couldn’t be mad that they lost because the Giant’s defense really won that game. I lost a dollar to Charles who flip-flopped at half-time. Argghh! It was in the 40’s in NY and I guess that is like The Day After Tomorrow to them, Ella had the heat on in her apartment and when I woke up from my nap, I was convinced that I was in hell (and after the weekend, who could be surprised?). But then I realized I had on my hoodie and was too close to the radiator.

Whew. That was close.

I have to be back in NY on Wednesday. Who else is scared?


Crazy Stew

Life is kind of chill these days, lots going on, but no one thing is out of control, I feel dare I say…balanced…sort of? I LOVED the response to the last blog entry. I’m always fascinated by what people like to read and how they came to love the habit. I think Erica said somewhere that book recommendations are like wine, totally dependent upon personal taste. I LOVE Shiraz for example, but you can keep your bottle of Beaujolaise! But I digress. I leave you with a “stew” of things that are amusing, disturbing, and hopefully interesting. At the worst, you’ll kill 10 minutes of your workday!

[1] My friend and Semester at Sea Colleague Michael Maniates has an article in the Washington Post (WaPo) about how our need for ‘easy’ ways to go green, isn’t actually getting anything done. He’s smart + funny, so you’ll enjoy him as much as I do!

[2] Speaking of articles, yall know I love Malcolm Gladwell, who do I love MORE than Malcolm? David Sedaris of course, who has a hilarious piece in Esquire titled: “Six to Eight Black Men” and it is as ridonkulous (as SpinChick would say) as it sounds.

[3] I’m a badass/dumbass (take your pick).

Example number one: I was out until almost 2am on Friday night/Sat a.m. and my friend/colleague SpinChick still managed to drag me to an 8am Spin Class. I wasn’t particularly conversant at that time but I do remember mumbling something about “I hate your guts” but I’m not sure. At one point I looked over and she had rolled up her right t-shirt sleeve and she had a fake tattoo of a diesel truck on her bicep and I almost fell off the bike laughing.

Example number two: I went to bed considerably earlier on Saturday night but with more wine in my system (what?! you’ve never heard of the wine diet? it’s kind of like south beach with less food and more tannins) and managed to make it to the 9am Spin Class with KJ in tow. There were no fighting words or fake tattoos that time. But lots and lots of 80’s classic rock music.

Example number three: I am doing an Introductory Karate course in the Shorin Ryu style and I’m enjoying it. But every now and then I get the feeling that I’m a little too old to be messing around with this. My 23 year old private tutor has been studying this style for….16 years and after a workout with him on Friday night I finally understood the reasoning behind hip replacement surgery. So if you see me hobbling down the street with an uneven gait…don’t even stop to say Hi, just keep it moving and let me live my teenaged dreams in my (near) middle-aged body.

[4] I finished Kickboxing Geishas and I It was a fun, fast read and having been to a couple of the cities in Japan that the author visits made it more accessible. Definitely a recommended read for any Japanophiles. I am hoping to keep my eyes open long enough to start Stumbling on Happiness.

[5] I have a good friend who has returned to the often baffling, sometimes seedy and always entertaining world of dating. I have decided that observing a close friend date and experiencing their ups and downs is WAYYYYY better than actually doing it myself. All the fun, none of the expense and no STDs!

Speaking of dating, here’s two quotes that will be not at all applicable to my dear readers:

1. “You don’t pay prostitutes to sleep with you, you pay prostitutes to LEAVE.” (from the film Four Brothers which I watched saturday night w/ KJ).

2. “You’ll always lose money chasing women, but you’ll never lose women chasing money.”

There you have it folks! Words to live by! Aren’t you glad you checked in? Don’t worry about that slimy, nauseous feeling, it’ll pass!

Hey, can someone buy this for me? I heard this record out at a martini bar recently, and I must make it mine!



Sometimes you’re lucky enough to realize that life is what happens in between breaths. It’s not the big things that stick with you, it’s the little moments of wonder that look innocuous on the surface that mean the most.

I got to see the Dartmouth College Gospel Choir perform today. It was among other things, just what I needed. I marveled at how beautiful the students looked in their youthful innocence, how fresh-faced and unmoved by life’s true troubles they seemed to be. The beautiful diaspora of ethnicities, the harmonious union of boy and girl voices, the unabashed joy at sharing their joy with us. The sensation of being in a packed auditorium with other celebrants, a private excitement wrapped in a public exuberance.

I love music, I’m particularly touched by great gospel music, and I was so certain that I would well up with unshed tears that I wear close to the surface when I hear gospel, that I brought a handkerchief. I am sentimental. I am super-sensitive. I am a sap. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. And no, I didn’t use the handkerchief. But I’m glad that I know myself well enough, and love myself fully enough to have brought it without fear.

Not Drunktastic


Sorry I’ve been off the grid the last few days. Work is getting busier by the week including new trips on the horizon (a return trip to Miami and a trip up to Toronto and Montreal). After the hustle of the last few weeks I was ready for a mini-road trip and headed down to Maryland where I met up with The Entreprenuer (TE) and The Attorney (TA). TE is a photography aficionado and TA is a “culture vulture” so we hit the Corcoran Musuem for the Annie Leibovitz exhibit: A Photographer’s Life.

The exhibit was really amazing. I loved her portraits of Jamie Foxx, Oprah, Colin Powell and a couple of shots of Serejevo and Rawanda the most. Wandering the museum with TE and TA was also a pleasure because we all felt comfortable going our own way so that we could linger where we wanted and get drawn into whatever compelled us. I loved how most of the photographs were black & white, but every now and then there’d be something in glorious color. Likewise most of the photographs were pretty large, but there were groupings of small prints that forced you to get intimate with the exhibit (wait, that didn’t come out right).  There was also an Ansel Adams exhibit in-house and that was interesting though I’m not a big fan of landscape photography.

We ended up acting a fool and having a good time which led us to drinks and bad, bad (but oooh so good) food at Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles in DC and a late night, raucous showing of Tyler Perry’s new movie: Why Did I Get Married? Now if you’ve ever been to an African American film, at an African American theatre, with a packed African American audience, I don’t need to tell you what went down. Let’s just say that everybody had a good time and thought that the characters on the screen could hear their individual comments.

Sunday, TA insisted on watching Inside Washington so I mustered up the energy to hit the workout room and put in some time on the treadmill to combat the previous evening’s fried goodness and preempt the afternoon’s revelry.  TE picked us up and we headed out to Linganore Winery where we met up with The Politician (TP) for the Jazz and Wine festival. And by festival I mean hundreds of people, in camp chairs with coolers full of crackers, cheese, grapes and summer sausage. It was great to see a diverse crowd (ethnicity, age, families, LGBT, groups of friends, etc) and to relax in the sunshine on a near perfect day listening to the David Bach Consort and wondering when exactly we became our parents? Wait, we’re not our parent’s yet but these two are.

Despite the wonderful nectar available (I highly recommend the Skipjack, TE’s favorite and the Sangria, TA’s favorite) no one was “Drunktastic” at least not in our group. But there were a few others who may have been. To include the 3 women next to us who drank at least 5 bottles of wine, the old white dude who kept hitting on all the older black women, the barefoot hippie teenagers twirling and kicking up dust, and the saxonphone player who kept coming out into the crowd to check out women. I joked at one point that there was only two ways that the day could be better, and one of them actually came to fruition. And thats all I’m gonna say about that!

Currently I

Currently I would like to: find the perfect motorcycle at the perfect price.

Currently I am listening to: Robin Thicke and Mary J. Blige.

Currently I am reading: High Society by Ben Elton.

Currently I am craving: Mexican Food. Scratch that…GOOD Mexican Food.

Currently I’d rather be: Snuggled up in bed with someone special, drinking coffee and reading the paper.

Currently I am worried about: Getting the rental unit finished for the new tenants before I have to leave for New Hampshire.

Currently I am glad: That I stuck with it and can now proclaim that I am a juggler! 3 Balls Baby! Wait, that didn’t come out right…

Currently I am trying to figure out: The perfect balance between what I want to do and what I HAVE to do, and maintaining a sustainable pace of life so I can be healthy, happy and productive. Anyone figured this out yet?

Currently I am reflecting on: What a great weekend I had at someone else’s million dollar brownstone in DC, with an amazing kitchen that I got to test out with my famous Rasta Pasta recipe and grilled asparagus and eggplant and chicken-apple sausage…with the most comfortable bed in the world and icy-cold A/C…that I don’t have to pay the mortgage on.

What are you doing currently?

California Love: Friends Near & Far


ryan ericka and sherri, originally uploaded by funchilde.

I’m back from California. It was just what the doctor ordered in terms of feeling more energized, focused and refreshed. I went out for work of course but had 10 days between the two events I needed to attend, I hit San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Jose and finished up in Palo Alto…and of course, there was that one day in Napa that shall never be mentioned again. You know your day can only get better when you wake up to the phrase “Yall still here?” (Thanks Blaine and Tawana!).

The work part was pretty great. We laughed, laughed, worked until we were so tired we were delirious and laughed some more. My favorite saying at the end of each day was “First round is on ME!” This is for my NY client and I love my colleagues more each time we meet, there are those I miss, but our mix of personalities and workstyles keeps everything moving fast and with alot of fun. You can’t beat that.

I was lucky enough to have gracious hosts and decadent hotels, but of the two I enjoyed the time I spent couch surfing the most. I stayed with Sherri (above right) for 5 days and got to see her beautiful home complete with orange, apricot, plum, and lemon trees (and something I’m forgettingooh, pears).

It was nice to feel domestic and pick lemons right off the heavy branches and make lemonade. No trips to Trader Joes/Harris Teeter/Von’s necessary. Likewise, mojitos with fresh mint from her garden were the perfect welcome. I enjoyed helping out with the fruit picking and clean up, loved cooking breakfast on the grill, we strolled through the Ventura Weekend Market and checked out the San Buenaventura Mission, read (Golf for Women Magazine), napped, read (Back Roads), listened to old school Erykah Badu and Jill Scott, and read some more. Oh, and watched a phenomenal movie (Half Nelson w/ Ryan Gosling).

We’re both foodies, so it was nice to indulge and be indulged-I grilled steaks and asparagus, portabella mushrooms and chicken-apple sausage. She made a crustless quiche, salsa from scratch and an amazing breaded Tilapia. Wine was a staple, a necessity. The weather in SoCal is so amazing that I worked outside on the back deck every day.

We had a BBQ that included Ryan and Ericka (above w/ Sherri) two of our Semester at Sea students who are absolutely adorable, gracious and wise beyond their years. I also got to hang with one of Sherri’s best friends and met this guy (one of my favorite OG’s of Hip Hop-note the capitalization).

I also got word that I’ll be going back to a project with one of my favorite clients, this time for a 9 month (oh lawd) stint. So this trip represents the slow closure of my immediate sexy travels, but I’m excited to be in one place for a while and work on my fitness and health goals, get to know some people better, and plan the next big phase/trip/thing. So, back to New Hampshire I go….!

I’m already researching Mexico, Thailand and an overland Europe to Africa Trip. And I am always game for another jaunt on the Green Tortoise. Whatever it is, I hope to keep making friends around the world because there’s nothing better than re-living your journeys with people who were with you.

More than anything I missed my nephew, and I can’t believe I’m admitting this…felt a touch of baby fever, not that I want to actually birth one, but the thought of nurturing and loving a little person crept up on me. But it might just have been gas from the asparagus. And while I’m happy to be home on the east coast, I can’t say that I missed either the humidity or the mosquitos.

So what’ve yall been up to?

Metaphors, Similes, Analogies & Comparisons


Photo: Somewhere In the Indian Ocean. One of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life, we had 3 nights in a row like this and Venus (the planet, not the tennis player) was very bright in the sky. The weather was warm and breezy…perfect.

Life As A House

Upon returning to the US 6 weeks ago, I attended my brother’s wedding reception then promptly slept for two weeks. I ate as many vegetables as possible and declined to turn my cell phone on. Since then I’ve slowly climbed out of my shell, and looked around only to delight in the fact that it is summer. And still early summer at that. Cookouts have been had, toes have been dipped, 18 holes of golf here and there, 9 holes there, tennis and hiking (okay, ONE hike).

I also really, really needed a break from everything. I am not good a slowing down, and when I do I usually stop altogether and I had to really allow myself to just sit for a good while and regroup. I have been going full out since last September, and though everything I’m doing seems (and generally is) fun, rewarding and productive, it is also exhausting sustaining that pace. So I’ve also spent a fair bit of time reading: Backpack, Woman: An Intimate Geography, Chocolate, Eleven Minutes, Fever Pitch, The Curios Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, and so on. I love when I get on reading kicks, one of my favorite ways to fall asleep. I’ve also put in a fair bit of movie viewing time since so much came out while we were gone, films: Blood Diamond, The Departed, Fantastic Four: Silver Surfer, Failure to Launch, etc.

In between that I’m trying to fix up one of the rentals that was just vacated and it struck me how similar the process of fixing up a house and tending to your life can be. I had to do an assessment, figure out what the priorities were, purchase the materials and get to work, slowly but surely, realizing it won’t all get done in a day. And so it is with me. I’m working on my physical health in much the same manner. Going to the gym, eating niblets of things that grow from the earth, avoiding things that end in -ookies, -ake, and -ied. I’ve lost a whopping 4lbs in 4 weeks, I’m convinced its my MIND. My summer goals are:

Workout: Health = #1 Priority

Work: Have Fun Everyday while delivering GREAT service

Learn to Juggle: I’m t-h-i-s close…

Buy a motorcycle. I got my license last summer, and again this depends on how long I’ll be in the USA.

Travel Plans: Depending on how one of the proposals I have in turns out, I may be in the country for a while. If it doesn’t pan out, I’ll probably head back to Latin America in October. If it does, it would be totally fun to work with this group for a stretch, then I’ll probably head to Latin America then Thailand in late Spring 2008. God willin’ and the creek don’t rise, as we say in the south.

Working 9 to 5

Well, not really, but I’m LOVING it. small and medium clients are rolling, proposals out to two others, and some possible international opportunities on the table. I keep thinking..”oh, after I do X I’ll settle down and get a real job…” but I have realized a) I HAVE a real job, and I love it and b) I don’t have to settle down if I don’t want to. Indeed my worst fear is that I’ll fall madly in love and desire to abandon my vagabond ways. I’ll be out in California for most of July. Part work, Part Play. I’m hoping for some quality time with my colleagues, some Napa Valley nectar, some exercise and to hang out with some Semester @ Sea folks. I’ve already hit DC, New York, Chicago and Indiannapolis since I’ve been back (for work), so I guess I’m back in the saddle.

Friday Night Lights

I learned a couple of years ago that I don’t do Friday night dates well, especially first dates or “big” dates. I mean if you have a good friday that means you’ve hit the gym, gone to work, run errands (dry cleaner’s, liquor store-what?), maybe pampered yourself a bit (mani/pedi?) and then to go on a date at 7 or 8 pm? Not me, I am too used to being in the bed by 10:30pm. By the time you add up dinner and a movie its damn near midnight! And goodness forbid if there’s some potential for hanky panky…I’m TIRED. No wonder I’m single, call me on Saturday.

I also had a Friday night recently where I dropped in on not one, not two, but THREE different events, and they couldn’t have been more different. A neighborhood block party, a margarita dinner and a bachelorette party with a Pole Dancing instructor. Yeah, you read that right. I thought it was cute but being more of a “beer and darts” kind of girl, I watched for a little while then escaped to return to the block party. whew. that was close.

Like Water for Chocolate

One of the things I missed about life on a ship is access to a kitchen. Since I’ve been back I’ve been on a culinary run. My family loves my Rasta Pasta and I’ve even got them digging whole wheat pasta! My nephew and I have been living it up and have added a Monkey Cake (complete w/ a banana) and homemade donuts for Father’s Day to his growing list of culinary masterpieces. My favorites so far have been the fish tacos and the lamb gyros, both of which were new attempts for me.

My Mom made a Crab Crusted Steak one night, and my dad pulled all the stops out on a Crab Boil so, the fact that I’ve lost 4lbs is starting to sound like a pretty amazing feat no?

Tell me how you are doing and what your summer goals are in the comments or leave a link to your blog. Cause I’m nosey like that.

Cape Town, So. Africa: A Day To Remember Pt. II


I love this photo, not that it is well shot, but the context. The poster in the back is rather inflammatory without seeing the whole thing. It’s a beer ad that says basically “I hate being white because people assume I’m a racist…” but goes on to point out that South Africans come in all shades and unity trumps ignorance. Add to the foreground this picture of us (5 Americans – 1 African American (me), 1 Bi raciacial (black & italian), 1 Mexican American, and 2 Caucasian American) and I guess this poster could really be almost anywhere in terms of the issues that most countries are dealing with around race. The beautiful thing is that across the table from us are 5 South Africans and I like the symbolism that the table represents, we’re all reaching out across a divide to understand each other better.

After church w/ the Archbishop and crew, I hightailed it back to the ship to change clothes and meet up with Samuel, Lydia, Ammy (ah-me) & Danny to take an independent Township tour. Samuel has friends of friends who hooked us up with Gerald, a local media personality and Gerald gave us a peek inside of his world. No tour buses, no staring at people from behind panes of glass, no group ogling of the locals, we were going to get into the township and look people in the eye, connect, communicate…or so I hoped.

I should have known the day would disintegrate into a comedy of errors when Gerald rolls up to pick up the 5 of us in a 2 door BMW convertible. We were all like “no way, we’re not going to ride through a township in a Beemer are we?” but we packed in like sardines and chipped in to gas up the car and off we went. The Townships are hard to describe. they are like large ghettos with shacks, few running water sources, high population density, lots of trash blowing about, anything that can be used in some way is put to work, people, materials, ideas. But that would only be 1/2 of the picture. Most of the people in the townships are educated, there are lots of entreprenuerial pursuits being undertaken and there are relative middle class folks as well, some sections are nicer than others in terms of building materials, relative amounts of land per house, etc. The townships are a direct result of the impacts and residue of Apartheid, the unequal distribution of land, the stolen resources…it all sounds too familiar.

Gerald first took us out to Khayelitsha township (Shameka, I liked your vote for Soweto, but we never made it out there!), the largest township in Cape Town with something like 1.4 million people living in a fairly small area. We were warned not to go to townships on our own and I’ll admit that I questioned the sanity of our decision to go even with a guide, but Gerald parked and ushered us into a shabeen (local bar) called Morgan’s Place, and my fears melted away. People were either super friendly to us or paid us no attention. For the rest of the day I would never sense animosity, malicious intent, or even an ounce of ill will toward us. On the contrary we were turning down beers from the locals, playing a game called “waterfall” that I won’t discuss right now (smile) and talking all over each other “what languages do you speak? were you born in cape town? where is your family? why do you want to come to America?” and answering their questions “yes America has similar race problems, but I can live, work and play anywhere I want, yes I like hip hop music, no I am not married and I don’t have kids”

We were having such a good time in the little tin bar, snapping pictures, writing down propper spellings of our names, getting e-mail addresses and learning how to say hi in 3 different African languages, that when Gerald said it was time to go, we protested noisily, but he assured us that more and better were waiting. He took us to his home which was very obviously upper middle class and we finally got to joke him about his modeling career (hair products, corn flakes, clothes) and got to see some of the ads he has been in. Even more heartwarming were the 2 teenagers that were at his house, under the watchful eye of a neighbor, doing their homework in a clean, quiet space. I loved it. We got to see his bachelor pad, pics of his family and hit the bathroom before we tucked ourselves into the BMW again. He dropped the top and the afternoon sun, coupled with the breeze, the music (kwaito), the vibe and the continual realization that “Hey Man, we’re in South Africa!” overwhelmed me with what I can only describe as joy. We were all feeling it as people waved to us, we waved back, the music blasting with table mountain and the blue sky as backdrops.

Next we headed to Nyanga township for the best braai (think bbq) I’ve ever had. I’m not kidding. Maphindi’s is a butchery/restaurant and all the meat is fresh and seasoned and grilled/cooked to perfection. I was a little skeptical when we first sat down at a stainless steel table with nothing but a stack of napkins and a loaf of white bread (what?!), but when the meat came out (and it was ALL meat, no veggies, no potatoes, nothing but meat), we were like a pack of wild hyenas who hadn’t eaten in weeks! The meat was cleaned from the bones by our teeth and hands, the loaf of bread was reduced to a demolished plastic bag and some random crumbs. Little did we know that Gerald had called the owner and he was making his way towards us. Khaya and his family own Maphindi’s and a couple of other local businesses. He was funny, handsome and gracious as he gave us a full tour of the facility, including the expansion they’ve almost completed, the banquet rooms and finally the rooftop where we could see the township, the airport tower and the power plant as well as kids playing soccer on the schoolyard. The whole neighborhood was buzzing with energy and activity, Maphindi’s doesn’t serve or allow alcohol on premises so that the restaurant can be family friendly and I found myself falling a little bit in lurve with the idea of marrying a South African entreprenuer with a family business…but alas, Khaya is happily married and I am happily unmarried, so we kissed on the cheeks, hugged a bit too long and said our goodbyes.

At this point it was about 3pm and I thought Gerald would probably be ready to get rid of us and take us back to the ship, but we drove around for a while looking at the townships, the cityscape, the types of businesses and services that were around. Finally we slowed a bit and turned a corner into what looked to be the biggest block party I’ve ever seen. Out of nowhere there were more than 4,000 people, cars, dogs, beer bottles, stereos and did I mention PEOPLE!

We parked the car, which was a miracle in itself, and grabbed stickers, pens and pencils to give to the kids, stuffed some rand (so. african money) into our pockets and locked everything in the trunk before joining in the revelry. We made our way to a cargo container which doubled as a “brew thru” — a place where you could purchase beverages, we picked up Savanna Cider and made our way into the thick of things where we danced for almost 4 hours non-stop. The music was AMAZING, Kwaito is so. african hip hop with jazz and house infused and reminds me of early hip hop (which i love) and international house music (which i like a lot). Gerald taught us a sexy trick where you open one beer bottle with another and we were all thinking about who we could impress with such useful knowledge!

We met up with Nanna (a doctor from Ghana) and his girlfriend Maria (from Namibia) and all 4000 pairs of eyes were on them almost all day as they were a stunning couple with a knack for dancing suggestively. Our group swelled to about 12, but we kept mixing and mingling with local 20 and 30 somethings, dancing with anyone who would subject themselves to our enthusiastic appreciation of the DJ.

We shared beer, wine and cider with other visitors from the UK, Germany and France, dodged the local boy’s (and girl’s) attempts at kisses, and went to the bathroom 3 at a time because, hey…that’s just what they do here. And I don’t mean 3 people you know at a time, I mean you go in and 2 other women would push in too. At 8pm the DJ shut down so he could take a nap before he had to spin at a club downtown that evening so the party was over whether we wanted it to be or not.

We got quiet and somber on the way back to the ship, coming off of a natural high, knowing that a day like this would happen only so many times even in the most blessed life, believing that there was some magic to the particular mix of people that shared the experience, and knowing that our time in Cape Town would dwindle fast. All of this served to make us teary-eyed. At the dock, we couldn’t let go of the day (or Gerald) and stood around for another 45 minutes re-hashing the day as if we hadn’t all been there together. Ammy and Lydia cried so much they got the hiccups. I just tried to soak it all up, breathe it all in, and thank God for the chance to see, touch, taste, smell and feel, to be overwhelmed with sensation, overtaken by joy and overcome with gratitude. It really was one of the top 5 best days of my life.


Puerto Rico: Guess Who Got a Tattoo?


I wish I could tell you that I slept in today, but I didn’t. Not a whole lot of time for that and who wants to sleep in when there’s a whole U.S. territory to see? Shayla, (another one of my staff colleagues) and I hit the streets of San Juan early. very early. So early that nothing was open except for the jewelry stores and the restaurants serving breakfast. She was on a mission to track down a tattoo parlor or two, and get some comparison prices for a small piece she wanted done. This would be her first tattoo and she was nervous. I don’t know her well, but she seems really similar to me in that she’s pretty conservative about that kind of thing. I like the idea of tattoos, on someone else, but have never seriously considered getting one myself. But I was curious and intrigued, so I went with her for moral support.

We spent the morning wandering around Old San Juan and the streets reminded me of San Miguel de Allende (Mexico) in some places with their narrow access and brightly painted buildings. It was a nice breezy morning and we just strolled which I love. We dipped into Cafe Mallorca, where they are known to have an amazing breakfast, but to conserve money, we ate breakfast on the ship (free!) and picked up some homemade macaroons to sample while we checked things out (worth the 30,000 calories!). We got bamboozled into checking out some jewelry and next thing I know, I had whipped out my credit card and so had she. I keep justifying these purchases as “gifts” but if yall don’t get any “gifts” when I get back, yall know the deal!

While waiting for the tattoo parlors to open we found a music store (Jah Rastafari) and I was all excited that I could pick up some Puertorequeno tunes, alas…they sold only Bob Marley and Marley-esque tuneage. BUT we did meet Rashonda who is an SAS alumni. She did the spring voyage last year and loved PR so much that after returning home and graduating, she packed up and moved down to PR last August! How cool is that? She was great and gave us a recommendation for lunch, but had no help for me regarding my music crisis. We found two tattoo parlors for Shayla and she got quotes from both of them. I liked the guys (pictured above), but wouldn’t trust them with putting ink on my body.

We decided to mull her options over lunch at Cafe Puerto Rico. I know, cheesey name, but the food was oh, so, good. After mulling the menu, and chatting up the cutie-pie bartender/owner and his brother while he made us some noon-time cocktails…I decided on arroz con camarones, plantanas (yellow rice with saute’d shrimp, plantains) and…red beans (good thing I have my own room, no?). They also made their own salsa picante (hot sauce) from scratch and it worth the sweat beading up on my forehead, they couldn’t give me the recipe though b/c they said their father made it, and they had no idea what was in it!

After lunch we stumbled across this little store (Hecho a Mano) where we spent a small fortune in jewelry and music, a lot of the students had found it too after word got out about the great prices and the place was packed but I picked up two CDs that I am totally in lurve with now and have on constant rotation (Shayla is rolling her eyes). Having made her decision (not the guys pictured above), I accompanied Shayla to the tattoo parlor of her choice and stood-by while she did all the paperwork and got all of the info and warnings.

It took about 20 minutes (17 of which I slept through) and I waited for her in the parlor lobby. The artwork came out beautifully. She hugged her tattoo artist as if she was glad to still be alive and we boogied out of there to a pharmacy so she could get the recommended ointment to take care of her new bodyart. We also stocked up on drinks and snacks, etc for the ship (we leave tomorrow!).

I also found these creepy things which are the worst souvenir idea I’ve ever seen! We spied some old dudes throwing down playing dominoes near the park and stopped to soak up their good time. The last stop of the day: booking our indie (independent) trip to El Yunque rainforest! A lot of people went yesterday with groups but we decided it would be more fun with less people so we cabbed (best cab ever) it over to the Ritz Carlton’s tour desk and hooked up a tour for the next morning. I’m still coming to grips with traveling in a group, but I realized I’d rather travel this way than not at all, so I’m keeping my attitude and perspective in check. All of which are easier to do because I genuinely lurve the majority of the people I’ve met.

Other highlights: Dusting off my rusty spanish and impressing others (and myself) with my ability to get around/get what I needed. I’m an international woman of mystery!

My latest post is up over at Gadling! Our talented team over there is growing. We’d love your comments!