pinche chilangos

Subway system in Pino Suarez station


‘Pinche Chilangos!’ ..I moaned!

…The truth is my spanish is shit! It is utter garbage! While it is not entirely non-existent, it is just plain and simply shitty! However, three hours into arriving in one of the most populated cities in the world, I experienced a linguistic breakthrough albeit catalysed by an unfortunate event.

No Mames!”… I screamed frantically grabbing my pockets, eyes bulging in a blend horror and angst. …”Pinche Chilangos! No Mames, Guey! “ I continued and sealed the curse!

Picture the dumbfounded visages in that train car, with mine the most distinct in hue. On one hand, there were the faces shocked at how Chilango-like the accent in my curses’ tongue had pierced the air and on the other, there was my face mourning the loss of an extension of my ‘SELF’. I had been liberated from my precious iPhone.


Trouador playing mexican classics !

Street Tacos in Juanacatlan metro

The irony of it all is that from the moment I descended into the subway underground, on my way to Zocalo, I acknowledged to myself that the conditions were prime and perfect for anybody to be pick pocketed, especially me, the eager visitor whose perceptions were tuned in to all the novelties, therefore distracted. It was about 4 pm and the trains were pouring over at every station. I in fact had a nerdy statistics hard-on when I thought to myself how interesting it would be if the percentage of people with communicable illnesses was almost equal to the number of occupational pickpockets in every train car at any given time. And how shitty it would be to catch the flu from the same person that picks your pocket. I even chuckled when I thought that a foreigner such as myself must have been like a game of Pokemon GO for a pickpocket.


CDMX subway train station

For as long as I incubated my medley of thoughts, I exercised extra caution. Sometimes a bit too dramatic as I changed trains clutching desperately at my pockets and hugging worrisomely at my backpack. I thought of BBC’s, Conor Woodman’s SCAM CITY; a television serious founded on unearthing the most prevalent of scams in popular tourist destinations. Predictably, pick pocketing reigns supreme in swindle kingdom. To accompany those thoughts, my eyes darted back and forth endeavoring to savor the sight of a hand in action.

Suddenly, there was some unnecessary aggressive shoving and pushing at the Pino Suarez subway station while boarding the blue line to Zocalo. I raised my hands in the air, gesturing my American goodwill in the peaceful transcendence into every and all spaces as my precious iPhone ascended from my pockets. How stupid was that!  Word of advise, if a situation looks like a pig, its probably a pig. I knew what was happening but somehow I convinced myself that I had a bias worth muting.  I even looked at the bitch that did it in the eye as she retreated from boarding the train, thinking, yeah good idea, this is a mess! It happened so fast! It infuriated me! I sneezed! It was poetic! And now I sit with a sense of liberation that has been long estranged from my ‘SELF’.

Luiz at a Taco stand in La Condesa

A sense of liberation that was bought by a communion of mezcal and tacos coupled with an audit of pequeña hardships and pequeña blessings of my iPhone-less state.  I took out a piece of paper and said to myself, “well, I guess now I’ve got to write shit down. ” Undoubtedly, in the 24 hours that have passed, I have enjoyed looking at the different aspects of my personality through my handwriting. I have scribbled a lot of meaningful and meaningless things. I have scribbled on receipts, on the back of my hand and I think I almost scribbled on a spare tortilla at a taco stand. I stopped myself short after considering foldability. 


Masa into Tortillas

Not having a cellphone means that I had been stripped off my Uber superpowers. Now I am forced to power up my shitty Spanish and haggle with drivers in a taxi industry that is riddled with unregulated operators. On the upside, I cannot hide behind my Black Mirror for the next 8 or so days. And I have to be cognizant of directions, time and my surroundings in general. There is no precision to my sense of direction or time at the moment and there need not be. I am neither here nor there and the time is not now. I can best sum up my spatial disposition as an approximate actuality. For example, I am writing this from a taco stand in La Condesa.  3 tacos in with 2 left to go. I am approximately 150 pesos ( my willingness to pay as a function of my perceived distance )  by taxi to my next destination: Somewhere in Polanco where I intend to continue illuminating the night  with La Comida y las Bebidas. The food and the drinks: The chief of all my reasons to visit Mexico this time around.

The inconvenience of not having a phone means that I am liberated form the persuasions of the barrage of notifications I suffer on an hourly basis. Not having a phone means that my first instinct is to experience and reflect rather than capture and share.

Pinche Chilangos, Gracias!!



the Dollar Menu

…and a couple of cents give or take.

It’s not just wishful thinking. Someday, I’ll giving Anthony Bourdain and his Parts Unknown a run for their money. Credit to that is the fact that, akin to Mr. Bourdain’s travel exploits, I too have become a self proclaimed connoisseur (of sorts) of great but cheap eats in the course of my comings and goings.

Eating is the easy part. Try grabbing a hearty meal for under One US dollar. The dollar meal in Africa today is becoming increasingly elusive as food prices continue to soar. By my own admittance, the endeavor of finding this meal requires no mastery. Such meals are simply a function of the compositions of the meal itself and the location. Therefore, if you don’t mind sometimes sharing dining space with things that crawl or if you can look past the luxury of eating while sitting down (for example), you could turn an empty stomach into an nourished one a dollar later.

Dollar meals shouldn’t always constitute an evocation of the ‘big M’ and its mc nuggets, mc doubles etc.

Here is an example of my culinary adventures with sub-dollar meals.

Chapati-Matumbo na Mchicha

Chapati-Cow Intestines with Spinach

Dollar Menu: Chapati, Mchicha na Matumbo

Chapati, Mchicha na Matumbo

Price: 90.00 Kshs   0.98 Dollars

Location: Likoni-Mombasa, Kenya

In a little wooden shack in Likoni, right after you get off the ferry, a man endlessly rolls fist size balls of dough into flat disks; mechanically. There is half a meter stack of cooked chapatis on his right and a charcoal stove glowing in the dimly lit cooking area right in front of him.

Samaki Mkavu, Chapati na Maji ya Maembe

Fried fish, Chapati with Mango Juice

Dollar Menu: Samaki Mkavu, Chapati na Maji ya Maemba

Samaki Mkavu, Chapati na Maji ya Maemba (Fried Fish, Chapati and Mango Juice)

Price: 100 Kshs   1.09 Dollars

Location: Lamu, Kenya

If Kiswahili words meant nothing, one would still find endless strings of poetry in the effortlessly melodious accents of the patrons of Hamza’s little restaurant tucked away in the paved shoulder to shoulder streets in the maze that is Lamu town.

Ugali, Nyama

Maize Polenta with Beef

Dollar Menu : Ugali Nyama (  Maize Polenta  with Beef )

Ugali, Nyama ( Maize Polenta with Beef )

Price: 1500 Tshs   0.83 Dollars

Location: Kigamboni-Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

I was half kidding when I requested, even demanded, that I get an extra piece of meat. My excuse was that great things come in threes. And how was it that I had ordered Ugali with beef, yet my plate had more beans than meat. She pointed out the extra sardines and vegetables that come with the meal but my smile brightened when a third piece of meat dropped into my plate splashing delicious beef stew onto the sides of the partitioned silver plate.

Urojo na Chapati

Urojo (mixed vegetable, meat and egg soup) with Chapati



Price: 1800 Tshs   1.00 Dollars

Location: Zanzibar, Tanzania

I haven’t the slightest clue as to what my meal constituted in its entirety. On one hand, I had a chapati rolled like a scroll. On the other, my spoon was pointed downwards into a concoction of a potato, a hard boiled egg…etc.


I stand accused of eating, praying and loving. Perhaps you yourself have thought of my travels and likened them to that very tale of a lonesome Elizabeth Gilbert.  I claim neither innocence nor guilt as I am still faced with six more months of deliberations with roads, time, people and places unbeknownst to me.

Hotel Sardine

DSC_0066Yahya spoke with authority when he ordered his crew to draw in the boat in preparation for departure.  “leta boti twende tuwatege dagaa!!” (Bring the boat, lets go trap the Sardines) His sentences were delivered succinctly with a cadence much like the natives of the northern town of Tanga. Every so often, he rubbed his droopy, bloodshot eyes: Wrought with exhaustion. He staggered barefooted in the ankle high waters of the receding shoreline, wavering in obedience. There was a certain permanence to the grin on his face. And it exuded a blended air of optimism and worry when I asked him what he thought the odds were of bringing in a big catch the next morning. With his gaze still fixated on the dead fish market on the opposite side of the channel, he simply said, ” Twende tuwatege Dagaa” -Let us go catch some sardines. DSC_0093

DSC_0088The open Indian ocean welcomed the dusk in a heightened dance of waves as the sun sunk behind a pair of towering silhouetted Dar es Salaam skyscrapers. Yahya’s crew of six fisherman strolled in. They saluted each and rolled up their pants to avoid getting wet as they climbed into the boat. For them, it was business as usual. Every day, right before dusk, they gather by the boat before heading out to fish from whence they return at sunrise to sell their luck at the fish market that comes alive bustling with schools of fishermen, swarms of fishmongers and fleets of fishing boats that crush into each other in a rush hour’s frenzy. That morning, I visited Mzizima fish market and shores at Kigamboni all the while reminiscing on a time that has long gone when I gifted a friend the dread of rocking small boat and the smell of a thousand sardines for her birthday.  As I skipped along the shores dodging dead fish and ducking anchor lines I felt a mystic exhortation to check into one of these boats for the night.DSC_0083 DSC_0058

A couple of handshakes later I had reserved my spot as an extra free hand and guest on Yahya’s boat without having personally met the man. No currency changed hands, but I gave my assurance that my strength can prevail the night. I rushed across town to my hotel room in Manzese on Shekilango Rd to check out. Rona the caretaker was kind enough to safeguard my belongings on the guarantee that I would check in for one more night once I returned.DSC_0243 DSC_0105DSC_0146DSC_0118

The boat rammed the waves as it cut through the water heading for deeper waters. On deck, eight men (including myself) swayed as violently as the boat did. Yahya sat at the back of the boat steering with right hand and tapping a rhythm on the transom with his left hand. His eyes were glued into the disappearing horizon as darkness crept in.

I thoroughly enjoyed the rocking of the boat albeit it being hair raising. I saw it as a welcomed difference from the bouncing on the back seats of worn down buses with aging shock absorbers on bumpy roads. The boat rocked violently but smoothly. It was the kind of rocking that was however, not for the wish-washy kind of person. Ali, one of the crew members had crawled to an empty spot in front of me holding a black plastic bag. He proceeded to warn me that at any moment, a big wave could clean out the insides of the boat. Smiling, he bent his torso over the side of the boat,  reached out his right hand into the ocean and emerged a moment later gesturing that he had clean hands. ” Do you want some ukoko? ” ” Do you want some dagaa?” I reached over the boat to wash my hands in the salty water. It was pitch black. The night had fallen.

Sardine fishing is apparently not rocket science.  As Yahya explained, all the fishermen come out to sea armed with floodlights and generators. Once they find a suitable and favorable spot, they drop their anchors and turn on the floodlights directing their beams downwards into the water. From our boat, one could count tens and tens of these floodlights scattered like low lying stars on the water.  They, the fishermen, then wait until around two in the morning to cast their nets. A couple of hours later they repeat the same process again.DSC_0053 DSC_0049 DSC_0009

It was about eight o’clock when we dropped our anchor and  turned on the generator to power the floodlights. Conversations marred by raucous blaring of the generator ensued. We talked about everything under the stars. From politics, to the state of the rivalry of Tanzania’s premier league teams. Most notably the rivalry between Simba FC and Yanga FC. When the chattering drowned to the lulling of the wavy sea, we took turns sleeping on the gigantic net that was piled up. I have never known a sleep so deep.DSC_0144 DSC_0170 DSC_0184

DSC_0199 DSC_0250 DSC_0264At two o’clock, it was time to cast the net. Like clockwork, the fishermen went to work and I availed myself. When nets needed hauling, I was there. When a rope needed tagging, I was surely there as well.  The fishermen worked with uninhibited grace.





Welcome to Paradise

Nov 19th-25th

I remember his face eternalized in genuine concern guised in fear. I was standing on the edge and inching further: Trading solid rock for air. The thrill of a free fall was almost tangible right there at point Imet Gogo with an elevation of 3940 m ( 12,927 ft).

Semien mountains

Semien mountains

DSC_0437Perhaps he was also stupefied by the fact that I had left him in the dust in a sudden burst of energetic enthusiasm that was undoubtedly fueled by the revelation of an exhilarating landscape in a full 360 degree panorama. An enigmatic landscape reminiscent of the Arizonian grand canyon with peaks that loomed and haunted the horizon in the glare of the sun.

Young sheep herding boys in Semien mountains.

Young sheep herding boys in Semien mountains.

Sunset over Gich village in Semien mountains, Ethiopia

Sunset over Gich village in Semien mountains, Ethiopia


From the myriads of waterfalls to the escarpments that unfolded and dropped steeply. From the villages that clustered to the livestock that peppered. From the pitchy clamoring of sheep herding boys that reverberated from within the dense patches of forest to the music from their flutes that soared from the meadows below. From the sinuous rivers that carved out the valleys and the meadows to the serpentine footpaths that connected things there and here, the view was splendid. Like a montage of a thousand postcards.

Gelada monkeys in Semien mountains

Gelada monkeys in Semien mountains

DSC_0153Perhaps this is what they (new acquaintances in Addis Ababa) meant when they said: Welcome to Paradise. But few of those would be able to comprehend my envy for the little moving dots in the distance. I am envious of their lives amidst the incessant excitements of mountains such as the Semien mountains.


Semien mountains

Semien mountains

Welia Ibex in Semien mountains

Welia Ibex in Semien mountains

By the middle of the third morning trekking in the Semien mountains, me and my guide had not been able to communicate verbally. Not at all. He spoke no English and my tinish (little) Amharic was contextually handicapped. Nevertheless, we had successfully trekked 69 km. All along we had resorted to gesticulations when the desire to communicate arose. For the most part, we either walked side by side or traded the lead position. When stopped to rest, he would gesture for me to follow him which I did. He would then lead me to a look-out and after pointing in the he would say; Abyssinia Konjo. (Ethiopia is Beautiful)

At point Imet Gogo,  as I stood on the edge, I raised my straightened arms to my sides with my open palms facing downwards. I yelled out, ” Abyssinia Konjo !! ”  I quickly turned, stumbled in a momentary loss of balance, and was met with a look from my scout that was disapproving of my gesture of flight. He patted his stomach and pointed at me. DSC_0313 DSC_0359


All I had had to eat the previous day was a small can of tuna and a piece of bread that I dipped in a generous amount of peanut butter. That morning, I had nothing to eat. Khalid had not eaten any of the food that I shared with him on the first day. I on the other hand had unknowingly eaten most of my ration within half a day of hiking.He reached into his bag and handed me a dry piece of bread that I had shared with him on the first day.


DSC_0400On the fourth day, we sat atop mount Bwahit, the third highest peak in Ethiopia (14,557 ft), in unbounded gaiety. Patches of freshly fallen snow and an Ethiopian man with a basket full of bottled ‘Dashen’ beer, Pepsi and clay figurines surrounded us. The Ethiopian man was organizing his wares, in readiness for a swarm of German tourists that was making its way to the peak miles behind. As he went about his business he cordially chatted with my scout who was pointing out Ras Dashen, the highest peak in Ethiopia (and the Semien mountains) with his riffle. He then pointed to a village in the distance that was hard to make out and gestured that that is where he lived.


It took us two more days to hike out of the mountains and back to Debark.






Great Distances

Great Distances: Sudan

Khartoum Skyline: sunset over the blue Nile.

Khartoum Skyline: sunset over the blue Nile.

David Husselhoff,

This movie in which you, the Hoff, are hunting a ginormous snake, has to be metaphor for something. Why else would every soul on this bus crane their neck towards the front and middle of the bus? Why are they glued to the edges of their seats attentively watching when most if not all find the french voice overs incomprehensible? I, on the other hand have preoccupied myself with Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. That, I am sure is loaded with metaphors. On my third read on this journey (since September), I wander between the lines. Every so often, I think about Santiago’s diligent pursuit of his fish and stare into the Sudanese landscape beyond my neighbor’s seat.

A section of Souq Arabi ( Arabi Market )in Khartoum

A section of Souq Arabi ( Arabi Market )in Khartoum


The bus tout walks around the bus with an open bucket of water in which a block of ice is floating. He dips a stainless steel cup inside and passes it to passengers as he makes his way down the bus. One by one, the travelers quench their thirsts from that one cup. When the cup reaches seat number 22, I hesitate. But I feel obliged.

My neighbor, like most people I have come to travel alongside, is brimming with awe and curiosity for me. In the times when language had not been a dividing factor, such curiosities evolved into intense interest when the purpose of my travels was brought to light. I am also curious of my neighbor. I am eager for an audience to the tale of the scar that cuts diagonally across his chin. I wander what head of hair hides behind the complex aggregation of rolled cloth that is his turban. For what reason is this man on seat number twenty one on a Saturday morning to Khartoum? I am equally as curious about the land that is stringing by past the slightly drawn velvet and golden drapes, and through the sandy glass window.

The tout walks down the aisle of the bus, stops at the middle, points an aerosol can to the central air vent on the roof where he sprays in a zigzag fashion horizontally and diagonally; generously. A pungent lavender aroma suffocates the bus.

We are on a bus ride from Gedaaref to Khartoum. In my current travels, I draw parallels of my own experience on this continent to that of Santiago and his big fish. I have begun to see my fare share of sharks. Before I embarked on this journey I knew that this fishing saga would be riddled with episodes of shark attacks. And that they would come in all shapes and sizes. None of the sharks have demanded nor claimed more than a frowning hour from me. There have been a couple of sickness sharks, con sharks, fatigue sharks, bribe sharks, T.I.A (This Is Africa ) sharks and a borderisclosed shark to name a few. Occasionally, a whythehellImIdoingthis shark rears its fin.

The bus has long rolled out of Gedaaref where I arrived in the twilight and left in the light of an absent sun the next morning. My living quarters for the night were severely overpriced for what they were. Four walls (almost) and three beds.

Lodging in Khartoum.

Lodging in Khartoum.

You can’t make up, the make up of some of the places that I have put myself up for the night on this journey. A paper thin pillow was coupled with a three by five foot mattress that matched the pillow’s physique. ” Where are all the fat ones?” I thought to myself as I let my bag drop from my shoulders in relief.” They must not feed pillows and mattresses in this -here- town.” As if things were not yet interesting enough, the mattress was bare. Only a thin leopard print blanket was provided in the name of covers. Imagine that: Me sleeping on a leopard print blanket with my feet dangling from the bottom end of the bed. A fan set to speed five (highest setting) violently spun violently above my head. With it a nauseating stench laced with dust circulated the room but not strong enough to hinder the sedating efforts of the fan’s ambient roar and cool convectional breezes. I succumbed to the will of both Hypnos and Morpheus. I was exhausted

A cafe/restaurant in the Khartoum

A cafe/restaurant in the Khartoum

My version of riding into the sunsets has involved long bus rides that commenced before the rebirth of the sun and ended when it was extinguished in westerly hills and plains. Rides that lasted the lives of the roads from one minuscule circle on a map denoting a town to another. Those forty five days I spent in the Ethiopia are characterized with adventures whose certainties were no more that the chance of rains in the African Sahara where I am bound. How can you not romanticize travel?

It might be adequate to say that I was in the business of connecting the dots in those forty five days that I spent in Ethiopia. I endured long travels, crisscrossing from one town to another. Only the ancient city of Harar, the depths of the Omo Valley and the Bale mountains eluded the purposeful padding of my dusty feet.On Thursday morning, I left Addis Ababa for the second time. Exactly two weeks before, I was armed with a south Sudanese visa as I set off west words on a two day trip from Addis Ababa to Gambela ( 80km from the south sudanese border town of Akobo where I had hoped to gain entry into south Sudan). My journey ended in both misery and futility after being denied entry a couple of times due to increasing insecurity due to conflict.DSC_0062-2


Salaam Aleikum?”

Wa’aleikum Salaam”



Mia Mia?”

Mia Mia!!”

He introduces himself as Said after we exchange our salutations. His facial features are pleasantly rounded to match his stature. He strokes his pot-belly with his right hand unknowingly bringing my attention to his t-shirt which reads, Capitalism- the taking of money from stupid people.’ The words are warped under the protrusion of his belly. His cheeks collapse inwards as he drags on his cigarette. Hissing.

There is Nile, blue Nile. One, two, three, four building nice. “ He mutters as he points with his index and middle finger still holding onto his half burnt cigarette.

What you do in Khartoum?”

Zaynab's chai stand.

Zaynab, an Ethiopian immigrant in Khartoum, runs a tea/coffee stand in Souq Arabi, Khartoum.

Nile fishing.

Young men fishing in the Blue Nile


……to be continued.

The Snows of Kilimanjaro

With no relief in sight from the overhead sun, we sat exposed, busy brushing our teeth in the dusty Longido plains, demurely conscious of the squeaking as the frayed medicinal sticks rubbed against our teeth. More than half an hour had passed without an utterance between us when he pointed with the toothbrush-stick and said, “Oldonyo Oibor.”

Then, climbing mount Kilimanjaro was as wild a dream as Hemingway’s Harry being lifted to the summit in a plane with hyenas laughing in the background in the Snows of Kilimanjaro. Then, I could only trace my journey to the summit of the great white mountain with my eyes. Up the Maasai elder’s outstretched pointing arm to the peak and down one of the slopes.

Almost five years have expired since. And just when I was inclined to believe that the wells in my eyes had seen the last of their wet days, I broke down as I clambered towards Uhuru Peak at the summit of Oldoinyo Oibor. Right under the sign board that declared Africa’s highest point as the world’s highest free standing mountain, I tebowed: Gloriously collapsed onto one knee, whimpered in staccato as I fought my man tears and trembled with shoulders slightly shrugging as I suppressed the emo floodgates. I almost wept in joy. By the graces of the powers that be and that forces that will, on the ninth sunrise after basking atop mt. Kenya at point Lenana, I had conquered yet another mountain. In blissful awe, I surrendered to Kilimanjaro, tearfully. It was 6:00am sharp, Sunday, October 19th 2014.


Uhuru Peak on Kibo

At the summit on Kibo overlooking Mawenzi

At the summit on Kibo overlooking Mawenzi


That Tuesday morning, as the Nairobi day shift was getting into the city, I was departing for Moshi, Tanzania via the Terekea border, preoccupied with attending to a certain bucket-list item. I wanted to do it as I had done in the Kenyan highlands: Arrive blind, book a room, find a guide, buy my own food, prepare my own meals, carry my own bags and trek up the mountain frugally, quickly and efficiently. All things considered, in my customary suit and tie.


My last visit to Tanzania in 2012 robbed me off of a new years celebration and eight supplemental days confined within the walls of an airport prison. It was a struggle. This time around, the only difficulty during my passage was brought about by an anonymous person or persons that repeatedly passed gas in the overcrowded van. Imagine boiling eggs in a geyser; double jeopardy.

I arrived in Moshi at midday and before long I was chowing down on a Mshikaki while sitting on a curb on the main street with my eyes darting around trying to spot some ‘catchers’.

In East Africa, most of the small independent tour companies rely on business from tourists who arrive with no prior bookings. The catcher’s job is to run these tourists down and sell them tour packages at relatively lower prices. He is a concierge of sorts and works on commission and tips.

Before long, I had identified a duo that had been running up and down the street after safari-hat wearing tourists. The first, Alex, was a Swahili man from the coastal town of Tanga. He was the brains. With a Tattoo that read ‘ Fcuk’ on the left arm and another ‘Mobb Deep’ on the right arm, Zingu was clearly the muscle and the bad cop. I approached them.

“Inakuwaje Masela?”

“Ras, Baridi, Kichaa wangu.” Zingu replies

“Ninacho Kitu flani! Laki nne. Nami ningependa kutimiza ndoto ya kufika kule juu. Kisela yaani. Kinyamwezi.” 

” How’s it going? “

” Ras, its cool my man. ” Zingu replies.

“I have a certain thing. Four hundred thousand Tanzanian shillings. I would also like to realize my dream of getting up there. I mean like a fellow young guy. Like a Nyamwezi man.”

Budget in Tz Shillings

Budget in Tz Shillings

That was the extent of that conversation before a scrap piece of paper translated the logistics into Tanzanian Shillings. That night, I slept in the Pepsi ghetto of Moshi town in a windowless room whose facade indicated the existence of a hair salon once upon a time. On the five inch queen size mattress that spared us from the frigid cemented floor, Zingu was sprawled like a lizard and Alex was against the wall. It was hard to fall asleep. In the middle of the night, I reached over for my half full bottle of Serengeti beer and gulped as I turned the bottom to the ceiling. It was hard to pick apart the aromas of Arusha gold (a local marijuana strain) and feet. I was in a strange place.

“Wewe ni Mgumu Ras!” 

” Ras, you are like a porter!”

That is what Alex exclaimed when he lifted my 32 kg of backpack that morning as we set out to meet with my guide Dani. At noon, we set out from Machame gate.

Climbing up Kilimanjaro was tough: That is an understatement. Climbing down Kilimanjaro’s Mweka route was like descending a staircase from heaven, with steps built for giants; equally arduous. In the night, the magnificent lights in the distant town of Moshi juxtaposed with the effervescent twinkling stars reminded us of how far we had gone and our proximity to the gods. The scorching sun in the daylight urged us to trek hard and fast.



DSC_0610 DSC_0569 African Union Flag and Colorado Flag. DSC_0352 DSC_0275 DSC_0594

After 16 hours of trekking, on the fourth day, we enjoyed the company of the highest altitude on the African land mass and ushered in a new day.

As if to sum up my experience in kiswahili, my guide turned to me and said,

” Bro, the same soil, the same sun; why wait for a miracle, when you can go find it.”

The little drops of tears that rolled down my cheeks were a modest contribution to the vast field of Ice and snow on Kibo.

In those tears. I felt free.

A better high and a quest for a Rolex

Boda Boda rider waiting for oncoming passengers.

I am sitting at 1000cups coffee house in Kampala, Uganda day dreaming of a Rolex. This Rolex, unbeknownst to me prior to a few days back, is not a time piece. It is Uganda’s favorite snack. A Rolex, by my definition is the progeny of a crepe and a breakfast burrito: A chapati enveloping a cabbage, onion and fresh tomato omelet. Having had three for yesterday’s lunch and two for dinner, the Rolex is now the most recent agent of my guilty conscious. Soon enough I might be a junkie. After all, ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’.

Grocery Stand in Bweyogerere


I am unable to pinpoint the exact inception of this spell of courtship. However, I do have certainty of a few things. The first is that the first spell began at birth on these soils and was nurtured for a lengthy eighteen years. My second surety is that this second spell of courtship has most definitely reached ‘First Base’. At my three day marker, I confess that Africa’s seductive allure has grown just as strong as her perverse efforts to give me a hard time.  Perhaps as part of a reclamation endeavor. Despite that, I feel heavily endowed with a heap of courageous sensibilities.


Motor powered wooden boat taxis in Luzira

After all I am a junkie, powered by thirst and feeling strongly about my position on the better side of 25, I have cashed out and guaranteed myself wild adventures courting the African continent. All in the name of a better high. Africa is who she is. Elaborate in her impressions and complex in her expressions, I approach her wielding my camera on one hand and my Huevos on the other asking to make portraits of her. Portraits that will dignify the African experience as simply as it is lived. Portraits of her people within their unique individual economic, social, political, environmental and cultural contexts.

Village boutique

I write from a traveler’s heart. A market in its own right. Where merchants and eager buyers are pitted against one another in a bargaining duel. The merchants air their wares whilst the buyers revisit their desires for those wares. A bargaining characterized by bilateral flirtations and cultivated by multiple consultations between these two prior to the defining engagement, that is the adventure between these separate persona embodied in one personality: the traveler. This traveler feels more than he thinks. The feelings are never right or wrong, they are ‘no’, and synonymous degrees of ‘yes’; absolutely, of course, sure and why not. He is suspended in a perpetual hypnotic state. A place within his skull that is brimming with wanderlust. This traveler relishes the struggle between the elements and his aircraft. The rumbling of the landing gear being deployed. The promise of the destination.

His journey is similar to a drive a through a foggy road. Regardless of the approach, the elements of surprise are a constant reality. Whether its a deer in your headlights or an unveiling of a spectacular landscape, a dance of sorts ensues that is preceded by a taking away of a breath. Or two.

I write from Kampala, Uganda. Where the challenge on my mortality posed by Ebola slowly (hopefully not successfully) creeping in from the west is puny in the face of that from Bodas: Rampant motorcycle ‘cowboys’ that weave lawlessly through traffic ferrying unperturbed passengers who seem distracted by their mobile phones. A threat so credible, that my western persuasions, coupled with my lack of health insurance, beseech me to enter the helmet buyers-market. Where cranes, Ugandan cranes, are lazily perched on every other building. I exaggerate, but have been staring at three of these very cranes trade spots between two buildings by slowly flattering their lanky wings for the better part of the last two hours. These cranes: My muses. It is also here in Uganda where my observations have noted a certain phenomenon that would demote Nicki Minaj’s  Anaconda to the de ja vu shelf. (with little left to the imagination)

A clean Boda makes the difference.

I write from Uganda, where I have a glimpse on the African experience and it is colored with industry.

I employ my industry in search of a ‘Rolex’. I must sign off.


From Kampala with love