I know this last post is long overdue, and I apologize. I've called this series my annual travel because I do want to make it a yearly habit to go abroad. And I do mean abroad and not just to another borough or to the West Coast. Granted, America is different all over, but actually being outside the continent makes me feel like I'm closer to the outside world and not just simmering in my native NYC juices for the most part. I believe as artists (writers, photographers, painters, musicians, etc.) that we expand our art by learning about the outside world as well as reflecting what we've learned from our daily surroundings.
The yearn for traveling has taken me to Dublin, Ireland for 28 days where I was boarding with girls younger and older than me. And surprise, surprise I found that the women around my age or older (except for one) were the only people I could tolerate on a mental level. I still keep in touch with two of these lovely ladies from their new locations of Seattle and Boston. (Hope to see you soon Aexis & Colleen!) When I was in Dublin the Americans still had sympathy from 9/11 and pre-Iraq War. It'd be cool to return to Dublin to see what they think of us now that we've elected Barack Obama as our 44th president.
I've been to Canada twice, both times in Ontario, and found that in Toronto I had a feeling of blending in & belonging. While in Kingston racism was a bit more prevalent. My guide/friend at the time seemed to realize it more than I did, but it was weird to be up North where they consider themselves so much more advanced then us and to be in a small city where I got stares because of the color of my skin, I mean I haven't experienced that in any of my travels in the U.S., yet.
I spent a few days in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a friends wedding and didn't get to experience Mexican culture too much because the area I was in was saturated with American corporations like Wal-mart, Pizza Hut, Dominoes, and I'm pretty sure I may have seen an Applebee's also. I did go ziplining on my last day through the forests of the city and after rapid sweats and one or two freak out sessions enjoyed my time thoroughly. I even buddied up with two older sisters that were probably in their 50s or so but had the vitality of someone thirty years younger. And what was awesome is that they made it a point to travel together every year.
This year's trip was one I have longed for to visit England, Hereford specifically. I was considering doing a travel abroad in England rather than Ireland than all this Mad Cow stuff happened and well, that was that. I'll want to hit up London at some point, but for research purposes of my novel I need to absorb myself in Hereford for at least three or four days. My hubby seems to really want to come with me which should be good. I hope he doesn't mind me dragging him across the Wye River and going on Cider tours.
My first opportunity to go to Africa was on the CCNY Study Abroad to Morocco. However, once I heard that I wouldn't get to shower on a daily basis the trip was null & void in my mind. Sorry, but there are some things I just can't negotiate. Even the opportunity to dump a bucket of water over me would've sufficed at the time.
But that was then and this is now.
PALF PEEPS Whenever one sets out to travel on their own various images come to mind. For one, what type of people are you going to meet? And two, if there's a language barrier, how will I ask where the bathroom is? For me, the arrival at the airport for my plan ride to Ghana reminded me of my trip to Dublin. I'd basically be cohabitating (kind of) with people I'd never met before of various personalities. And this worried me greatly. In Dublin we were all getting our BAs and were of different mindsets. For the first two days everyone was nice to one another and after that BAM came the divide. Of course living with eight other women tends to mean cattiness may be improbable.
So when we were all cordial (males & females all in our twenties or older) it was pleasant. I was optimistic about the people I'd get to meet. And you know what happened? They didn't disappoint whatsoever. Perhaps it was because it was an older group, and we're all artists just trying to make our way in life and better ourselves and our work that was the bonding theme throughout the conference. I mean having all these other factors that tend to make our daily lives inhabitable and just being together in the Motherland to appreciate this experience made for no ill will amongst those that I hung around. Of course I didn't get to know everyone over the course of a week and that saddens me a bit because I'm sure I missed out on some really cool personalities. I also didn't get to know some people I liked as well as I could've of (thanks traveler's diarrhea) but there was such an overflow of positivity that I felt good the whole time. Not once did I feel a need to bake anyone cookies to try and get with the in-crowd. Not that I could've baked but I could've bought some people digestive cookies.
To date I've been able to keep in contact or be "friended" with people on Facebook. I've seen people's posts about events in NYC, updates on their writing and life, and just queries about life in general. Facebook and Twitter updates have allowed me to know when the flow-tastic Caitlin is performing in the area, see the latest video (Cosmic Headphones) from poet and lyricist extraordinaire Eagle Nebula, hear about the new addition to Paula's family as she balances motherhood and a non-fiction book, and congratulating Chelsea on finishing her novel after years of research, sweat, and tears.
I was able to see my friend Stewart last week at Book Expo which was very happy making. And just saw on Facebook that one of the PALF contest winners, Mildred, just had a book of poetry published in Africa. My instructor Binyavanga is finishing up his time at Bard and fellow workshopper Nana may be coming to NYC this summer. I also heard that Jodie (one of the Admins for PALF) will be headed to England to focus on her writing.
Seeing, reading, hearnig these updates is always great and validating to know that they're still maintaining their creativity. That we're all at different stages of our lives, are healthy and working towards something. Perhaps we don't know what yet, but we're still striving as artists to succeed, to publicize ourselves and our interests, and supporting one another whether it be a simple comment of encouragement on Facebook or paying the fee to see them shine in front of a microphone.
Next year PALF is supposed to be held in Mali. I'm wavering making that my go-to writing spot for the summer or applying to the Iowa Writer's Workshop summer program or someplace else. I'm wavering if I want to go through the vaccinations, medicine, and potential sickness that may inflict me during my time there or if I should stay stateside and see what feedback I can get here. Thinking back to Ghana and how people worried over my well-being, checked in on me when I was at my lowest point, made me laugh and holler at their work in enthusiasm, or just shared my sense of mind when it came to ploughing through that work that seems like the monkey on your back. I think back to the day I got to dance in the rain to live music after eating joloff rice and consider that the experience and people are worth it, hands down.