Category Archives: Travel

A Tuscan Tale

When a dear friend announced she would be celebrating a Big Birthday in Italy and wanted her nearest and dearest (including me) to join her, I hesitated. I am wary of group travel. I am a peculiar fish. I like my space. I find the idea of being constantly surrounded by travel companions daunting. It means I have to be permanently “on” to quote George Costanza, and just the thought of the energy required for continuous Jax is exhausting. But the lure of mouth-watering Tuscan cuisine and vats of Prosecco was hard to resist. This was how I came to be loitering in London’s Gatwick Airport on a wet August day while I waited for a connecting flight to Florence.

My six hours in Gatwick passed relatively quickly. By the time I made necessary fluid adjustments, played “guess the accent/language”, gawped at the outrageous fashions (Clinton Kelly and Stacy London would have had a field day), ate lunch, checked in, and spent a sizeable chunk of cash in duty free, it was time to board my flight. I was traveling alone because the Party Posse preceded me. They were already ensconced in a villa in Tuscany over-indulging in fermented grape juice.

I arrived in Florence as the sun was setting. First impressions – Italy was as I remembered it. The last time I visited Tuscany, I was 20. So little had changed in five years!  The  airport bustled with character; nuns in full habit, tourists, and Italian men with inexplicable sex appeal (even the fugly ones).

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I was met by an excited little man who proudly displayed my name on his iPad screen. He led me through the car park, past an astonishing variety of Fiat cars to his waiting vehicle and then disappeared for 20 minutes.

 

Every conceivable horror movie flashed through my mind in his absence.

Driving from the airport I was struck by the darkness. A combination of starless night and sparse habitation covered the rolling Tuscan hills in inky blackness. We drove past seemingly deserted buildings. Every now and then a stark farmhouse punctuated the darkness with a lone light. The night was what my father would have referred to as “black like Mary’s backside”. I often wondered: Who was Mary? Why was her backside so black? How did my father know?

Familiar names on sign posts evoked memories of high school English Literature, Geography, and unfathomable feats of engineering – Pisa, Florence, Bologna. After forty-five minutes of driving we turned off the main road onto a steep mountain lane. I thought to myself – if this were a movie, this is the scene where the lone black character gets murdered. No street lights, no sound. I realised with a start that apart from other cars, I had not seen a single human since we left the airport. Fifteen minutes later we pulled into the courtyard of Villa Campiestri Resort. It was absolutely still. Not a sound emanated from the darkened buildings. My driver pointed at a door – “Signora, qui”.

20150816_143746Cautiously I stepped over the threshold and back in time. Located in the heart of the Tuscan valley, the Villa Campiestri Resort is a Renaissance villa built around a 13th century fort and surrounded by ancient olive groves. Guests are accommodated in the villa and converted out buildings, decorated to match the period.

The main lobby is a cosy sitting room stuffed with heavily brocaded armchairs, eclectic objets d’art, and mismatched tables.  The walls are adorned with faded frescoes, rugs, and heavy wallpaper.  The only thing missing is a fireplace. I imagine it is cold in winter. Curiously Ella Fitzgerald’s distinctive voice could be heard over the low conversational hum. Over the next few days I would learn Villa Campiestri has a permanent jazz playlist favouring Ella, Louis, Billie, Sarah and early Frank Sinatra.

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My friends had already gone out to dinner leaving me to hold down Team Coloured until their return. After depositing my bags in the tiny bedroom (with en suite bathroom so small I couldn’t even change my mind in it) I ordered a glass of wine and sat outside alone in the dark and silence.

I didn’t have long to wait. The silence was soon broken by the unmistakable sound of approaching cars and distinctive Trini accents. They were in high spirits after a day spent sight seeing and wine tasting. Like The Avengers, we assembled from all over the world with a common purpose – enjoy a few days in Tuscany in the company of the birthday girl. Our superpower? Our link to Trinidad and Tobago.

We excitedly greeted each other and decamped to one of the bedrooms to empty a bottle (or two) of champagne. Three hours later an upstairs inhabitant was hammering on the door complaining about the noise. Apparently her husband had complained the night before…

Reluctantly we retreated to our respective rooms for much needed rest.

Day 2

20150815_133654Our 13-man posse donned matching polo shirts and set off on a two hour drive through the beautiful province of Siena. Our destination was the hill town of Montalcino, famous for its Brunello di Montalcino wines. Sun soaked vineyards, olive groves, and sunflower fields slipped past us on winding country roads, punctuated infrequently by small farmhouses.

Fattoria dei Barbi Winery is owned by the Colombini family, who trace their presence in Montalcino back to 1352. The estate is laid out on 86 hectares and the winery has produced several award winning vintages. Here we toured immense cellars with barrels so vast I felt dwarfed by their size. We sampled their famous Brunello  wines, all superb. As we sipped we nibbled a tasty selection of sliced meats, crackers and cheeses. The wafer thin prosciutto was easily the best I ever had. Emboldened – or perhaps intoxicated – by the flavourful wines, we purchased several bottles to fuel our late night drinking sessions.

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A quick visit to the Renaissance hillside town of Montepulciano for brief retail therapy completed our day’s touring. I marveled at the tiny shops stocked with delectable cheeses, perfectly cured prosciutto, and gorgeous leather goods. One trader in particular profited handsomely from the Trini invasion. Between us we purchased at least ten handbags from her shop.

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We ended our perfect Italian day back at the villa with a multi course meal so outstanding my taste buds have yet to stop applauding. Carpaccio of smoked swordfish, potato gnocchi with seafood and tomatoes, sea bass fillet with vegetables sautéed in Picual olive oil. A tiramisu so perfect in taste and texture, I had two helpings.

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We should have been exhausted but the promise of juicy late night conversation led us to one of the larger bedrooms where we recounted bawdy escapades until yet another guest came to complain about the noise.

Day 3

Sleep was definitely on my agenda today. I skipped breakfast and chose my bed over an excursion to the nearest outlet mall. Judging by the numerous bags my companions returned with, my credit card had a lucky escape. While my fellow Trinis were adding to the Italian GDP I slept late, had a leisurely lunch, and a lazy stroll through the olive groves and meandering trails.

That night we had supper at a club on the shore of Lake Bilancino, Tuscany’s largest man made lake. Pulsating EDM rhythms and flamboyant LGBT clientele competed for our attention. I thought of Spain and a highly entertaining evening I spent last year at Barcelona Pride. Post-supper we hit the dance floor and did our best to blend in with varying degrees of success. Like good Trinis, we came out to represent. Truthfully we were outclassed by the younger, fitter crowd.

Back at Villa Campiestri we chose bedtime rather than risk more complaints from the other guests. As it was, we had already ensured that no person of colour could stay there in the near future, and Trinis were probably permanently blacklisted.

Day 4

My last day in Tuscany. I breakfasted with my companions then bade them farewell as they boarded minibuses bound for Pisa. I chose instead to return to London. One last walk through the olive groves, one last glass of Prosecco. Arrivederci, Italia. Until next time.


The Catalan Chronicles

I’ve always wanted to visit Spain. I have been to just about every other western European country but somehow never made it to Spain or Portugal. When the opportunity came to spend a few days in Barcelona with my daughter, I jumped at the chance.

The entertainment began at Gatwick Airport.  I am frequently amused by the sartorial choices of my fellow travellers. I remember the days when getting on a plane was A Big Deal; and people dressed up to travel. Men wore ties and children were trussed up in Sunday best outfits more suited for church. These days it is not uncommon to see people boarding a flight in pyjamas. The unofficial flight uniform for females under 30 is micro shorts and a hoodie.

Wearing dark jeans and a t-shirt, I looked like a burqa-clad granny compared to the other passengers. In between the conservatively dressed families our flight from London to Barcelona included a cross dresser in a pink tutu, a he-she in a floral get up Hyacinth Bouquet would cherish, and persons of all ages and sexes sporting more flesh than fabric. I felt sorry for the young woman forced to don half the contents of her suitcase to conform with EasyJet’s weight limitations – but I enjoyed the reactions from the male members of the check in queue when she bent over to put on pants.

A few short hours later we were in Barcelona and I was ready to explore my new surroundings. Mini Me however, was not. She flaked out as soon as we arrived at our hotel. After admiring the view of Barcelona Cathedral from our room, our first night in Catalonia was spent in peaceful slumber.

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Avenida Catedral 7 by night

Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 1

What could be better than a trip to the legendary Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona? As it turned out – nothing. Camp Nou was a sports lovers’ paradise; a state of the art stadium with a treasure trove of football paraphernalia. I marvelled at the impressive silverware collection; ogled Lionel Messi’s four Ballon D’or awards, and squealed with delight as I walked through the tunnel leading onto the pitch. Having lunch at the Camp Nou lounge overlooking the pitch was le pièce de résistance.

A Sliver of Silver - A few of FC Barcelona's many trophies

A Sliver of Silver – A few of FC Barcelona’s many trophies

Camp Nou

Camp Nou

Camp Nou Stadium

Camp Nou Stadium

 

Camp Nou Lounge

Camp Nou Lounge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I blissfully munched grilled octopus and sliders while sipping perfectly chilled Chardonnay. It was impossible not to be overwhelmed by the rich history and romance of Camp Nou. Even the Real Madrid fans defiantly strutting around in their away kits were impressed.

That evening, after a tactical time-out (i.e. a nap), Mini Me and I ate paella on Las Ramblas and shared a sangria bucket while watching the world stroll past. Continental European fashion style is fascinating. The men, for the most part, are impeccably groomed and buff, with carefully coiffured hair held in place by expensive product. The women strut around in impossibly high heels draped in outfits that are absolutely on point, with hairstyles and makeup to match – and plaitable underarm hair. I also observed several women rocking pelts. Clearly keeping it natural is still A Thing in Europe.

Heterosexual and gay couples walked arm in arm down the avenue, chattering animatedly in multiple languages. I revelled in the relaxed atmosphere and easy acceptance of all God’s children.

Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barcelona Street Life

Barcelona Street Life

Day 2

Having been advised by Friends With Knowledge that no trip to Barcelona was complete without a visit to La Sagrada Familia, we joined a few hundred others and queued for tickets to explore the legendary cathedral. It did not disappoint. Even my jaded teenaged companion was struck by the breath-taking beauty of Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece.

Irrespective of religious persuasion, one cannot help but be touched by the sheer majesty of the building. The intricate and unusual architecture of La Sagrada Familia is extraordinary.  I tried to visualize the finished building but honestly couldn’t imagine further gilding the lily.

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia - Internal

La Sagrada Familia – Internal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We left La Sagrada Familia with dozens of photographs and a sizable bag of commemorative souvenirs.

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia - Internal

La Sagrada Familia – Internal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For our third and final night in Barcelona, we ventured to Plaça d’Espanya to see Font Màgica. Hunger gripped us as soon as we exited the Metro. We made a beeline for the nearest tapas bar and were soon feasting on small plates of heaven.  Fortified by tasty morsels and yet more sangria, I resumed my favourite vacation activity – people watching.

Plaça d'Espanya

Plaça d’Espanya

There was plenty to see. We’d barely walked 50 yards before Mini Me was gaping open mouthed at the naked – yes completely naked – and hairless, except for her Lady Godiva style tresses – performance artiste strolling up and down in front of us. Public nudity didn’t appear to be a criminal offence. Two policemen stood idly by playing with their phones.  Fellow passers-by seemed similarly disinterested. While Mini Me and I gawped, people barely registered Godiva’s presence. Momentarily mesmerised, I forgot I had a camera. But before I had a chance to take a cheeky (pun intended) pic, Godiva slipped on a dress and the show was over. We walked on.

Plaça d’Espanya was packed with people taking advantage of the warm Catalan night and free entertainment. A large crowd gathered around Font Màgica and we jostled for position with the hundreds of others attempting to take selfies near the beautifully lit fountain. After taking in the synchronized light and water show, we wandered over to the stage where a concert was in progress.

La Font Màgica

La Font Màgica

La Font Màgica

La Font Màgica

To our delight, the concert was a drag queen talent show. It was fantastic! We were treated to Eurovision-style song and dance acts with costumes so elaborate they’d make a Trini Carnival designer jealous.

 

It was at this point that I began to notice the composition of the crowd around us. The spectators were a curious mix of tourists such as us, the odd family with young children, couplings of every sexual orientation possible, and a surprising number of bearded men in frocks.

Much as we were enjoying the show, the hour was getting late so we reluctantly made our way towards the Metro station. On our way out of Plaça d’Espanya we passed several stalls selling food, drink, and the kind of items usually stocked in the back rooms of stores you need to be 18 years and over to enter. I couldn’t resist a closer look. It’s not every day you see an 18 inch dildo for sale in a public square. (I guess it depends on where you live.)

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I’m very open-minded. Well at least I think I am. But I confess to being somewhat nonplussed by the sights and sounds. Until I saw this sign as we exited the square:

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The penny dropped. Suddenly everything made sense! The cross dressers and he-shes on our flight; the drag queens; the unusual stalls. Mini Me and I had unwittingly attended our first Gay Pride Festival! Definitely an experience to be repeated.

Day 3

From fake penises to Pablo – our Catalan adventure concluded with visits to the Picasso Museum and Barcelona Cathedral. To say that Picasso was a child prodigy is an understatement. His early work displayed a depth, maturity, and perception so uncommon in a young teen I couldn’t help but compare him to my own fifteen year old son. (I made a mental note to speak to his art teacher as soon as I got home.)

After the splendour of La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona Cathedral seemed somewhat bland in comparison. But it glowed with a quiet beauty and tranquility that refreshed my soul and energized me for the journey ahead.

Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I inhaled the Cathedral’s peaceful atmosphere alone, Mini Me having been turned away at the door for unsuitable attire. (Backless mini dress at a Catholic Cathedral? Seriously? She looked for that.)

As we boarded the flight to London a few hours later, I bid Barcelona a sleepy adios. My final thoughts? What Schwarzenegger said.

 


One In a Million

It’s been a while.

My time has been totally taken up with trying to run a business and keep the Cirque going; unfortunately to the detriment of my blogging. Trying to get back into regular writing and it just so happens I have something Very Exciting to write about.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter or befriend me on Facebook will know that I am a tireless and passionate supporter of Positive Women, a charity working to improve the quality of life for persons in Swaziland affected by HIV/AIDS and TB, particularly women and children. Working with a shoestring budget and almost totally dependent on international aid, Positive Woman runs women’s self-help programmes, neighbourhood care points for orphans, and mobile clinics.

In August 2011 I visited the headquarters of Swaziland for Positive Living (SWAPOL), Positive Women’s African partner organisation. I recently caught up with Kathryn Llewellyn, the founder and chief advocate for Positive Women. Kathryn updated me on what current challenges the charity is facing.

“2012 was a difficult year for Positive Women. The charity depends heavily on international aid for survival, primarily from the Global Fund.  Last year the money never materialised. SWAPOL was expecting 1 million Rand (98,000 USD) but the aid didn’t come through. The result was lots of homeless children, and stunted growth.”

Not surprisingly, Positive Women found it difficult to sustain some of their ventures, in particular the neighbourhood care points.  Out of 100 centres, 45 have a regular food supply. The rest receive food sporadically, yet the children still come because they feel protected there.

SWAPOL had to release staff to cut costs. The organisation is more streamlined now but not necessarily with the right resources.  SWAPOL is currently trying to secure funds for organisational development and training. This will enable the organisation to offer staff 3 year contracts and maintain continuity in their programmes. In the long-term SWAPOL hopes to set up more nutrition gardens and maize farms so that the most vulnerable in Swazi society can learn to provide for themselves while establishing food security.

Swaziland cannot depend on international aid to solve its social problems. The country is classed as “middle-income” by the United Nations and therefore ineligible for many funding programmes. This is devastating for a country with the highest rate of HIV/AIDS infection in the world (26%) and an average life expectancy of 50 years old.   In short, the situation in Swaziland is grim. But not hopeless.

Kathryn Llewellyn is determined to make a difference and quit her fulltime job to focus on Positive Women. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. This year Kathryn was nominated for an Ogunte Women’s Social Leadership Award

Last month Positive Women launched the Just A Million Campaign. The premise is simple – they want one million people to do one thing that will make a difference and help the people of Swaziland. I’m ridiculously excited about this campaign because two of my nearest and dearest have decided to do a Very Brave Thing to raise money for Positive Women.

During the week of 27th July to 3rd August 2013, my husband and his younger brother are going to do a sponsored climb of the highest mountains in Finland (Haldi, 1425m) and Sweden (Kebnekaise, 2111m). Both mountains are situated over 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle and will involve significant treks to reach. I still can’t get my head around the sheer insanity of it, but they are committed to the venture and hope to raise £2000 for Positive Women in the process.

I’m shamelessly urging you to become one of the million by supporting my husband and making a donation here. (For obvious reasons I want the climb to be a success and my spouse to return in one piece. It would mess up my carpool arrangements if he didn’t)

Every donation, no matter how small, will help. All it takes is one action.

Read about the climb here:

http://www.everydayhero.co.uk/simon_westcott

Do what you can to publicise this venture by sharing this post and encouraging others to do the same.

One million people. One million actions. A country (population 1 million) saved.


Da Yaee Ghana

Time has moved on since my last blog. I’ve had four days to soak in a bit of Accra and get acquainted with the new client system. (FYI I’m on maximum strength Nexium. Taking in front…) My hotel is fine and I have no complaints except for the abundance of slim, pretty women working here. This is nature’s way of reminding me that there is no way in HELL I’ll have a Bliss costume-ready body by February 20th. But seriously, when did Ghana get all these gorgeous women? I forbid my husband to come here again.

My Ghanaian hosts were gracious, helpful and extremely pleased to have me with them. I had three productive and extremely busy days. It’s very detailed work, and the sort of stuff I love to do. They are trying to inveigle me to help them with a host of organisational issues. I’ve committed to visiting Ghana next month and we‘re discussing additional projects.

Whenever I visit any country where football, cricket or both are popular I inevitably get asked about Trinbago’s most famous sporting icons, and Ghana is no exception. What – we all know each other? The place is so small? Canny observers who pick up on my surname often follow up with “Are you related to…?” And then I have to concede that the country IS indeed that small and half of Buccoo and Patience Hill share my DNA. But there are benefits to living in a pimple on the South American continent – topics to be explored in future blog posts, perhaps.

Things I learned about Ghana:

Fact – Ghana had the world’s fastest  growing economy in 2011 according to the International Monetary Fund – a ridiculous 20.15% in the first half of 2011.

Fact – The traffic in Accra makes Bangkok look like a kiddies’ bumper car circuit.  Everyone drives like a Crystal Stream maxi-taxi driver. But on Wednesday night the roads were exceptionally clear. The Africa Cup of Nations is on and Ghana played Guinea last night. By 6pm every man, woman and stray dog was gathered around a TV.  Huge screens set up in Accra’s commercial district pulled large crowds. Ghana drew 1-1 with Guinea, putting them through to the quarter finals.

Fact – The Ghanaian Cedi is 1.66 to the US dollar. Sheesh – even if you reverse the numbers it’s still worth more than the Trini dollar. And we feel we’re so great.

Fact – Ghana is one of the most religious countries in the world; 90% of the population belong to an organised religion and believe in a higher being. What was it T&T is famous for again? Oh yeah – feting and bobol.

On Wednesday afternoon I got the opportunity to see beyond my hotel and the client’s building. I met up with some Trinis working here (we’re like Bruno Mars and salt – in everything) and they took me on a tour of the city.

Accra is a huge place (population 2.3M). Lonely Planet describes it as “Africa for Beginners” – a mixture of the modern and the traditional, with sufficient comforts to appease a Western palate. The people are friendly and despite what I read on the internet, the incidence of crime against foreigners is relatively low. Busy, dusty streets are packed with traffic, people and commerce. A visual smorgasbord of poverty, prosperity, religion, art and culture; all impatiently jostling for attention. I visited the Independence Square, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park (what’s the deal with African leaders and HUGE mausoleums?) and bought a few artefacts at the Art Center. I apologise for the poor quality pics – I was in a moving car, after all. Hopefully I’ll have more time to explore on my next visit.

Similar to Trinidad, hawkers converge on cars at traffic lights offering a variety of goods. Unlike Trinidad, the items for sale are somewhat…unusual. I’m used to people vending fruit, vegetables, even the odd As Seen On TV item. But fake Pringles chips (yes, fake Pringles), toilet paper, Scrabble games? SMH.

I spent my last night in Ghana at the Trini posse’s house (which was spectacular) watching the football and chilling out before trekking to the airport. I don’t know what I enjoyed more – the lime or watching the intense expression on their Ghanaian colleague’s face as he concentrated on the match.

All too soon my Ghanaian adventure was over and I was boarding a United Airlines flight bound for the USA. BTW – anybody reading this remember what Piarco airport was like 25 years ago? THAT is Accra’s airport today. Nuff said.

So now I’m sitting in Washington Dulles airport passing time before my next flight. New blog posts will appear on Sunday evening/Monday morning depending on your time zone. Have an opinion on this post? Sound off in the comments below. Ta ta for now!


Greetings from Ghana

I arrived in Ghana dishevelled and reeking of vomit. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Previously on The Trini Travel Diaries…(cue harps and blurry wave motion visuals)

To quote my mother, Ghana ain’t here. It’s FAR. And getting there involved a two day journey over three continents. I set off from sunny T&T on a Friday morning bound for cold, foggy New York. Considering I was on a flight which originated in Guyana, this leg of the journey was trouble free. Apologies to all Guyanese but you guys KNOW what I’m talking about.

Arrived in JFK with three hours to kill and per diem burning a hole in my handbag. Checked in for my next flight (to Frankfurt) and gravitated towards the nearest place offering food and alcohol. Before long I was tucking into a caesar salad and much needed glass of Pinot Grigio. Incidentally, I was delighted to be asked for ID when I placed my order, although a dear friend in the UK pointed out this was probably standard practice for all patrons. I disagree. The couple who followed me weren’t carded. So what if they were both salt and pepper grey and wearing Burberry raincoats? They could have been mature teenagers.

Before I knew it I was on a Lufthansa aircraft heading to Frankfurt. Top class service, roomy seats, and who can argue with an airline that has wifi on transatlantic flights? Pity I was in cattle class and didn’t experience that last perk. It was the first time I’d been on an aircraft where one had to go downstairs to the loo. Or should I say loos – five off them snuggled together. Yes, this was a big-ass plane.

I slept most of the eight hour flight, apart from two hours devoted to ogling Jake Gyllenhaal in Love and Other Drugs (I could write a blog post about him alone – but I digress). Before I blinked twice, it was time to spreken zie Deutsch.

I love the continental European approach to immigration. I got off the plane and basically wandered uninterrupted around the airport for several hours. I was asked to show my passport once – after I had already been in the airport for a good two hours. The official barely glanced at it and waved me on.

Mega kudos to Frankfurt airport for having miniature chilled bottles of Proseco available for sale at 6 am in the morning. This should be mandatory in all international airports. Did I mention that it was Saturday by this time?

What does one do when you have an eight hour layover? Find a comfortable place to sleep for a few hours – again kudos to Frankfurt airport for having reclining lounge chairs at the departure gates – and engage in not too surreptitious people watching.  Frankfurt has an amazingly high percentage of celebrity doppelgangers. In swear I saw Jackie Chan, Jeremy Irons, Shah Rukh Khan and Joan Collins.

By the time I boarded the second Lufthansa plane for the final seven hour leg of my journey, I was feeling a bit weary and my stomach was starting to complain about the strange mixture of food I had ingested. (My philosophy on eating while travelling is simple – eat everything put in front of you because you have no idea when or where the next meal is coming from). This might explain why  I threw up as soon as the plane landed in Accra. The Ghanaian man sitting next to me hurriedly shoved a plastic bag in my face – I was too mortified to look at him, let alone say thank you. I remember thinking “Blast! Not the Coach handbag!”

Which brings me back to the start of this post. I arrived in Ghana dishevelled…yadda yadda. So far my first visit to Ghana was following the Westerner Travels to the Dark Continent Movie Plot. I had the obligatory argument with the sour-faced immigration official “Where’s your visa?” who tried – and failed – to make me pay $100US for a visa I didn’t need.

Two static-filled phone calls to the hotel established that no-one was at the airport to meet me, “But he’s on his way ma’am”. I was started to get a bit irked by the steady stream of strange men  offering to take me wherever I needed to go. It was 8pm on Saturday night and I was tired and in need of a shower.

The driver finally turned up and it was a short ride to the hotel. Of course when I got there I found out my reservation had been cancelled (they thought I was arriving the previous night) but Akuna Matata – soon sorted out.

The hotel is adequate – no ants sharing the bed this time a la South African experience. I did get a bit concerned when the maid turned up this evening to spray the room. Spray for what?? I don’t want to know.

Slept all day today; rising only briefly to have breakfast and crawl back into bed. Around 4pm I decided I’d better do some work. Yes, work – I’m not here on a jolly. There are actually people willing to transport me half way around the world and pay for my expertise (I pity the fools…).

Tomorrow is my first day on Client premises. I’ll be practising my intelligent-and-interested face until I fall asleep. Which will be soon. Stay tuned for the next thrilling installment of “Trini Girl Lands Big Wuk in Foreign”.


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