Mango Trip.

It’s a random day. A random morning.

I’m hungry.

I’m walking along the cobblestone road which cuts across the entrance of Hotel Aeroflot – the place where I stay.

There are a couple pawpaw trees nearby.

Every now and then I come along and steal a couple. I think the trees are mostly for decoration, but Hey, fruits!

There don’t seem to be any pluckable pawpaws today.

I keep heading down the road.

I walk past a few coconut trees.

A few boys recruited me into their coconut plucking mission the other day.

They asked if one of them could stand on my shoulders so he could reach the coconuts up ahead.

I said Haha okay.

They got a number of coconuts that day.


There’s a mango tree up ahead.

Hm. Mangoes. Hmm.

Sounds like an interesting idea.

I’m watching the tree from a distance, thinking of how to most effectively to approach it.


I’m at the tree. I’m attempting to pluck a number of fruits.

There’s a queue of tourists not far from me. I think they’re trying to check into the lodge here. The mango tree is in front of the lodge.

Something happens somehow, and I find myself in conversation with some of the tourists. I think someone was curious and and amused, and they asked what I was doing – something like that.

So we’re talking.

I’m talking with this couple from the UK. They should be in their forties or fifties. Or maybe late fifties.

They’re both doctors.

We’re talking about a number of things.

They say they were recently on a number of other islands in the country. We talk a bit about some of their experiences there.

They were recently at Sao Vicente. Sao Vicente is one of the other islands which comprise the Cape Verdean archipelago.

I’d really like to visit Sao Vincente.

Someone said they have a lot of parties there. Someone I met at Terra Boa – the town around the centre of this island – Sal. His name was Aurelio.

He said “Sao Vincente? Festa! Every time Festa! Every time!”

Haha. Sounds like an interesting place.

I keep talking with the Doctor couple.

The woman says something about her husband – says his knuckles are dragging on the ground or something like that.

I’m not quite familiar with the expression.

She explains a bit more.

I think it alludes to being something of a luddite.

In his defence he says a lot of recent technology just doesn’t go down well with him.

He talks about how they send tax reports in the UK.

I think it’s tax reports. Something like that. Some document they prepare and submit to the government.

He said previously you had to walk down to the office and physically turn in the document. That there was a resounding feeling of finality to that process.

“Now there’s just some page on the internet where you click a button to submit, and that’s it.”

It’s just not the same thing. It just isn’t.”

Hahaha.

He says he prefers to still walk down to the office to turn things in.

That he’s never going to be comfortable with just doing that on a screen.

Haha.

We keep talking.


A man just walked out of the hotel entrance.

He’s Cape Verdean.

He’s pointing his finger and yelling at me in Creole.

Hm. I wonder what’s going on.

I think he might be the hotel manager.

Yeah. Yeah he is. Yeah he’s the hotel manager.

“Go away! You! Go away! Go and get a job!”

“Do you have job?”

He stares at me and asks on the very top of his voice.

“Do you have job?”

“Go and get a job! Go! Go!”

I have some sort of an understanding of what is happening.

He thinks I’m trying to ingratiate myself with the tourists somehow. With the intention of somehow getting money from them.

That’s something people here generally do. Tourists and tourism are the primary source of revenue on this island, and people employ formal and informal techniques to get in on some of that tourist cash.

I don’t know what this hotel manager guy’s problem is.

I was just having a plain conversation.

There aren’t so many people on the island I can converse in English with – everyone speaks Portuguese/Creole.

Ad so it’s usually refreshing coming across people with whom I can have extended conversations in English.

I’m a bit hurt, but I don’t blame him.

He’s not entirely wrong.

I do not have a job, or any serious source of income.

That part is true.

Ugh.

I knew my gap-year decision was going to come with consequences. Being misunderstood was one of them.

In all though, I’m not too bothered by him.

I say goodbye to the friendly tourist couple and head on my way, a few mangoes in hand.


Image: Random plant thing somewhere on Sal island.

“Red Wine In Straw”. 2.

I’m sipping some “Super Bock” beer. Wondering how this evening will turn out.

We’re exchanging some light conversation – me and the guy who has offered to host me for the night.

We’re doing what we can, given the language barrier.

Language barriers are so annoying.

I Like, we’re all human beings. Generally we all have this shared space of cognitive concepts we’re all familiar with. I’ve been alive as a human being on this planet for like the past twenty one years. This guy has probably been alive for a similar amount of time. There’s a lot we have in common – just by virtue of the shared experience of existing on this planet as instances of the Homo sapiens species.

But language barriers – language barriers make it seem like we’re completely different species with absolutely nothing in common.

I have things on my mind I’m unable to communicate to you. You have things on your mind you’re unable to communicate to me. I might as well be an ant that communicates with antennas on my head. And you might as well be a dolphin that communicates with underwater sonar signals. Because we’re just unable to exchange thoughts and ideas.

We’re doing so little actual communication because there’s no way to succinctly pass information across. Most of what’s happening between us right now is just vibes. We’re just enjoying this shared congenial vibe over beer at this local bar in the innards of Espargos.

There was this guy I met a while back. I was at a restaurant here in Espargos – I think I had something to eat, and then I was doing some stuff on my computer after. We got talking and he invited me over to his place at Palmeira. We spent over an hour together at his place, but exchanged very few words because of the frustration of the whole language barrier thing.

I was so annoyed. Like, “I know I’m going to like this guy. I know we’re going to be friends somehow, somewhat, to some extent. But we cannot communicate, We. Cannot. Communicate, WHHYYYYY.”

Every now and then I use Google Translate. The app is pretty good, and it translates spoken audio too. But so far it has only proven practical for very brief/more formal conversation.

Like I’m trying to ask if they have say potatoes in stock at a grocery store, and I’m not sure what “potato” means in Portuguese. So I speak into the app, and then a robot-ey voice pronounces the Portuguese equivalent of “potato”.

Those are generally the scenarios in which it has proven very useful.

But informal free-flowing conversation that hinges a lot on that constant continuity and flow in the moment? Especially for people who you’ve just met and are still in the process of building rapport? Nah. Translation apps just kill the vibe. They just don’t work.


We’ve left the bar.

We’re heading somewhere – I imagine his living space is the final destination.

We’ve just come across a number of his friends. They seem cool.

One of them is tall and athletic, with a head of mid-length dreadlocks – like a dreadlock afro. I like him.

We’re all walking along the street and chatting.

There’s a club nearby. Interesting multi-coloured lights and stuff outside. There’s a long queue outside the club. It looks interesting. It’s giving me flashbacks. Haha.

Somehow a carton of red wine appears. I think someone bought it.

So there’s this strange wine they have in Cape Verde. It’s not in a bottle. It’s in like a juice pack. Like the large hardcover sort of pack you’ll usually see like family-sized juice in. Yeah like that. But instead they put wine in it. Red wine.

It’s strange. It’s strange but it’s cool and interesting somehow.

So like, I can buy a “juice pack” of red wine at the grocery store on a random evening, take a few steps out of the entrance, sit down on the sidewalk and have myself some red wine. Straight out of the pack. Like I’m sipping juice.

I don’t know how you’d do that with a bottle. Like, first you’ll need to find a bottle-opener. I don’t think you can just ask random people on the road if they happen to have a wine bottle opener in their pocket or their handbag. Haha.

We’re passing the wine around, taking sips. We all have our own straws. So when you’re passed the pack you dip your straw into a hole on top, take a few sips, and then pass it across.

“Red wine in straw!”

It’s the tall guy with afro dreadlocks.

“Red wine in straw!” He says to me excitedly.

So there’s a way Cape Verdean locals speak English. Their pronunciation is different – for example they pronounce the sound “h” with a more pronounced constriction at the back of their mouths so their “h” sounds almost like a “k”.

So they say stuff like “Hkhow? Hkhow you do it Mayowa? Hkhow? Tell me, I want to know.”

There’s also something unusual about the way they space and stress their words.

For example this guy is saying “Red wine in straw”, but he says it like “Red winee IN…..strAW!”

I think it’s strange and amusing.

He has uttered the phrase like ten times now, and each time he said it the exact same way.

Every time he says it I burst into laughter. That’s probably why he keeps saying it. He looks so funny when he says it.


Something strange is happening. The initial guy I met at the bar – the one who offered to host me at his place for the night- His mood is souring and I don’t know why.

Every now and then he just stops and turns around and begins to shout and rant angrily in Creole. I don’t know what’s going on. It’s disturbing the vibe of the group. The other people are also concerned.

He doesn’t seem to be angry at anyone or anything in particular. He’s just becoming progressively irascible, and I don’t get it.

I don’t know anything about him, but the whole thing feels like the sort of pre-existing subliminal emotional turmoil that alcohol brings to the surface. I wonder what it is that’s actually stressing him.

We keep walking down the sidewalk.

The “Red wine in straw” guy keeps making me laugh and dismiss the other guy’s strange behaviour.

We keep walking and passing the wine around.

I keep watching as things progress.

All of a sudden the irrational guy walks towards me and drags my propane cylinder out of the crook in my elbow.

I’m watching in surprise. What?

He lifts the cylinder and slams it on the ground.

Ahhhhh!!!!

That’s it.

That is fucking it.

This is the last fucking straw.

Does this guy even know where I’m coming from?

Does this guy know how far I’ve brought this cylinder?

I’ve brought this thing halfway across the island!!

All for it to be ruined by this irascible motherfucker?!

Couchsurfing be damned. I can no longer stay within proximity of this person.

I pick up the cylinder and angrily walk away.


I’m about fifteen minutes away before I gradually begin to calm down.

I am still fuming and muttering to myself.

Irrational motherfucker. I wonder what the fuck his problem is.

Just threw the cylinder on the ground like that. For no fucking reason.

Fucker.

It’s almost midnight.

I have no idea where I’m going to spend the night.

The streets are pretty quiet.

Hm.

Hopefully the police doesn’t find me wandering about in the dead of the night.

Ugh. No. Not today please. Not tonight.

Every now and then I find myself in some sort of an issue with the island police. For the most random things. And like, I’m never actually doing anything wrong. Usually. It’s usually just some sort of a misunderstanding somehow.

A good number of the police guys know me by name at this point.

Like, now they call out to me and wave whenever we cross paths.

“Like Hey Mister Strange man, hope you’re doing good today. And hope you’re not planning to get into any trouble on this new day”.

I’m this guy whose life nobody understands, no-one including myself.

I’m not in the mood to spend another night being the butt of jokes from those annoying Police guys.

Let’s see what’s going to happen.


Image: At Praia Antonio D’Souza. The beach on the southernmost end of Sal island, Cape Verde.


This post is one in a series. The other pieces in the series can be accessed here.

San Francisco: Walking about in an Art Exhibition.

I’m at an Art exhibition in San Francisco.

It’s an interesting room. There are photographs, sculptures, fabric, Interesting stuff.

It was an impromptu thing. I didn’t plan to be here. I was probably skateboarding my way to some cafe to do some work. And as I whizzed by on the sidewalk this exhibition caught my eye.

It is an interesting room.

The glow of the room is mostly yellowish – warm lighting from overhead bulbs.

There’s punch being passed around. I get myself a cup. It’s purple – like some sort of blackcurrant flavour. There’s some fluffy jelly-ey stuff at the bottom of the drink. Chewy. I have no idea what it is. I didn’t know people put chewy stuff inside punch. But it feels like an interesting addition to the drink.

To the right of the entrance there are photographs on the wall. One of them looks like a picture of a subterraneous church in a desert. Like, a literal underground church. Like they dug a hole in the dry brown desert ground, and built a church in the hole.

I don’t get the idea behind the church, but it looks like a really interesting picture. If I had some spare money I would probably buy it.

I’ve been buying a few things here and there.

I bought this really cool ball at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art one random evening. I was walking behind the AMC Matreon building, thinking of cool dark spots to stop and steal some kisses while out on a date.

And then I saw the SF MOMA space. They were moving to a new location, and they had this Discount Sale thing going on. I spent over an hour just going through the very exciting things they had on sale. And at the end I bought the ball. It wasn’t too large to constitute any logistical headache. I also felt it was very financially accessible, for something that interesting.

It’s a small transparent ball you can hold in your hand, but inside it there are like twenty tiny coloured beads that float around in the viscous liquid the transparent ball is infused with. I think it looks super interesting.

I bought two other balls at the Exploratorium. Two smaller squishy balls. One pinkish and the other light light-green.

You know, now I’m not sure which balls I bought where. Did I buy the two squishy balls at SF MOMA? Hm, now I’m not quite sure.

I put the three balls in a wine glass I place on the work desk in my dorm room. It’s really interesting seeing the sunlight hit the glass and the balls, and having that complement the view of the San Francisco Bay I have from the desk. Cool stuff.

I really like my room.

I’ll be changing cities soon as part of the school program. I’ll need to think about how to move around with these things I set up.

I’m not taking any wine glasses along on international flights, that’s for sure.


I’m walking around the room, taking in the art and conversing with people.

I’m talking with the lady pouring the punch.

I think she’s very pretty. She says she’s from Senegal.

She’s very light skinned. I think that’s unusual for someone from Senegal. Usually I would think Senegalese people were very dark. Her pupils look greenish somehow. I don’t know if they’re contact lenses, but either way I think they’re super hot.

I think she flies around with the other lady – a dark-skinned one standing not too far off – she looks like the manager of the operation or something.

We talk for a bit. I entertain thoughts about collecting say a phone number, keeping in touch, possibly planning something. She’s friendly, and she looks like she might be open to it.

I don’t know. These days I have a good number of interesting people I’m unable to follow-up with. My life these days is school assignments and pre-planned travel itineraries mapped out by the school administration. So much is outside my control.

Ugh.

I get some more punch as we keep talking.

Their lives must be so cool though, travelling around and trading art halfway around the world from where they were purchased.

Seems like a really interesting sort of life. Mmm.


I’m talking with the dark-skinned woman a few feet away. The one who has an air of being “the boss of the operation”.

I mention that I find what they’re doing extremely interesting. They’ve got really colourful fabric that reminds me of traditional attire from Nigeria.

We talk about the artwork.

There’s this class I’m taking in college – Multimodal Communications.

Recently we’ve been studying art. Studying Picasso’s artwork and analysing the subliminal messages and undertones in the different pieces. Stuff like that. The classes have been making me feel especially sophisticated.

Like, Professor I definitely agree with Shajara on that. This particular campaign poster was really tapping into the anti-colonial sentiment at the time. And if we take a look at the generous use of the colour red, it was really intended as an allusion to the overbearing presence of the Spanish occupiers...

Please give me second while I take a sip of my 1923 Sauvignon ..

Aha, as I was saying….

Hahaha.

I’m talking with the manager, drawing on some of the concepts I’ve been learning in Multimodal Communications class.

She doesn’t seem to share my enthusiasm.

She gives me a very matter-of-factly stare and emphasises that she’s running a business.

In that second I get a sense of the anxiety that comes with such an entrepreneurial situation. She probably rented out this space for the exhibition. She’s most likely thinking about the wages of the people working with her, how many art pieces have been sold, and how all of this will result in a profitable venture at the end of the day. Those are probably the calculations running through her mind. Not the entrancing use of vibrant colours on West African traditional fabric.

Hahaha. Good to know.


I keep walking around the room, taking in the interesting pieces on display. There’s a couple not far off. An interracial couple. They look like they’re in their mid-thirties. They both have relatively pronounced statures. The man looks like a Black-American, a bit on the fleshy side- just a bit, and his partner is a thick white woman with blond hair.

They look through the art, exchanging smiles and light kisses every now and then.

I watch them with a level of admiration.

They look very comfortable and established in life. I can tell that just from looking at them.

Like mm look at us, we have absolutely no problems in life. Lets go peruse some artwork and enjoy each other’s company on this random Wednesday morning. Mwah mwah. Mwah mwah mwah.

Mm, babe this one is three thousand dollars, how would you like that for the kitchen?

Oh you think it’ll be better along the staircase?

Hm you know, I think I agree with you. It really complements the rug.

Let’s get it. Mwah mwah.

Haha.


I’m in a different corner of the room.

I’m in conversation with a guy. He kinda looks like Harold Perineau. Like a Harold Perineau in his late twenties/early thirties with a pronounced crew cut.

I think he’s an interesting guy. He speaks with a very soft and calm voice.

We’re talking about random stuff. At some point we talk about music.

He says something about analog music and how it represents the highest-fidelity form of audio. He says digital technology chops up the sound into a discrete form amenable to computer processing. And that there could come a time in the evolution of music where the world would revert to audio for its uncompromised fidelity. So it would be a strange trend – Usually transitioning from analog to digital is seen as the very hallmark of technological progression. But at some point it could be the other way around.

Hmm. Wow.

I think that is an extremely brilliant argument. Wow. Just wow.

We keep talking.

At this point I’ve probably read somewhere about the Nyquist-Shannon theorem. I’m probably just not familiar enough with its implications to understand how it relates to his perspective. The theorem says something about the relationship between the information capacity of corresponding digital and analog signals – something like that.

We keep talking.

At some point I realise that he’s a photographer. He was actually the one who took the super-interesting pictures of the underground church. Woah.

He says he took the pictures on a recent trip to Africa. Somewhere in Ethiopia. Or Eritrea, something like that.

We keep talking.

At some point he introduces me to his sister. They live together somewhere in San Francisco. We talk.

Every now and then I bring up something about the super cool college programme I’m enrolled in, and all of the immensely interesting stuff we’re learning. It something I’m extremely excited about, and usually it just comes up at some point whenever I’m in conversation with people.

Haha. All of this stuff I’m so excited about right now, will make my life unthinkably complicated and difficult in about a year.

Haha.

I don’t know any of that now though. I don’t know any of that now.

We keep talking.

At some point the super interesting photographer guy gives me his card.

He says I’m going to be an extremely successful scientific person. I thank him for the massive compliment and say Haha I hope.

His sister wishes me the best of luck with my endeavours.

He says I don’t need luck.

Hahahahahaha. Tell that to me this time next year. I’ m going to need all the freaking luck I can get Bro.

Hahahaha.

I think he’s such a cool guy.

I keep walking around the room.


Image: Random rainy day in Downtown San Francisco.

Up California St. With Love. 1.

I’m at Trader Joe’s. I’m grocery shopping.

Walking through the aisles and picking stuff.

I learnt about Trader Joe’s just recently. My American roommate told me about it.

I didn’t even know there was such a thing.

I previously used to do all of my grocery shopping at Walgreens. A few blocks down Powell.

I go down Powell on my way to a number of places. The college HQ, events – a lot of places. And the Walgreens logo is pretty conspicuous, so I learnt of the location pretty quickly.

I learnt about Trader Joe’s later. I think it was during Halloween. I was roaming around the city – it was me, a Spanish classmate, and my roommate. We were trying to get costumes. We hadn’t even made up our minds on what we wanted to dress as.

My roommate said he wanted to go get some sushi somewhere.

We said alright.

And then we all went to into this grocery store on California street that I never even knew existed.

I was just walking around like Ohh wait what, there’s this place? Whatt?? All this while I’ve been shopping like Walgreens is the only place to buy stuff – Whattt?

So now I shop at Trader Joe’s every now and then. More frequently than Walgreens actually.

Well not really.

Usually when I shop at Trader Joes I get more stuff, and so there’s a longer span of time before I have to go grocery shopping again.

So I don’t know.

There’s this other store my roommate talks about. Costco.

He says his whole family shops there.

There was this day he came to the room with like two whole suitcases full of groceries. In fact I think they were more than two.

He says at Costco you can get membership cards and this gives you some huge discounts on stuff you buy. So his parents do like family-sized grocery shopping at solid discounts.

Shopping at Costco. Hm. Now I’m curious.

Sounds like such an American thing.

Oh hey look at me shopping at Costco with my membership card and getting huge family-sized discounts.

Such USA, so American ooh.


I also recently learnt about 7-Eleven pizza.

I was in the room of a Kenyan classmate. I probably stopped by to chat about something. He had one of his friends around. Also Kenyan. Was studying at UC Berkeley.

As we all chatted and shared laughs, something they were eating caught my eye.

It was pizza.

But the smell though, the smell. Oh man.

It had a very distinct smell.

I asked if I could have a slice. They said sure why not.

Next thing I knew I was asking for a precise description of where they got the pizza.

Wait, so the place is called 7-Eleven right?

Oh there’s a 7-Eleven around Battery street?

Mm, and they’re open twenty-four hours?

Wait, it’s just like ten dollars for the largest size?

Oh there’s another one on Powell?

That evening I became a staunch believer in 7-Eleven pizza.

On a random evening you can find me puffing my way up Powell street, with like two cartons of 7-Eleven pizza in my arms – the largest size of pizza they have.

Sometimes I even get three at once.

The pepperoni pizza is wonderful, the BBQ is okay, and there’s this one that has all sorts of meat stuff ohh.

The hill on Powell is funny.

Sometimes I think about how many calories I could possibly gain from eating three largest-size 7-Eleven pizzas – People think about calories a lot in this place – And I’m pretty convinced I burn pretty much the same amount of calories just getting the pizzas up to my dorm room.


I’m in the “Bread” section of Trader Joe’s.

There’s this thing my American roommate introduced me to.

Cinnamon Raisin bread.

Jesus. Jesus Christ.

That thing. That freaking thing.

I mean, initially I had doubts when he suggested I try out some that he bought.

The bread looked weird and mouldy and damp.

I was like ehhh I don’t know, it looks sketchy, I don’t know….

I took one bite and became a convert.

So yeah, on a random day at Trader Joe’s you’ll probably find me stocking my trolley with a customary loaf of Cinnamon raisin bread.


I’m at the Cereal section.

I’m making up my mind on some options.

A hand touches me from behind, and slowly snakes its way around my waist.

Very surprised, I turn around to see a cheeky face smiling up at me.

Oh heyyy. Hey you.


Image: Somewhere along the Embarcadero.

Lagos: On Dating Apps and Strip Clubs. 3.

“You know, when I was younger I was told that for you to have a good life and be responsible, you need to get married and live with your husband and all that. But now that I’m gaining my own life experience, I’m beginning to see things differently.

There’s this lady I follow on Instagram. She’s living a very good life. She has a son for this guy. The guy is very rich. And so he sends her all the money she needs.

She doesn’t need to work! She only works because she feels like it.

You know, I myself won’t mind that sort of life.”

I’m sitting next to her, listening.

She’s talking about a Lagos Baby Mama.

Baby Mamas are essentially women who secure a grasp on the bank accounts of men they perceive to be wealthy, by getting pregnant for these men.

These pregnancies may or may not be a mutually agreed decision. A good proportion of the time, these women figure out a way to get pregnant despite there being no such agreement.

They get pregnant, give birth, and then are automatically entitled to a proportion of their Baby Daddy’s earnings.

I am at a restaurant in Victoria Island, Lagos.

I am on a date.

I am in-between spoonfuls of Jollof rice, munching and listening, as it dawns on me that I am sitting next to a prospective Baby Mama.

okAY. Now I’m know what I’m looking at. Now I know where I am.

We keep talking. Of course her Baby Mama leanings aren’t solidified yet. She’s just beginning to consider the possibility of toeing that line.

There was a time when I used to think I could change people. Think I could change their minds and give perspective and possibly nudge them in a different direction.

All of that was before life dealt me some very sour cards. Some immensely debilitating and soul-crushing experiences.

Now I just try to get a sense of where someone is headed, and I accept that for what it is.

I am talking to a prospective Baby Mama.

I expect that in a few years she would’ve latched on to the bank account of some guy. Or multiple guys. That’s what I expect.

Now it’s just left to me to decide if I intend to be one of those people.

I keep munching on the Jollof rice.


I am at Sangotedo, Lagos.

I have a date in about an hour.

It’s this lady I met on Tinder. A number of days ago.

She calls me Papi.

Like “Hey Papi”.

I was like Mmm. She seems fun.

I decide to give her a call to know if she’ll soon be on the way.

“Hello?”

“Oh hello.”

We talk for a bit.

She says she just woke up. She doesn’t sound like she’s anything close to getting ready.

I’m a bit surprised. We’ve had this meeting planned for a while. This is strange.

We keep talking.

She sounds different.

She sounds very different. Hesitant. Uncomfortable.

I wonder what’s going on.

We keep talking.

I’m not quite sure what the issue is. I probe a bit.

At some point she says what’s on her mind.

“You see, we need to talk fact. We need to say what’s really happening.

What do you want? Do you want me to come around, we chill, have some food, and after that I go somewhere with you?

But you know then you have to give me a little “Thanks for Coming”. And we have to discuss before I leave here. I need to know what I’m coming out for.”

Oh.

Ohhh.

Now I know what’s going on.

She’s one of those Tinder “Hookup” people.

The year is 2022. In Lagos Nigeria in 2022, “hookup” is a euphemism for prostitution.

A “hookup” in Lagos is a situation where a guy arranges a meeting with a lady – a meeting where they intend to have sex. Usually an amount of money is agreed on, prior to the meeting. And usually- no not usually, All the time- the guy is the one who pays for the meeting.

A lot of this happens through dating apps – in fact In Lagos dating apps are really just a platform for prostitutes to find customers. Like, the people who build dating apps would be very surprised to see what people use them for in Nigeria.

Typical Tinder conversations go like this:

“Hello.”

“Hello.”

“How much?”

And they keep going from there.

It is seen as very normal in Lagos. In fact what’s weird is arranging a date with a lady – it could just be a regular date – and not offering to pay her some money.

I find it unthinkably ludicrous, but I honestly have run out of annoyance at it.

These days I don’t even get annoyed – I just see it as something Lagos people do (although I think it’s much more widespread that just Lagos – a good number of places in Nigeria have this going on).

I’m just pissed this evening because I didn’t know she was one the Hookup ones earlier. I wouldn’t have bothered, and our messages would’ve ended around “Hey Papi”.

“Thanks for coming”.

By “Thanks for coming”, she means money. “Thanks for coming” is payment for her “services”.

I should’ve asked. I should’ve freaking asked.

Now I’m going to start asking if they’re Hookup people. There’s no point just wasting time like this.

We end the call.

I begin to think about what to do with the rest of my evening.

Ah, I shouldn’t have wasted all this time making plans with this person.

But there’s no problem. I’ll find something to do.


Image: Lunch (Jollof rice) at La Campagne Tropicana beach resort in Lagos.


This post is one in a Series. The other pieces in the Series can be accessed here.

Kaleidoscope. 2.

We’re at City Lights bookstore.

The school is having some sort of an event.

It’s like poetry and stuff.

We’re upstairs – up the wooden staircase paved with historical pictures framed on the wall.

Collette is reading a poem she wrote.

Something about kissing boys in Chinatown.

In my head I’m just thinking:

Wait, people have started kissing already? I thought we all just got here? I thought we were all still trying to make sense of this new environment? Trying to find our bearings in this San Francisco place?

Kissing? In Chinatown?? What??

I’m lying on the floor. It’s a wooden floor. The entire room is made of wood I think. Brown shiny lush-looking wood. It feels so nice to lie on.

I’m the only one lying on the floor. Everyone else is sitting on something. I’m not really bothered. It feels nice. Plus I don’t think anyone finds it weird.

I’m talking with one of the asian classmates. She’s Chinese. 

Her name starts with an X. A number of female Chinese classmates have names starting with “X”s. In fact one has like three “X”s in her name.

I don’t get it. It’s strange. They have names like “XinXueXie”. Like what?

Another thing that’s strange is that people find my own name weird. Especially the full name.

There’s this Isreali-American guy that jokingly pronounces my full name as “Obolowolomolo…”.

Haha. Hahaha.

I’m talking with the female Chinese classmate whose name starts with an X. We talk about literature for a bit. She says Jack Kerouac is her favourite writer right now.

I say mm interesting. I don’t know too much about Jack Kerouac. I read about him briefly on Wikipedia sometime ago, but that was it.

The room is aglow with warm yellow electric lights. There’s some poetry in the air. Poetry with the mischievous sexual charge of adventurous teenage girls.

This is very exciting.


I am in an ice cream shop along Adalbertstrasse.

There is a lot of pink in the shop.

There is a giant ice-cream cone on one side of the room.

I think there is also a giant ice-cream man somewhere.

I am across a small table from Ivan.

We’re having ice cream.

Ivan is saying something.

All I can think in my head right now is how weird his face looks.

His face doesn’t look weird because it’s weird. Ivan’s face isn’t weird.

His face looks weird to me because I haven’t looked at anyone’s face this closely in a long time.

I am just realising that.

His face looks weird to me because he is not my girlfriend. Apparently I haven’t looked at anyone else’s face up close in a while.

And so this feels surreal. It’s almost like my brain is expecting to see something different, and so it’s disorienting and trippy looking at these unfamiliar lips moving in an unfamiliar manner on this unfamiliar face.

I feel like I am in a dream.


I am at the Burgermeister at Kottbusser Tor. I am getting a burger.

There’s this guy on the queue. I think he looks interesting.

I tap him on the shoulder or something. Something to get his attention.

He turns around.

I mention that I think he looks like Idris Elba.

He laughs and blushes.

I ask if that’s something people generally tell him. He says not really.

We talk for a bit. I get my burger.

I ask if he wants to go sit somewhere and have a chat.

He says he’d love to, but his girlfriend is waiting outside.

Of course. There has to be a girlfriend somewhere that’ll ruin everything.

I say okay.

He turns towards the door.

Seemed like a cool guy.


I am on the U-Bahn.

I am headed to Krumme Lanke.

I’m not sure what exactly I was searching for online, but I learnt about this cool lake and I felt it would be great to go for a swim.

It’s late autumn and the water is going to be pretty cold, but I’m not thinking about all that now. I just need to land there.

There’s a couple sitting opposite me in the train. They look like they’re in their late forties or something.

They have smiles on their faces.

They look very happy.

I ask if I can take a picture.

They say sure.

They seem like such nice people.


There was this day.

I had just left an event I attended with my girlfriend. I think it was the Maker Faire.

We were on this bridge not far from Station Berlin – the location of the event. This bridge that arched over a river or something.

Arguing.

I’m not sure what we were arguing about.

I don’t think there was any actual thing to argue about – it felt like she just invented a reason to pick a fight. Concocted an argument out of thin air and began saying things I had to get annoyed at.

So there we were. Arguing on this bridge over a river.

And there was this couple walking by. This old German couple.

In that moment I was wondering what was going through their minds as they passed by us arguing.

I was wondering if there was possibly some profound relationship wisdom I could extract from their brains as they walked by.

Hm.


I visited City Lights bookstore this evening.

It was really nice. Warm glowing ambience. And lovely woodwork. Very lovely woodwork.

I walked through the different shelves and categories of books.

I think I read an entire book on Banksy while I was there.

I bought a book.

I have some money now.

Well not that much money, but I’ve been working more hours and earning more internship money during the summer holiday so I have more spare funds.

I bought a book written by China Achebe. “Girls at War”.

It’s not a very large book. It’s pretty light.

I’ll take the time to go through it later.

I also bought some stuff at Chinatown.

I bought some pillows.

And I bought this strange wooden thing with rolling spikey stuff that tickle the underneath of your feet as you roll them over the spikes.

It feels really nice.


I am on the U-Bahn.

I am headed somewhere.

Autograf’s Future Soup is playing through my headphones.

I recently put a picture up on my Instagram. A picture of the sign that had the name of a station – an U-Bahn station.

The caption was something – some allusion to Schrodinger’s cat.

These days I’m not even comfortable making Physics puns on social media.

I’m worried one of my classmates’ll see my posts and be like:

“Why is this guy pretending to know Physics on Instagram? He’s failing in class!! He’s failing woefully!!”

I don’t understand anything anymore.

Nothing makes any sense.

Nothing makes any sense at all.

There’s this book we’re reading in Physics class. Something about this guy on some adventure in some quantum world. There’s something about a leopard that’s unusually long due to some strange quantum phenomenon. Something like that. Something about wavelengths and wavefunctions or something.

I’ve been thinking about that and how one could possibly draw an analogue to the shutter speed of a camera. Taking a picture of a moving leopard with a low shutter speed could give an effect similar to the strange quantum phenomenon that lengthens the fictional leopard.

I wonder what parallels exist between the mathematical underpinnings of both scenarios.

I wonder.

I don’t know what to do with the idea.

I don’t know where to put it.

These days there are a lot of things I don’t know where to put.

I can’t put it in a Physics assignment, that’s for sure. The last time I tried something like that, the Physics professor said it was “outside the scope of the class”.

These days practically everything I’m interested in is “outside the scope of class”.

Nothing makes any sense.

Nothing makes any sense at all.


I’m somewhere in Berlin.

I’ve been skateboarding around, practicing ollieing up curbs.

I think Aesop Rock is playing in my headphones. Or Chiddybang.

There’s a playground close by.

I head towards it.

There’s sand, there are things to climb on, and there are swings.

I sit on one of the swings, contemplating life and rocking a little from front to back.

A woman just arrived at the playground.

I think she came to pick up one of the kids or something.

She looks sternly at me and says I shouldn’t be on the swing. That the swings are for kids.

Says I should not be using kid’s swings.

She’s talking to me so sternly.

I don’t understand why she’s being so stern.

I back away from the swing.

I’m thinking about the implications of her words.

Am I an adult? Is that what this means? Am I a grown up? Is that the meaning of all of this?

Have I now gotten to the point in life where I look completely out-of-place in a playground?

What does all of this mean?

As I head away from the playground, skateboard in hand-  I think to myself, No. No I am not an adult. I am not an adult please, I’m a baby. I’m a freaking baby, I’m a kid. I’m a kid please.

I am not at all ready to begin to think about the heavy connotation of responsibility and pivotal life decisions that comes with “adulthood”.

I am not ready for any of that at all.


Image: Upstairs at City Lights bookstore in San Francisco.


This post is one in a series. The other pieces in the Series can be accessed here.

Sal Island, Cape Verde: A Homosexual Brushing.

It’s a random afternoon.

I’m walking around Santa Maria. I’m going somewhere.

I’m walking by Ocean Cafe – a really cool bar/restaurant/lodging space in front of the small city square, close to the beach.

Someone calls out to me.

I turn around to look at him.

Ah. It’s this guy.

It’s this guy – some Spanish speaking guy. He looks like he’s in his late fifties- or maybe he’s older, I’m not quite sure.

Every now and then we come across each other, and he’s always trying to start up a conversation somehow.

He’s from the Canary Islands I think. He speaks Spanish.

I don’t speak Spanish. I’ve been learning a little Portuguese-esque here and there, from my interactions with Cape Verdean natives in their Creole version of the language.

I’ve realized Spanish and Portuguese are actually very similar. Normally I would expect to still understand this Canarias guy somewhat, but his unfamiliar accent adds a-whole-nother dimension to his speech.

It feels like he’s talking very quickly, and so I never understand a word of anything he’s saying.

There was this day he invited me to join him at a table where I think he was having a drink. He looked very frustrated.

“Tralsjo su jasnxihsbal ciuhnxah fawusknfbahb kxaiusn,abx hkjknfxalwjk xbk aiskgjxfla!”

He ranted, waving his arms about in the air.

In my head I was like Okay, from the look of things there’s an issue. Okay.

I just sat there and tried to be empathetic.


Now I’ve come across him again.

One of his knees is in a brace. And he walks with a limp. I’ve always known him like that.

He also looks frustrated again today. He walks up to me and begins to utter some more utterly unintelligible sounds.

At some point he offers for me to come along with him. Says I look very untidy. Says I should come spend some time at his apartment.

I can make out that much from what he’s saying.

I say okay.

The past number of months have been me seriously thinking about my life. I’m currently on a gap year from college with practically no money. My intention is to utilize the ample time and space I have right now, to figure out my life direction.

My problem right now isn’t money – not really.

If I put in some effort I could probably get a job working hospitality somewhere on the island. Job in a hotel or something. I speak English, and that’s valuable here because you’ve got a good number of English-speaking tourists in a country that speaks primarily Portuguese (Creole).

But that’s not my issue. Working a job in hospitality somewhere and having enough financial resources to procure access to the usual living amenities – “Condição” as Cape Verdeans would call it – That has absolutely no effect on the higher-order ambiguity of overarching life direction that constitutes the existential quagmire I’m currently embroiled in.

What I need right now is time. Time time time time time.

Hygiene hasn’t exactly been on top of my priority list for a while.

So yeah. I probably look very untidy. He most likely has a point.

I go along with him. The Canarias guy.


We’re at the building where he stays.

It’s actually right behind the defunct hotel where I live.

The building where I live used to be a hotel owned by an airline. “Aeroflot” or something. Their air crew and flight passengers used to lodge there during stopovers, from what I heard. At some point the airline ran into some sort of a disagreement with the Cape Verdean government, and they were dispossessed of the hotel – something like that.

The building is fine – the location is actually great, it’s like 10 – 15 metres from the beach.

The studio apartment where I stay, has a super cool beachfront view.

The only issue is amenities. The building isn’t actively maintained by the government, and so that means there’s no electricity, running water, etc.

Over the past year I’ve really begun to deconstruct all of the different components that constitute living spaces. Usually when you rent out a living space, it’s really just this black-box that you procure access to, with money. It’s not exactly clear how all of the different components of the living experience, relate in a nuanced way to the money you just paid.

At Hotel Aeroflot I’ve got shelter, and I’ve got privacy. I’ve also got a super-cool view. I’ve got no security though. Those pesky Cape Verdean neighbours keep burgling the apartment every now and then – it’s so frustrating.

Electricity and money are the things that make it necessary for me to leave the apartment on a frequent basis.


We’re at the building where the Canarias guy stays.

We walk by the security guard. He’s a tall, muscular and very-dark-skinned Senegalese guy. I know him. Well, kind of. We have lunch together every now and then at Nongo’s place.

Nongo is a Senegalese artist who works from a studio apartment at Hotel Aeroflot. He makes interesting artwork of dancers I think, and silhouettes of people with wide straw hats paddling on canoes against the backdrop of idyllic sunsets.

We’re on the same hotel floor.

He’s got a group of like six people who work with him on the art. They make the pieces with paint, brushes and sand somehow. They use a good amount of sand.

In addition to working on the art, I believe Nongo manages the relationships with his retailers and stuff, who eventually sell the artwork to tourists on the island.

We met for the first time, on some random day. I was extremely hungry. I had absolutely nothing to eat. I was sitting down in front of the apartment where I stay, staring listlessly at the beach ahead. I was probably on the verge of dropping dead or something. Spending my last moments as a sentient instance of the Homo Sapiens species, staring at the glistening crystal-blue beach ahead of me – Praia Antonio Souza.

Wonderful. Because I can eat the beach.

Nongo was walking by. He could probably tell I was hungry somehow.

At some point he invited me to come join him and his artisans for lunch.

“Come come! Comé! Comida! Mangé mangé!”

He made gestures with his hand – moving his hand towards his mouth.

I gladly obliged. With the final quotient of energy left in my body, I lifted myself up to my feet.

They were having Chebujeri – it’s a Senegalese dish of rice cooked in spicy tomato sauce. They had seasoned cabbage and fish and all sorts of good stuff. Apparently there are a number of Senegalese spots in Santa Maria that make traditional Senegalese food for the community here.

Chebujeri is similar to Jollof rice – a dish found in a number of West African countries. Like Nigeria.

That was a wonderful afternoon. That was an immensely wonderful afternoon. Nongo is such a great guy.


We’re at the building where the Canarias guy stays.

We just walked by the tall muscular Senegalese security guard.

He also works security at Odjo D’Agua hotel. Odjo D’Agua is a beachfront four-star hotel about five minutes away from here.

There was this day he saw me at Odjo D’Agua. Having something to eat and using the internet. I was with my computer. It’s a 15″ MacBook Pro I bought in San Francisco.

I imagine it was an astounding sight. There I was, sitting at a four-star hotel with a computer that was worth like a few thousand dollars (or something), but I was frequently in situations where I had no food to eat.

I was eating food at this really-nice hotel not because I had ample money, but because I needed a reason to spend as much as time as I could using their wonderful Wifi network.

That Odjo D’Agua wifi is something else.

I imagine it was extremely confusing for him. The Senegalese security guy. I imagine it was.

Honestly it’s confusing for me too. I myself don’t understand my life.

The next time I was at Nongo’s place for lunch, I could hear a conversation erupt between the security guy and everyone else the moment I left.

He was about to regale them with tales of me and my expensive computer.

As I walked away, I could hear him yell “Original!” amidst some other things he said in Wolof.


We’re at the Canarias guy’s apartment.

It’s an interesting space. It’s on the topmost floor of like a four-storey building. With an interesting view of the beach.

I would probably have found the apartment much more awe-inspiring if I didn’t live in the building right in front. With an even closer view of the beach.

We talk for a bit. He says he used to be a journalist. He’s retired now.

He shows me a couple of newspapers and stuff.

I say Hm interesting, interesting stuff.

At some point he suggests I should go take a shower.

I oblige. I could definitely use a warm shower right now. There’s no hot water at Hotel Aeroflot.


I’m in the shower. Covered in lather.

At some point the Canarias guy walks in.

I’m not sure what he’s doing.

Like dude I’m naked, can’t you wait till I’m done.

I’m not too bothered by it though. I spent about four and half of my six years of high school in Nigeria, in boarding school. In the male hostel I frequently had to take baths in an open space with tens of other flailing, naked, lather-covered boys.

And so I’m not entirely uncomfortable being naked around guys. Not really.

I keep washing my body.

At some point I feel a hand trying to slither through my legs.

HAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!

WHAT IS THATTTT?????

I open my eyes.

MISTER CANARIAS!!!!!

CANARIAS GUYYYY!!!!

AHHHH SO THIS IS WHY YOU WERE PERSISTENTLY INVITING ME OVER TO YOUR APARTMENT!!!!

AAHHHHH!!!

OHHH SO YOUR PLAN ALL THIS WHILE HAS BEEN TO GET ME NAKED IN YOUR BATHROOM!!!!!

Ahhhhh, now I get it. Now I get it!

I express to him that I’m not homosexual, and that I’m not up for any of this.

He tries to persist.

I express to him some more that I’m not interested.

I’m careful not to physically touch him.

He’s this very frail-looking guy limping about in his knee brace.

I can touch him ever so slightly, and he’ll end up falling on the floor and hitting his head on something.

I’m not interested in being the guy who killed a Spanish tourist in Cape Verde. I’m still debating with Cape Verdean law enforcement on the validity of my visa-free stay in this place.

I don’t want problems please.

I verbally express some more that I’m not interested in his current intentions.

I finish up my bath and quickly head out of Mister Canarias‘ bathroom.


Image: In the bathroom mirror of the Hotel Aeroflot studio apartment.

San Francisco: Night out Clubbing at Ruby Skye.

The first club I visited in San Francisco, was Club X. Someone in the class mentioned on our Facebook group that they were having an event. And I think it was free for people with student IDs. It was either free, or at a significant discount.

Our student ID cards weren’t actually ready at the time. We all had our pictures taken a while back, but were yet to receive our ID cards.

The Facebook post mentioned however, that there was a way to join the event guest list. So you could be eligible for the discount/free entry even without a student ID.

All you had to do was to go comment your name on a post on Club X’s Facebook page or something like that.

And so people began to comment their names. We were all very excited.

Mm Clubbing, Mm Club X, Mm let’s go Mm


On the night of the event, it was like we were going for a meeting with school’s founder at the HQ. We were so many.

We were like thirty. Or more. Trooping along the sidewalk and chatting excitedly, our eyes alight with anticipation.

Most of us were new to San Francisco. A lot of us were new to the USA. And so that event provided an interesting opportunity to venture out into the city on our own, while still being surrounded by a group of people within which you generally felt safe.

The event was also 18+ which was great, because very few people in our class were 21 years or older. And so all 21+ events were out of our reach. Well that was unless you had a fake ID.

Club X was fun. Club X was very fun.

Clubbing at Club X became something of a regular thing over time.

At some point, some classmates began to form a negative impression of the club. They would talk about it on the group. Say it was rowdy or disorganized or not very classy, or some other concern that never resonated with me.


People generally go out for events in smaller groups now. SF is less unfamiliar and so people are more comfortable going out on their own. I myself have gradually been curating my personal algorithm for finding events in San Francisco. Eventbrite is generally where it’s at. There’s usually always something of interest happening on Eventbrite, on any given day. Given that, the question then involves which events you’re the most interested in.

Ruby Skye is a cool club people have been talking about. They generally speak very highly of it. Practically all of their events are 21+ though. So it seems to be something people just fantasize about from a distance.

I was scrolling through their website the other day. I don’t even know how I landed there, or what I was looking for.

At some point I saw something about an upcoming event. 18+.

Sorry what? Eighteen what did you just say?

I looked through it more carefully.

Yes. Yes it was an 18+ event.

Ohohohoho

I put a post up on the class’s Facebook group. A bunch of people were super stoked about it. We began to make plans. I think there was like a party Facebook Messenger group or something. We used that to correspond in more detail.

Seemed like something great was up ahead.



We’re in the club.

We’re about ten people from school.

Ruby Skye is super cool. It’s very big and spacious.

We’re dancing and having fun.

The girls go to the bathroom like every ten minutes. I have absolutely no idea what they’re always going to do in the bathroom.

And they go collectively. Like all of a sudden four girls are like, we need to go use the bathroom.

Like, do all of your bladders have synchronised timers or something- I don’t understand.


I just met this guy. He says he’s Australian. He’s a good-looking guy. Seems fun.

At some point I introduce him to one of the female classmates. She’s from Eastern Europe. They look like they might hit it off.

We keep dancing. Dancing and chatting, and there’s some flirting going around too.

The girl from Eastern Europe is back. Doesn’t seem like she and Australian guy really got something going.

We’re dancing. The room is generally very energetic. There are flashing lights and music, and every now end then there’s a super stimulating “beat drop” that just completely revs the energy level of the hall.

The Eastern European classmate looks like she’s interested in dancing up-close with me.

I don’t pay her body language any significant attention. I don’t have the energy for ambivalent and confusing signals right now.

We spent some time together over the winter break.

I used to have something of a crush on her.

We used to watch “How to Get Away with Murder” in my room. Watching steamy sex scenes of Annalise Keating and the tall muscular detective guy.

The guy was weird. Time and time again Annalise would do things to ruin his life. He lost job, his reputation was ruined, but yet he still kept indulging her- I was like dude the fuck is your problem, what is wrong with you, her own life is good- you’re the one who keeps getting in trouble- what is your problem you this guyyy.

One of those nights I indicated an interest in taking things further- I wasn’t exactly interested in spending time alone with a pretty girl in a dark room, and all we’d do would be to watch other people have sex.

She said she want interested in taking things beyond platonic movie watching.

Okay.

Okay.

I didn’t offer to have her over for movies after that night. I needed to reorder my life priorities.


Now she’s sending all of these confusing signals my way.

I don’t have the energy for this. She had her chance.


I’m at a different end of the club.

The view of the stage is different from here, mm.

Two girls walk up to me.

We talk for a bit.

At some point one is like:

“So, my friend”, she points to her African-American friend.

“She has been feeling a bit shy. And she told me she would be more comfortable dancing with someone who’s similar to her. Like racially.”

Hm.

I don’t understand what’s going on, but I don’t intend to protest.

There’s no problem shy African-American girl- I’ll be your black guy. I’ll be your safety-exuding black guy, there’s no problem.

We begin to dance.

All of a sudden she’s not so shy anymore.

In just a few seconds she went from demure-looking girl to vigorous hip-twister.

Oh she’s comfortable alright.

She’s definitely comfortable. This has to be what a mind at ease looks like.

I’m not complaining.

I’m not complaining at all.


Image: View of the Sutro Tower from somewhere. Either Corona Heights or Potrero Hill.

California Street: A Psychoactive Gift On The Fire Escape.

There’s this musician I’ve been listening to recently. A rapper.

His name is Tumi. I think his music is cool.

He’s from South Africa.

I’ve had his “I’m killing” song on replay for a while now. The song has some seriously dope vibes.

The whole Spotify thing is still somewhat surreal to me. Streaming songs on repeat.

That is something I probably would’ve never done about a year ago.

In Nigeria I always had to conserve my internet subscription. Internet subscriptions cost money, and so if I planned to listen to a song more than once, it made more sense to just download it.

But that’s not the case here in San Francisco.

There’s wifi everywhere. Our college dorms have super fast wifi and that’s just wonderful, but even out in the city free wifi is not hard to find.

That sort of access to the internet makes you see things differently.

Now if feels like my computer is really just a screen, a keyboard, and maybe some RAM.

And the entire internet is my hard drive.

Because you can access files on the internet so quickly- it’s almost like they were already on your computer.

I find all that really interesting to think about.


My roommate isn’t around. I’ve got the room to myself this evening.

I think I have some weed in one of my drawers.

A while back this Israeli guy was hanging out at the dorms. I think he was couchsurfing with an Israeli classmate or something.

I went to the patio downstairs to do something, and we crossed paths there. We got talking.

His first name was Roy.

His last name was literally something from the Bible. Like, the name of some fire-bending prophet or something.

People in Nigeria are generally very religious and so names from the Christian bible are very common. But physically meeting an Israeli guy with a Bible name made me see Bible characters as being much less otherworldly.

Like, these people in the bible were human beings. That clairvoyant prophet I’ve been hearing about in church since I was a baby, was just like this guy that’s smoking weed across the table from me.

They were all human beings, not surreal mystical characters existing on some esoteric metaphysical plane.

It felt like a very profound realisation and awareness.


Roy said he spent like the past few months working at a weed farm.

Sorry, a what?

A weed what?

I thought that was super interesting. I had never heard anything like that before.

He offered me some weed.

I took some time to weigh the situation.

I had class the next morning, and I didn’t want to be disoriented from the weed or anything.

I probably thought: I don’t know, I’m probably enough of an unserious student already. I don’t think I should aggravate my situation even more with some impromptu weed.

But he seemed like a really cool guy, and I felt like I would enjoy spending time with him.

I obliged.


We spent the next few hours smoking different strains of weed and talking about a bunch of different random stuff.

We talked about surfing, and about his time in the Israeli army.

He said the stress levels in the Israeli army could get very high. And that people relieved the stress in primarily two ways. Jerking off and fucking.

We talked about Fela Kuti.

Everybody knows Fela Kuti.

With a lot of people I meet randomly, whenever they hear I’m from Nigeria, usually Fela Kuti comes up in the conversation somehow.

Like, everybody knows this Fela Kuti guy.

At some point Roy would open up another small weed container and be like “This one. This one makes you laugh a lot. This one makes you laugh for no reason at all”, and he’d proceed to roll it into a joint.

It was a super interesting evening.


Surprisingly I did pretty well in class the next morning. It was a Formal Analysis class, and during my pre-class preparation I sort of independently came upon the concept known as “regression to the mean”.

I think it was “regression to the mean”. Some concept in Statistics.

I mentioned it in the course of the class, and was surprised to learn that it was an actual thing. Like, an actual statistical phenomenon.

That was really interesting.

Hm. Maybe I should smoke more weed.

Hm. Or maybe not.

Hm.


Tumi’s “I’m Killing” is still playing on Spotify.

Earlier in the day, I was playing the song on loudspeaker while I walked to the bathroom for a shower.

A classmate was walking by and she started nodding to the music and smiling at me.

I felt very good about that. Very very good.

I’ve had a crush on her for a while. But she doesn’t pay much attention to me. Or at least I don’t think she does.

She has a boyfriend. Some guy like that. Also a classmate. I’ve got mixed feelings about him, but generally I think he’s cool.

He can be kind of an asshole though. Everyone in the class generally agrees on that. He just has this persistent tendency to disturb and rile people up.

Hm, maybe I myself should begin to disturb everyone a lot more.

Maybe I should begin to play my music on loudspeaker, and make sure to bother everyone with it.

Maybe then my crush’ll begin to pay me more attention.

Hm, maybe that’s what makes her like that guy in the first place.

Hm.


Roy- the cool Israeli guy, he left me with some weed.

By “some weed”, I mean like three different strains. Or four even.

I’ve had them in one of my drawers for a while. I haven’t touched any of it since he gave me. That was like over a month ago. I’m not really a weed guy- I just don’t really have the space for it in my life.

But this evening I’m especially free. And I’m kind of in the mood.

I go get some.

I think smoking in the dorms could set off the fire alarm.

I heard something people do, is to head out onto the fire escape to smoke.

I’ve always thought that was kind of exciting, but I’ve never really given it too much thought.

But this evening I seem to have a lot of free time, so I find myself actively contemplating it.


I’m on the fire escape.

The night is dark, and California street is glittering with electric lights.

The air is chilly.

Tumi’s “I’m killing” is still playing in the room.

I light up a joint.

At some point I hear giggles.

I turn my head to the right, to understand what is going on.

There are two smiling faces in the window.

It’s Jakob and Fiona. They’re on the bed in the next room. They both look very excited.

Fiona opens the window and calls out my name. We all spend some time exchanging thrilled pleasantries- They from the warmth of the room next door, and me from my chilly spot on the fire escape.

We laugh and talk for a while. We’re all very excited to interact in this exhilarating situation.

At some point they close the window and return to indulging in their enviable romance.

I proceed to take a few more puffs at my joint, feeling accomplished to have scored some “cool guy” points in the books of two people I admire.


Image: View down California street on a random night.

“Red Wine in Straw”. 1.

I am at a local bar in Espargos.

I’m having some “Super Bock” beer.

The beer bottles in Cape Verde are weird. First they’re small. Like, the regular beer comes in this very small bottle. It’s like a mini-beer. The first time I was served one at a bar, I was very surprised by it.

Hm, why is it so small?

Second, the caps are weird.

Usually glass bottles have these metal caps that you take off with like a bottle opener and stuff. But these ones have this miniature can-tab type mechanism on their metal bottle caps.

So like, imagine opening a soda can. Now imagine doing that on the tiny metal cap of a glass bottle. Exactly.

Like, What?

What?


I’m not quite sure how this evening will go.

I’m with my backpack, which has my essential belongings. All my belongings really. I don’t have so much stuff. Oh and then there’s the small propane cylinder. The smallest-sized type. I use that to cook. It’s the only thing I have, which doesn’t fit into the backpack.

I decided to move from the space where I stay at Santa Maria. I heard Mohammed recently got a comfy space in Espargos. I don’t exactly know how comfy, but I heard and was curious. And so I figured I might as well also give Espargos a shot. Plus, it’s exhilarating just packing your things and heading out, not sure how things are going to end up. I think it’s really more that, than anything else.

I had to return Toure’s white keg.

Toure is my next-door neighbour. Toure and Camara. They are both from Guinea Conakry. Camara has a smallish stature, and a relatively high-pitched voice. I think he works security somewhere, but I’m not entirely sure. Probably at one of the hotels. Practically everyone in Santa Maria works at the hotels. Or at least they work in hospitality somehow.

Camara doesn’t speak so much English. He’s primarily proficient in French. French is Guinea Conakry’s lingua franca, being one of the countries in French West Africa.

Due to the language barrier, Camara and I don’t exchange too many actual words. We interact every now and then, and there’s a lot of sign and body language.

He says a lot of “Cool ahn?”

Which is like, “That’s cool right?”

He pronounces the “Cool” like “Kul”. The “K” is very pronounced, and the “u” is very short. I think it’s amusing.

Toure is considerably taller than Camara. He has a somewhat muscular build. He speaks more English. We talk.

Haha, Toure is a cool guy.

He sells souvenirs to the tourists at Santa Maria.

We talk about travel, and our different countries of origin. We talk about Europe. He has dreams of immigrating to Europe. They all do. Everybody here. Every one of my neighbours. A lot of them see their time in Cape Verde as hopefully being a stopover between Africa and Europe.

For some reason, my own thinking is the other way around. I spent the second half of the previous year in Berlin as a student. I spent the year before that in the USA. And now I’m here in Cape Verde. By choice. To some extent at least.

I have a Nigerian passport, and so travel is very constrained by visas amongst other things. My USA student visa will expire soon. I don’t know if I’ll be resuming studies after this gap year. I don’t think so. I’m anxious about my future and the uncertainty it’s shrouded in, but for some reason I don’t see immigration to the West as the solution to my problems. For some reason.

My French West African neighbours find me odd. Very odd. I speak English. Considerably well. Left to them, I should be a tour guide. I could be making a lot of money from the tourists. I must be immensely stupid for not capitalising on such an opportunity. Practically none of the tourists in Cape Verde speak French as a first language. And so this makes communication strained for the guys who primarily speak French.

They honestly find my stupidity inestimable. Left to them, I should go find a sixty year old German woman who’ll be impressed with how hard I can fuck her, and hope and pray to Allah that she decides to take me back to Germany with her. That is exactly what I would do if I was smart.

If I wasn’t in such an uncertain situation, I would’ve found that suggestion unthinkably hilarious. However given the anxieties of my position, I just find it infuriating. And a little scary.


A while back Toure was telling me about his girlfriend. She was from Nigeria. She worked in a shop somewhere in Santa Maria. She had just brought him some homemade lunch that afternoon.

Mayowa you see, this girl, she like me so much.

In his deep voice, and with his smiling face.

Every time always calling me. Always say Toure Toure, how are you, why you no come see me since, she like me so much.

And then he told me about his girlfriend before that. Also from Nigeria.

You see, I just get the luck with the Nigerian women you know.

Hahahahaha. Toure Toure!


I had to return Toure’s white plastic keg. He gave it to me when I needed a container to store drinking water. Every now and then I would go get it filled with water for about a hundred escudos at the funtunario.

The funtunario is really just a bunch of taps with running water, adjacent to the clothing market. I don’t know why people refer to it by such a fancy-sounding name.


I am still at the local bar in Espargos. Drinking Strela mini-beer.

There’s this swing-set thing outside. Like a mini playground. I spent some time hanging out there.

I am now in conversation with someone. Some guy. A Cape Verdean. We’re discussing. At some point we talk about what I’m doing in Espargos. I mention that I’m on a journey from Santa Maria. And that I’ve got my belongings in my backpack. We talk some more. At some point he offers to host me for the night.

Don’t worry. Don’t worry. You can stay in my house. You come to my house to sleep. Don’t worry.

He’s very kind. He’s a very cheerful guy, laughing and exchanging banter with the waitress and the other people at the bar.

I’m touched by his offer.

I feel like Cape Verdeans can be very very generous. Like, very very. And gradually I’ve been getting accustomed to their initially surprising generosity and welcoming nature.

I say okay. I take my time to express appreciation.

We keep talking and chilling.

Hm. It seems like a roof over my head for the night is sorted out at this point.


Image: Somewhere on the streets of Santa Maria. A bunch of people betting money on the outcome of dice rolls.


This post is one in a series. The other pieces in the series can be accessed here.