Sal Island, Cape Verde: An Unrealized Tattoo. 1.

We’re at the bar. The defunct bar. The one in front of Hotel Aeroflot.

I’m at the central table, munching on some chicken and engaging in conversation. Tony is talking about something- every so often he walks over to the grill, to tend to the pieces of chicken he’s barbecuing.

The afternoon is bright and sunny, and the weather is great.

As it usually is on Sal island.

Tony is saying something about squid season. He says it’s currently squid season, and that soon some guys’ll be going out to fish for squid in the ocean.

Hm. Sounds interesting.

I imagine squid has a special place in the hearts of Cape Verdean locals. Because amongst other things you generally don’t really need money to access squid meat. You just need to go out and fish, or something.

For me right now- sitting on this wooden bar stool, staring at the crystal blue Atlantic Ocean barely ten metres away from my position here in the shade, squid meat feels especially accessible to me right now.

Like I could walk right into the ocean right now, and straight-up grab some squid.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just hungry.

I probably just need to accompany people on a squid fishing expedition or something, to get some of that calamari in my system.

But stuff like eg sausages? Imported stuff you can only get at the mini-mercados? All that stuff costs money.

And honestly, thinking about anything that requires me to have units of bank-issued currency right now- That- that just gives me a headache.

I’ve got no money.

The sorts of currency I possess, exist in other forms: I’ve got time. I’ve got my hands and legs to walk about and do stuff.

Accessing my needs via these channels – that feels way less stressful than having to think of bank issued currency as a factor intermediating between me my essential life needs.

Hm- You know, I might just go along on that squid-hunting expedition with the people Tony is talking about.

We’re still chatting.

There’s me, Tony, Danny and his wife who are on vacation (from the US, I think), Roberto, and sometimes Romano.

Tony has been friends with Danny and his wife- for like a number of years I think. They visit Cape Verde every now and then, and when that happens they meet up with Tony and co. They’re very nice people. They’re generally the ones bankrolling our supply of barbecued chicken right now.

I can’t complain: I live for free in a studio apartment here at the defunct Hotel Aeroflot. I spend my time generally trying to figure out my next steps in life – me being on a gap year from college in the US and all.

Again, I have no money. These wonderful people periodically set some chicken here up on a grill – about thirty seconds from where I wake up in the morning. They provide food, drinks and much needed company.

I’m not complaining. I’m not complaining at all.

Danny’s wife made fun of me one time. We were through with the chicken- and then not long after, I mentioned that I wanted to head somewhere to do something.

She looked at me and went, “Yeah go ahead. Eat and Run”.

Funny. Very funny. Great wordplay.

But I didn’t find it funny. Not at the time at least. I was actually pretty hurt. It spoke too directly to the reality of my financial situation. I didn’t even notice the wordplay until much later.

Haha. Hahaha. “Eat and Run”. Hah.

I’ve been thinking of getting a tattoo.

The thought has been very pronounced in my mind.

Like an impulse. Not a rushed spur-of-the-moment impulse, no.

It feels like something I absolutely need to do. Like something necessary. Like something vital – something that fulfils some deep-seated psychological need.

I don’t really get it.

It’s like there’s this groove in my personal space of thoughts, that I find myself periodically being sucked into once I’m in its vicinity.


Hm, I need to figure out what to do today. Mohammed says I can get some bread and coffee at the Baye Fall meeting later this evening. I need to go charge my laptop at some point – some documents I need to work on. Tony is saying something interesting about the tourist agencies on — TATTOOOOOOOO

Like this screaming voice that hijacks my thoughts every now and then.

I don’t really understand the feeling.

But I’m not fighting it.

I’ve been thinking about what sort of a tattoo to get.

Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons has really been on my mind over like the past year or so.

I got introduced to it in freshman year of college – in Multimodal Communications class.

It’s supposed to be some sort of abstract art, but with words.

So- similar to how abstract visual art generally doesn’t seem to have obvious denotative suggestions, but rather depends on some sort of mental state/contextual understanding that you project onto it to give it meaning, Tender Buttons does not make sense when you read the literal words in its pages.

It has sentences like “The change in that is that red weakens an hour”.

Sorry, the change in what?

It generally requires you to think about words and the intention behind a sequence of words in a different mosaic-esque sort of way, to make some meaning of it.

Stein’s intention behind the work was to enable the reader “understand without remembering”– something like that. Like you’re reading English words you come across every day, but these words elicit images in your mind that remind you of nothing you’ve ever encountered before.

I think.

Honestly with art sometimes I can’t tell if something is profound and surreal and shockingly non-intuitive, or if the whole thing is a scam and everyone’s just having an “Emperor’s new clothes” effect.

Regardless, there’s a specific line from the book that has been resonating in my thoughts since Berlin.

“All this and not ordinary, not unordered in not resembling. The difference is spreading.”

It has honestly felt like some sort of a spiritual mantra to me in recent times. Like a bible verse I clutch tightly to and build my life around, because it makes me feel safe.

That’s what that has been like.

I’ve been thinking of getting that as a tattoo. Around my arm somehow.

I’m still trying to figure out how to do it exactly.


Image: Sal Island. Hitching a ride to Santa Maria with two UK tourist guys on the hood of their quad bike.

Psych Ward Diaries. 01.

The first episode of this series is available here: Psych Ward Diaries. 00.

“I like Yemi a lot. I feel like we are going to be lifetime friends.”

I feel betrayed.

Andrew has just betrayed me.

Yemi is the guy with the sleeve tattoos.

Andrew is another guy.

He was brought in a number of days ago. Sedated as usual, arms hanging limply by his sides as the nurses carried his unconscious body into the ward.

I liked his boots. They looked kinda goth-ey. Had some small metal spike-looking things on them. I thought they were cool.

They brought him into the room where I was staying.

Cool, now all I have to do is wait for the guy with cool boots to wake up, so we can chat.

“….because am a separatist….”


This guy has just dropped a word.


I am talking with Andrew. He recently woke up.

As we keep chatting, I infer that “separatist” is along the same lines as “subversive” and stuff.


We keep talking.

He used to work for Chevron.

Nigeria’s GDP is predominantly a function of crude oil exports. This means people who work in Oil companies are a huge deal.

In my final year of high school, there was a lot of hype about studying Petrochemical Engineering. It appeared to be a straightforward path to working at an Oil Company, and getting paid a desirably overwhelming monthly salary.

And so of course I’m interested in talking with this guy who used to work at Chevron. I want to know what life is like for these Oil Company people.

I mean- I recently spent some time living in Silicon Valley, so Oil company salaries probably do not seem as obscene to me as they did when I was in high school. Regardless I’m curious to know what the Oil company life is like.

We keep talking.

He says at some point there was some sort of an issue in the organisation. No one else seemed to be bothered by it, so he flew to the international headquarters to notify the officials there.


We keep talking.

He says there was this day he felt led in his spirit to give out his MacBook. He walked into a park and dropped a bag containing his wiped computer along with the charger, on a bench. Said it would be a blessing to whoever came across it that day.


I am feeling this guy.

We keep talking.

Every once in a while we touch on a topic that makes us laugh and get very excited. Excitement is a very rare and precious feeling when you’re in a psychiatric facility with nowhere to go and nothing to do, so I attempt to keep mental bookmarks of these topics we find mutually exciting. So we can revisit them later when we feel like having a laugh. Like in-between-flight layovers and the different ways of ingesting crack and Lombard street in San Francisco.

Andrew has just betrayed me.

Yesterday we chatted until pretty late in the night.

He told me about how he quit his pretty well-paying job at Chevron to embark on an entrepreneurial venture. Says his severance package was immense. Says he has no idea when he’s ever going to finish spending the money.

Says he has just been living on the interest for the past year. The actual funds are untouched.


I need some money to fuel an AI endeavour I have been working on for a while. I’m thinking maybe I could pitch the idea to him at some point. Financial support is needed. Financial support is very needed.

He told me about his meeting with Robert Kiyosaki. The “Rich Dad Poor Dad” guy.

Hmm. I remember reading the book some months after finishing high school. I later heard the guy went bankrupt.

I ask Andrew what he thought of that. How that affects the veracity of his perspectives on wealth acquisition.

Andrew essentially says the disparity between Kiyosaki’s experienced financial-statuses gives him breadth of perspective, which makes his insights more valuable than those of someone who has known only success.


This guy. This Andrew guy.

We keep talking.

He talks about his experience under Kiyosaki’s mentorship.

He was provided with guidance on some E-Commerce endeavours.

He purchased Callus Removers from, and forwarded them to some sort of storage space he procured in the USA.

The storage space served as a warehouse from which he delivered to customers ordering for his Callus Removers on Amazon.

The price difference between the Callus removers on Amazon and on AliBaba, was very significant. He was making steady, substantial profit.

He told me about how when the money began flowing into his account, he began to smile and sing appreciative songs of praise to his Almighty God, because life was taking an interesting turn.

Hmm. I keep listening.

We talk about his young daughter, and his floundering marriage. There are talks of divorce. He is sad and conflicted and worried. Does not know how all of it will turn out. Sometimes he seems certain divorce is the best mutual decision. At other times he’s not so sure.

Andrew has just betrayed me.

He met Yemi this morning. Yemi- the tattoo guy.

They had a brief chat over table tennis.

He just came back into the room to communicate his excitement to me.

“I like Yemi a lot. I feel like we are going to be lifetime friends.”

Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ, Andrew.

You just talked with him for like ten minutes.

Ten minutes! Ten minutes Andrew!

We’ve been talking for days now!

What about all of our late night discussions and hearty laughter?

What of our mutual excitement over the different methods of crack ingestion?

What of Lombard street in San Francisco!

Jesus Christ, I thought we were close?!

I thought we had a special bond?

Now you go talk with this guy, for ten minutes, and all of a sudden you want to be lifetime friends with him?

Lifetime friends?

Jesus Christ Andrew, Jesus Christ.

You’ve never given me a personal compliment anywhere close to being that nice!

Lifetime friends?!

My God.

My God, Andrew, My God.

Andrew has just betrayed me.