scattered thoughtlets from random locales whilst on the way home for the holidays:
01:06pm--Sao Tome and Principe
to get from Sao Tome and Principe to Kigali is a ridiculously long three (sometimes 5) day trip. I'm not certain, but I'm pretty sure I can get to new york faster than I get to the other side of the continent. I'm not complaining though, because I'm fully prepared. the ipod and the laptop are fully charged cuz I know that it's going to be all about the long and dreary waits. for example, right now I'm sitting in the departure lounge at the sao tome airport waiting for a flight that has been delayed by two hours. two. hours. of. nothingness. there's a bar, but i haven't eaten and I'd like to be able to board the plane without falling over. and so I'm sitting here listening to the dreamgirls soundtrack (shut up) and trying not to sing along. but, if nothing happens soon…I'm fixin to break into a rousing rendition of 'steppin to the bad side' right about now.
TWO HOURS LATER
de plane! de plane!!
man. they'd better not leave my suitcase behind. *narrows eyes at baggage truck*
10:00am (or so I thought)--Libreville
so to celebrate making it off the island, I decided not to chance random budget accommodations in this strange city, and check myself into a nice business hotel. uh-huh. I am now officially broke. it's insane how expensive this place is, but since I had no where else to go, and no one I know, I decided to stay here. I thought, ok, so it's pricey, at least the price comes with breakfast, wireless, and CNN International. so, I'll just splurge. also, yay for wireless! yeah, except? the wireless is THIRTEEN DOLLARS AN HOUR. the HELL? and the breakfast of juice, coffee, and one pancake was an additional 30 DOLLARS. so, I'm broke. too broke to afford the pretty pretty wireless. and I'm bored as hell waiting to leave this place and go to the airport.
and this is one of the less pricey hotels in this town where clean sheets are guaranteed and I get a free ride to the airport. but I can't ever stay here again. I just blew my hotel budget for my trip home and back, so next time…backpackers hostel it is. I'll just carry my own sheets.
on the news, French aid workers are standing trial in Chad for the kidnapping of 103 children. they were attempting to rescue them from a life of doom and misery by exporting them to France. they claim that these children were refugees. they also claim that they were acting according to international law. now, here's the thing, I studied international law. international human rights law, in particular, and i'm here to tell you: there's no such thing. not in isolation of domestic law, anyway. you can't march into a country, decided that people are being violated or neglected, and then spirit them away on your magic plane to the land of milk and honey. this is why people don't take human rights activists seriously. because of incidents like this. anyway, they decided to circumvent Chad's laws and take these Sudanese orphans away. but…the children are not Sudanese orphans. they're Chadian. and no doubt they have been barely living in awful conditions while the country's leaders continue to doggedly pursue conflict and evade any attempts at stabilization. but they belong to someone. they have parents. they have families. what kind of ridiculous arrogance does it take to just TAKE THEM AWAY. the parents claimed they were tricked, and did not know their children were being evacuated. they thought the NGO was just going to take care of them. and that's another thing, after the whole high-profile mess with Madonna last year, and the recent tabloid-fuel 'controversy' regarding Angelina Jolie' Ethiopian adoption, you would think these organizations—in order to be effective and actually reach their goals—would research local law and find away to help these children that does not involve endangering them, or themselves. but of course, this would mean they would have to respect the people and laws of this poor African state (which is necessary, even when you violently disagree with them), rather than swoop in from their pedestals of superiority and enact a rescue mission.
now that I'm an expatriate living in an incredibly impoverished country, working for an international NGO, I see how it's tempting to use whatever resources you have to FORCE change. I see how you can get caught up in your 'mission' and how you can feel powerless and desperate in the face of lack of democracy, and complete and utter disregard for rule of law. but…no matter how noble your mission is…no matter how many human rights instruments are out there upon which you can rely to back up your action…the fact remains, you can't just impose your way of thinking upon people and think you can get away with it. this incident with the French NGO stems from this neo-colonial, superior, condescending attitude of this need to rescue Africans from themselves, which sickens me. we don't need superheroes with big planes to take our children away to Europe. how the hell does that solve any problem, in the long run? why could they not create a safe-haven for these children where they were? how did they not think that it may be detrimental to these children to remove them—emotionally and mentally—from their families and communitie? I suppose more will come out as the trial progresses. but these are my immediate thoughts on the whole thing.
wait. does that clock say 11:30?? the hell?? i completely forgot about the time zone change. I'm going to be sooo late. ack!
while stuck in traffic on the way to the airport, I realized that the biggest gift given to me by island life is incredible patience. after half an hour in traffic, realizing I was late to check-in, I still did not panic. if this had happened to me a couple of years ago, I would've been near tears out of pure frustration. also, the hotel bus driver took some back road and stopped to pick up his cousin or someone (who wreaked of alcohol already. at 12:30pm) which he totally would not have done if I was one of the white customers of the hotel, but I didn't get pissed. I was all 'ah, what can you do' and turned up the volume on the ipod to drown out the declarations and ramblings of drunk dude.
airport. ok. reason number 342 I hate travelling: the dehumanizing metal detector. oh, it's awful. I just went through the thing about ten times and I swear the woman was about to make me remove my bra and put it through. as if being forced to remove one's shoes isn't gross enough (thanks, shoe bomber guy!). i travel so much, and this happens each time. but I feel just as violated every time. just now the woman took the metal stick thingy and made me put my hands above my head and spread my legs. she barked each order like I was a damn criminal. fuck you, metal detector power-trippin people. and happy holidays!
this lounge is freezing and the duty free shops are tempting me with their shiny prettiness. i'll just keep looking at my hotel bill, though, to remind me that shiny pretty things are no longer available to me after such decadence.
04:08 am--Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
i can't sleep! wide, wide awake. can't wait. will be in Rwanda with the fam and the peeps in 8 more hours. woo hoo!!!
happy holidays, beautiful people!
Currently listening : Make Sure They See My Face