Are You Experienced Savalou Benin West Africa Friday, September 22, 2006
Sitting in a room in Hampi, India, laughing until I made so much noise, I thought the neighbors would hear. Nothing was better than reading this book by William Sutcliffe about India while immersed in India; the funny revelations of my day unfolding were perfect. It described my life, and if the Yoga teacher did not bang some white girl then who would, writers sometimes make fiction too real.
I learn, and still learn about travel from this book, I think, am I experienced and the answer is a big fat, NO. I have zero experience in travel, I know nothing, I only know today, then tomorrow. I cannot tell anyone how to travel, because nobody listens. They must travel, to say, I am experienced in Africa, South America, Thailand of wherever they want to say, I am experienced. Are you experience in India, which makes me nervous just to know that…
Experience in West Africa?
I am thinking, what the backpacker needs is a one day prep course in how to fend off the - I want money group - then a meandering discussion about how to be Macho in a Macho Land.
I am becoming sure each day the Cote D’Ivoire Visa Entente with a Ghana Topping circle path is a perfect way to taste West Africa; it is an easy circle of fun and games.
The problem, - Are you experienced? -
Can you look at a full size package, a giant of a person, a big adult, not a child and say? - NON -
Can you somehow learn to say, - NON -
Or surely you will learn to hate the West African people. I am learning how to say, - NON -
French for NO.
I am learning slowly, the difference between NON and maybe, a maybe opens the door, a NON, is NO, with a push, they have the No of the book - Are You Experienced -
In the book, Girl learns from the older experienced how to be hard with the beggars. It is lesson that needs to be learned, however learning to be hard is a lesson that is a no-way out lesson. There is a one-way path down a road to becoming jaded, jaded to the point you cannot reverse the cycle. I see this in myself, I do not care about beggars, I accept them, I know them, I see them, but beggars are normal on the third rock from the sun. 90 percent of the planet has people who do not want to work, call it welfare, call it the dole, call it unemployment, and call them beggars. Whatever you call it; people like to collect money from people that will give money.
So in Africa, to say you are experienced, a person has to reach the upper plateau of saying NON. They must become absolutely clear in their brain, giving money to a person for nothing in return is bad, and it is a big Africa. Tsist Tsist Tsit, that little snapping noise, they make, with a shaking of my finger, and a shaking of my head…. NON.. Bad, no good…
NON, Cest Bon.
I am over the edge, I will have to ask the Gods in Heaven to forgive me, forgive me God for I have sinned. I have given too many times, to too many people a gift, a free ride, the money in my pocket, the food in my hand, I gave to them big round brown eyes, in Mexico, in Ecuador, in Thailand, in Cambodia, in Africa, I have given a coin, a chicelet, a small something to a person that asked. They wanted a gift; I gave them a live of slavery. I know, I admit, I was ignorant, I thought I was helping them, I am sorry. I will promise, I will not do it again. I will never give them slavery. I will say, sell me a drink, I will pay too much, give me a chiclets, I will give you a coin. I have learned and unlearned this lesson too many times. I do not want, wish, or think that every beggar that surrounds my hotel should ask me daily for something free. I learned this years ago, do not give in your home, or you will live eat and drink with beggars, and then have to leave to escape the torrent of them asking daily.
Say NON, continue to say NON, and they will stop.
I walked by a shy boy, a shy face, I looked in the door, I looked at the boy, I was thinking. I do not hear anything, then I hear a noise. I think he is saying Yeboo, the never-ending word for White Man, the constant noise. But, I think, what is that he said, what did I hear, aagh, yep, he said, - MONEY -
He wanted money, I met a boy yesterday, cute, underwear, excited parents, he comes to shake my finger, say hello, and then he says, YOGO. He points at the Fan Milk or boy coming down the street with iced Yogurt or Iced Tampico; it is the ice cream cart with a twist, those little packages of frozen treats I eat twice per day.
These little packages are additive, however, how does a kid, the age of two, know to ask the Yeboo for YOGO, the parent were prompting him, they know, ask the white man, he will buy, I looked at the kid, I know I am experienced, I say, - Travail-
I know I spell this French so bad, but I mean, - Work -
I want his family to hear, I want the world to know, there is a connection between money and Yogo, and it is work. I worked the farm, I bailed the hay, I cut weeds, I poured concrete, I trudged, I failed, I am a failure, I am not a failure, I did not sell my pride, I had too many chances, I could have sold it too easy. I refuse to sell it, many people wanted to buy it, but I was too arrogant and prideful, it was not for sale.
For the price of one YOGO, I can buy the pride of a nation, I can remove the boys desire to work, I can make him or her, say to his child, - Ask the White Man, he is stupid, he will give you money. -
I know they think me stupid; however, I also know I can leave…
I will forever be angry at Mexico, they cheated me, the crooked me, they took everything, at every chance, it is the most corrupt country I know. It trained me though, I know, I learned, if I allow a small cheat to happen, then again, I will learn to hate. I will learn to resent them. I will feel the cheat repeatedly until I cannot forgive.
I do not do things that make me angry, I know it takes a wonderful place and turns it into a nightmare of bad memories. I do love Africa, I do see so much to see and explore, and I am daily claiming my freedom from the persons who ask for something for nothing. I know, I am ready, I can see it coming, I anticipate now. I do not have to be frustrated, I am experienced, I know they are ready to ask, I am ready to say NON.