Africa, first date – part II

That was twenty years ago.

It’s 6 in the morning and trying to find a hot coffee bar proves useless so we have to be satisfied with soluble coffee rubbed into a cup and one cigarette whose smoke rouse the curiosity of chameleon who was on watch during our sleep. In the courtyard two vans appears and guards who first frightened us. Each of the three comes from a different weapon, have different uniforms, but most fierce is in black uniform, and besides the usual already machine gun he carries a pistol and a machete that could behead easily anything and everyone if only looking funny. We are told that we are not allowed to use cameras so put it in the pocket of the bag, handy though, just in case. We squeeze with “weapons and luggage” how can each and hit the road. In front next to the driver sits the fearsome utter a word, scanning the faces in other cars. As air conditioning is a luxury, most of the cars have windows lowered in hope of some fresh air. We get out of Lagos and enter the beautifully built highway that connects Lagos to Cotonou. In less than an hour we get stuck in a traffic jam where old and dusty cars mixes with newer cars, pedestrians and people pushing carts. Continue reading

Africa, first date – part I

That was twenty years ago.

After few good hours of flight from Sofia through Tripoli we land on Murtala Muhamed airport in Lagos. We look forward to all the equipment we brought and the boarding gate for the next flight to Cotonou. Bad luck, Bulgarian airline took our money but all flights from Lagos to Cotonou are canceled. Trying to get out of airport is an useless attempt, rules and guards with Kalashnikov on shoulder cut our enthusiasm. Dressed in shorts and sweaty shirts with all that equipment rather dubious in the eyes of airport staff we look like terrorists chased away their caves and going on pilgrimage to places more welcoming. Negotiation with the big guys proves unsuccessful. We are guided in the waiting room where can see the planes coming and going, coming and going while ridden here we sit. Success comes in many forms so after more than three hours we get phone number and call the embassy. Not long later consul comes and we can explain the situation to someone listening us. What he is saying is not filling our hearts of joy but only some hopes, it will be solved but … Continue reading

India twenty years ago

This is something I wrote almost twenty years ago when first saw India and was shocking. I am not hunting sensational but cannot stop me seeing people. India is changed and I am changed. Some things are same, some are changed, some vanished but I hope my Indian friends will still be my friends. My excuses to native speakers, my English might have some flaws.

Dedicated to Andrzej with whom shared good and bad two years in India, some ten years after that.

Is hot, is very hot, still summer in India. The agent, bit ragged, bit slimy if judging in European standards is waiting patient on the pier to see us finally disembarked. In our sweaty shirts we are pulling the bags, also not looking well after what they have seen in airports and planes cargo stores, trunks of cars better fitted for scrapyards and boats smelling everything but perfume. Happy to see us the agent is wiping hands on trousers, probably some lunch sauce, giving us right one. Education is the only one stopping me to refuse shaking it. Despite the aspect and the sauce he proves to be a nice guy and advise us to offer five dollars each for customs officer. Handing those fifteen dollars we can see him vanishing in the building different by the others only by the signboard saying “Office”.                                                                                                      Continue reading