By Zachary Moses
I flew to Africa. All the way to the bottom of the planet. This was one big check mark off the bucket list! Africa, a land of dreams. A land lost in time. OMG, I had no idea what to expect. It gives me goose bumps just writing about it.
The first thing I noticed is that flying from Key West to Miami to São Paulo (Brazil) to Johannesburg (South Africa) to Windhoek (Namibia) is A. LOT. of. flying! GAWD!
When I landed in Brazil, I was surprised at how much less secure the São Paulo airport felt than a US airport. American airport security feels a bit overkill. Seriously, the security at airports today is ten times more zealous than it was when I flew right after 9-11-01.
I didn’t have a visa for Brazil, so I couldn’t leave the boring airport and explore the city during my long layover. I used my Priority Pass to get into the lounge (an excellent benefit if you have an American Express Business Platinum card). They always have an assortment of free food and alcohol. I got a bowl of …well, it looked like pea soup.
Um, actually I don’t want to write about it. Let’s just say it wasn’t pea soup. Ughh… I set it aside and took the time to look around at the Brazilian airport staff: Nice butts!
Once I left Brazil, my flight into Johannesburg was awesome, because I used chemistry to knock myself out.
Apparently, I sleepwalk, sleep talk and generally act strangely when I take sleeping pills. I probably lose a lot of lovers this way. I won’t stop though, because I hate being awake on a red-eye flight through the night. It’s even worth seeing the occasional (and terrifying) Ambien-induced shadow people.
When I disembarked at the lavish airport in Johannesburg, I noticed that Africans are giving Brazilians a run for their money! Having a nice round booty seems to be a prerequisite around here.
My next flight was to Namibia. I sat next to a very nice, very pushy woman who said that a taxi to my hotel would cost a fortune, and then insisted on having her assistant drive me instead. I briefly wondered if I would be robbed and killed for having chosen to ride with strangers rather than take a taxi. But I quickly accepted her generous offer. The joy of traveling is that sometimes you meet the nicest people on Earth, and you realize your kidneys were never in danger.
When I got to my room, there was a huge bathtub. I took a hot bath and ordered room service. I stayed up later than I should have due to jetlag, and only got a couple hours of sleep. In the morning I got up for breakfast, but felt so out of it that I decided to go back to my room and nap. I woke up the next day at 3 am. Dammit, a whole day wasted! I felt wonderfully refreshed, but come on! I highly recommend booking an extra day at your hotel when you come to Africa for just this reason.
As soon as shops opened for the day, I went out and found an ATM machine, so I could get local currency. I went shopping at a flea market where some local Himba tribal women were selling their goods. I’m told that it’s only in the last few years that these tribes have begun venturing into the cities.
On my way back to my hotel I met the most beautiful local Namibian woman with amazingly gorgeous eyes. I started chatting with her, and found out that it was her 30th birthday. She is a self-confessed workaholic, so for her birthday celebration she took the day off and simply strolled around town. She works as a high-paid social worker with the local government, a job that earns the equivalent of about $5000 USD annually. I was tacky enough to ask this and all kinds of nosy questions, and she was kind enough to teach me about her culture.
We spent the day traveling all over the city. We took the local people cabs (they have other expensive ones to ream the money out of the tourists). It cost about 90 cents to cross the entire city! She introduced me to a tiny restaurant where I had the most amazing oxtail stew for dinner. They tried to suggest foods that would be more familiar for an American, but I wanted what they were having.
After dinner we went to a bar and danced and partied. We visited all local hangouts, where I was the only white person. Everyone was so interested in me. They all wanted to see my blue eyes, and touch my blonde hair (which someone said looked like plastic, LOL!).
I asked her why someone so beautiful was alone on her 30th birthday. She said because she’s afraid of HIV. She told me all about how bad it is in Africa. She’s been celibate for 5 years out of fear of the disease. She would be any straight local man’s dream woman, but she says that she will not date local men for fear of the disease. I had been surprised that such a beautiful woman would stop and chat with a perfect stranger on the street. I realized that I was really far from home; this was not America any more. Here I was the rich white man, appearing to have everything that could lift someone out of poverty. This was a first for me.
Honestly, the conversation reminded me of the issues we face in the gay community back home. I just never thought I would be face-to-face with a straight woman that shared these concerns to the same degree as gay men. Namibia is a gorgeous country. Honestly one of the most beautiful and economically stable in all of Africa, but even here, HIV has taken hold of the local communities.
My first day on the African continent and already so many of my preconceived notions had been debunked. I was so excited for the upcoming adventure.
Click here for Part 2, where I head off camping in the Namibian bush!
Click here for details about the Namibia Adventure Tour