October 16, 2009

Interracial couple denied marriage license in La.

Interracial couple denied marriage license in La.
By MARY FOSTER, Associated Press Writer Mary Foster, Associated Press Writer Fri Oct 16, 4:50 am ET
NEW ORLEANS – A white Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have.
Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.
"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way," Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. "I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."
Bardwell said he asks everyone who calls about marriage if they are a mixed race couple. If they are, he does not marry them, he said.
Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.
"There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage," Bardwell said. "I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it."
If he did an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all, he said.
"I try to treat everyone equally," he said.
Bardwell estimates that he has refused to marry about four couples during his career, all in the past 2 1/2 years.
Beth Humphrey, 30, and 32-year-old Terence McKay, both of Hammond, say they will consult the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint.
Humphrey, an account manager for a marketing firm, said she and McKay, a welder, just returned to Louisiana. She is white and he is black. She plans to enroll in the University of New Orleans to pursue a masters degree in minority politics.
"That was one thing that made this so unbelievable," she said. "It's not something you expect in this day and age."
Humphrey said she called Bardwell on Oct. 6 to inquire about getting a marriage license signed. She says Bardwell's wife told her that Bardwell will not sign marriage licenses for interracial couples. Bardwell suggested the couple go to another justice of the peace in the parish who agreed to marry them.
"We are looking forward to having children," Humphrey said. "And all our friends and co-workers have been very supportive. Except for this, we're typical happy newlyweds."
"It is really astonishing and disappointing to see this come up in 2009," said American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana attorney Katie Schwartzmann. She said the Supreme Court ruled in 1967 "that the government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry."
The ACLU sent a letter to the Louisiana Judiciary Committee, which oversees the state justices of the peace, asking them to investigate Bardwell and recommending "the most severe sanctions available, because such blatant bigotry poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the administration of justice."
"He knew he was breaking the law, but continued to do it," Schwartzmann said.
According to the clerk of court's office, application for a marriage license must be made three days before the ceremony because there is a 72-hour waiting period. The applicants are asked if they have previously been married. If so, they must show how the marriage ended, such as divorce.
Other than that, all they need is a birth certificate and Social Security card.
The license fee is $35, and the license must be signed by a Louisiana minister, justice of the peace or judge. The original is returned to the clerk's office.
"I've been a justice of the peace for 34 years and I don't think I've mistreated anybody," Bardwell said. "I've made some mistakes, but you have too. I didn't tell this couple they couldn't get married. I just told them I wouldn't do it."

October 9, 2009

Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize

Love the prez, but in all honesty I don't believe that he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. At least not so soon..... just my 2 cts.....
Let me hear you.

August 19, 2009


I did not record many events for various reasons:

1. For the past 2 weeks, there has not been any special happenings, "matata", "lòbèy", "zen" !

2.I’ve been focusing (like a hawk) on August 11th 2009 (my return date).

3.I had to finalize everything at the office before my departure.

4. Most of the Tribunal Staff Members are on leave (vacation).

Below is my last posting, my adieu, finito, "la fin", the end...

BTW, if any of you want to visit Tanzania, especially, Arusha, now is the time (summer months), the weather is ideal, we're just getting into the "warm" season!

Anyways, for the past 2 weeks, life has been boring, there were no special invitations to exclusive, fancy galas/soirees/dinners, just a couple of birthdays celebrations here and there ( epi dat 7)...nothing, nada, "absolument rien".

The young, and brilliant Haitian intern returned to Texas, compatriot #1 traveled to NY, Florida, and Haiti, and for the past 2 weekends in a row, compatriot #2 has been traveling to Nairobi ( Kenya). I' ve been alone, if not lonely. I have not cried for a few days, b/c I’ve been focusing on August 11th 2009.

Compatriot #1 hosted a birthday party for a friend, and I've met another charming, old school, half Belgian/half Haitian intellectual, who has been working for the Italian government, a great conversationalist, "Monsieur" has worked all over Africa as an engineer, economic planner, and an expert in mines and natural resources. Quite a character!

The birthday party was another great (typical) UN gathering, lots of wine, “griyo/diri ak pois congo”, ( rice and beans) ,vegetarian dishes for the leaves lovers (manje fèy), bbqued/ grilled beef. Had so much fun, met some interesting people from Indonesia... a few superb wine bottles, excellent convos...!

Did I mention that the "compatriots" in Arusha are not like MOI, they are “cordon bleu", great cooks, and superb hostesses. These ladies can really, really cook, and they have been so charitable and generous to MMG. For the past 8 weeks, at least twice a week, my dinner plates were "chauffeured", special delivery for MMG, the compatriots have discovered that MMG cannot cook, of course, I've blamed my lack of cooking skills on the frequent blackouts, but we all know the truth.
It was a great birthday celebration; btw, Monsieur Haitian intellectual was so drunk that we had to call the chauffeur to drive him home.

OFFICE REPORT: Another Haitian lawyer joined the Tribunal as Associate Legal Officer, she is originally from Switzerland, ( Haitian parents) but speaks "Kreyòl" fluently, does charity work in Haiti and the whole nine yard.

THE SICK MMG: I caught a stomach virus, was in pain for a couple of days (sore throat), I probably ate some "bad"," Nyama Choma" (bbque raw meat, eaten with just salt).

THE BRAVE & PROUD MMG: For the past 2 weeks I have decided, to walk back and forth to/from work. I haven't used the UN chauffeured cars or hailed a cab...16 minutes of power walking daily.

THE GOODBYES.-ADIEU.-FAREWELL: 2 weeks ago, a simply marvelous Saturday brunch, was hosted by an Ethiopian colleague just for MOI, even the weather cooperated. Great food, lasagna, eggs, (doggie bag anyone?), but the "clou de la soirée" was the coffee ceremony...

The coffee is roasted (charcoal grill), brewed in front of the honored guests, and ceremoniously served in “demi-tasses”. Everyone was mesmerized, snapped pictures; I did the "play by play" of the whole coffee brewing ceremony for the guests! It is still the way that coffee is brewed/served in Haiti (a la mode de chez nous)

Right after the marvelous brunch, I visited the Masai Market, bought loads of goodies, souvenirs for all... btw; the beaded Masai sandals are to die for. . .

Thanks to Compatriot #1 generosity, and charity, I have the usage of a chauffeur driven car for the remaining of my stay in Arusha.

Attended a retirement party at "La Fiesta Pub and Grill", for a Jamaican colleague, 35 years of service to the organization. I didn't stay too long, of course, the younger crowd was headed to Club Masai Camp, I kindly declined the after party invitations, left the party at 12:30 pm...

GREATEST ADVENTURE OF THEM ALL: As I was saying, I left the party at 12:30 pm, went outside, didn't see the car nor the chauffeur, called him on his cell, a couple of times (NO ANSWER), I was getting nervous, just imagine 2 women standing alone in front of a Bar and Grill (past midnite), frantically called the chauffeur again, thank you lord, he finally picked up his cellphone, he was just around the corner...Mr. Chauffeur went around the block to get a drink or 2, if not too many ! He tried to explain his dilemma to MOI in broken English..."La Fiesta's" bar was too expensive for him; he simply went to the shack around the corner, where the drinks are way cheaper. Compatriot # 1 was fuming, but "Houston we have a problem" that we couldn't ignore: The chauffeur was too drunk to drive!

The Haitian trooper in MOI, gathered strength, courage, and volunteered to drive the car; my very first time driving in Arusha. Old British colony, of course the steering wheel is on the right side, and traffic flows on the left side of the roads. Quite an experience! After all, I've been driving on the right side of the road for decades!

Did I mention that I don't have a Tanzanian driver's license? but since I was driving an official UN car/blue license plate (Serial 258), I prayed that I was not doing anything too illegal...anyways, I was better suited to drive than the drunk chauffeur ! I only had one drink (a Kili beer) at the party! Drove the automobile "assez bien", quite well, followed in another car by Compatriot # 1 and other friends/colleagues, didn't kill anybody or hit anything, made it home safe and sound.

Earlier on, I had given the chauffeur 20 000 TShillings (about $ 17.00 US dollars), didn't know at the time, that it was his "drinking” money ;-), therefore, I was shocked when Compatriot # 1, called around 2:00 am , to inform MOI that the chauffeur has been crying, yes, CRYING b/c he didn't have enough $$$$ to go home !
Mr. Chauffeur was escorted to my apartment by the bldg. security guard, the Christian woman in MOI, gave him another 10 000 TShillings ($ 8.00 US dollars) to go home.
Btw, he was still drunk, hmmmmm...thinking about it now, I'm convinced that Mr. Chauffeur walked home and stopped for a few drinks along the way.

The very next day, my Muslim friend invited MOI to a farewell lunch, called the driver, he agreed to pick me up at 2 :00 pm, let us hope that he is sober , Mr. Chauffeur never showed up, Compatriot # 2 had to pick me up.

THE FAREWELL LUNCH: Didn't eat too much (remember my stomach virus), but had the time of my life, the locals were so polite, and humble...the cutest baby boy in Tanzania, fell in love with MMG... Greetings in Swahili from the neighborhood's kids, since my Muslims friends were all educated in Kenya, (British education), they were my official translators ! the kids didn't understand the fact, that I look exactly like them, but didn't speak Swahili. They were all so cute, so full of life, and "podyab", they were playing barefoot in the cold winter temp!

THE CHAUFFEUR.- Finally, called back last Tuesday, back into my good grace, sober and all, has been driving me back and forth from/to work and drove me a few times to different shops/markets... but Mr. Chauffeur is quite a character, he used to work at the UN as an official driver, but he was fired because of excessive absences, when he is drunk, he can be a great raconteur of legendary fables, the funniest of them all: One day , he called his boss, to announce that he was PREGNANT, and couldn't make it to work ! But he is a great guy, a "simple d'esprit" who wouldn't hurt a fly!

ANOTHER FABLE BY MR. CHAUFFEUR: Last Thursday, as he was driving me around town (errands), his cell phone rang, a few minutes later, he informed MOI, that his dear brother just passed away, he just had to travel pronto, to the town of Moshi for the funeral arrangements...of course there was a strong possibility that it was one of his many fables...yet again, the Christian woman in MOI, understood his chagrin, and gave him some extra $$$$$...

LAST ANNOUCEMENT: I have received my $100 dollars refund from Mr. Internet, didn't even have to threaten him, didn't use my AK 47 nor my M16, didn't put a voodoo spell on him...let's just say that I used MY CHARMING & KIND MANNERS (yes, you sickos, I can be charming like that), and btw, I think Mr. Internet was looking for a date with MMG...

Final week in Arusha, and I'm basically alone, everyone has returned home: end of assignments! Time for MMG to pack her bags, in a few days, I will be covered with millions of chocolate kisses/hugs from my kids, a few lazy beach days/ hot summer days never hurt a sista ! I've survived 3 winter months in Tanzania !...I still have a few "goodbye lunches/ brunches/ dinners" to attend...Colleagues at the office organized a farewell party, just for MOI, received a few gifts/ lots of "bon mots", and hugs and kisses!


Coming up next: personal views/opinions.

August 2, 2009

Journey to Arusha - The end or a new beginning...

Saturday, 10 July, 2009

Did not go to the (5:00 am) Ngorongoro Crater visit, but I woke up early, ate a lite b'fast, showered, and hailed a cab, you know the routine by now, destination: Bank, Money Exchange dealer, and ShopRite.

Disturbing phone call from Compadre # 2: "matata", "lòbèy", "zen nan shoublak",
"manman de pitit mare vo vant", the call was alarming to say the least: shots were fired inside an Ethiopian resto last nite(Friday), targeting ICTR interns, some were badly wounded. I've met quite a few of those kids, they are all well mannered, educated, smart, ambitious, young men/women, and like all young people, they have that certain "joie de vivre", they affectionately refer to MOI as "Mama Gina" (MMG). It has been a hectic 24 hours, didn't sleep a wink, all nite long, I was worried about my daughter's altercation at Camp (NJ), you know the story, she was slammed (head first) to the ground (concrete), by a 13 year old boy and now this. What's a mother to do? Lord! Jesus, we're talking kids here, mostly 25 years old!

Rushed thru the building knocked/banged on a few doors, tried to find somebody/anybody to confirm the disturbing news. The T & T security officer was not around, oh lord, was he out investigating the crime? Where were all my "Trinis"? when I really needed them (you know who you are), knocked/banged on a few more doors, some have heard the same report, but NO one could confirm, wether the interns were seriously wounded or not! Oh! Malheur, Oh! Misère.

Tried to remain calm, went back to my apt., chatted with my kids, my daughter was fine, she truly has Haitian blood running thru her veins, she can/will survive anything !, and yes, she was taught to fight back, let's just say, she kicked the boy in his "private area", but you best believe that upon my return (August 11), I shall have a "nice and quiet ", convo with the Camp Director/Counselors and the boy's parents, still NO CONFIRMATION of the shooting at the Ethiopian resto.
I will attend the Cameroonian soiree tonite; I'm sure someone/anyone will confirm or deny the story, let us all pray for the latter...

Quite a celebration: son going away to college, daughter first communion, the couple 22nd wedding anniversary! btw, I've been having a slight problem in Tanzania, I've only packed so called "work/business attires", didn't know that I would be invited to every soiree/ gala in town.
THE SOIREE: A classy affair to say the least, 200 honoured guests, a mansion, tents in the back yard, DJ, food, and then more food, and yes, THE BAR, nicely set up under the gazebo...speeches, prayers, hymns, solo artists, duos, trios, and did I mention long speeches, accolades, and hugs/kisses all around, a true love fest ! KUMBAYA MY LOVE...
I couldn't enjoy this glorious celebration to the fullest, I still needed confirmation, looked around for someone/anyone to confirm last nite shooting, finally, my boss arrived, (a bit late) he was at the police station/filing reports and....he quickly debunked the story, the real version: Yes, there was an attempted robbery at the Ethiopian resto, and yes, the interns were there, a shooting did occur, the would be robbers shot a parakeet, all the interns are fine, shaken, but fine, no one was hurt, and most importantly: NO ONE TARGETED ICTR STAFF MEMBERS. Thank you, Lord Jesus!

POST SCRIPTUM: for the deranged amongst you, and you are quite a few, let the record show that I'm the first one to say: NO, the parakeet was not shot b/c he said "FREEZE" to the would be robbers!

"La fête continue", for the true Haitian (over 35 years old):"la fèt se boulswiff"
Oh! how I love myself... se vre wi!

The launching of a solo artist (George), CD entitled THE CLAN, and the bid started at 5000 TShillings, "Qui dit mieux?" some people were just outbidding each other in US dollars...ohh! I got it now, they are all members of THE CLAN, the world renown Cameroonians posse working at ICTR, hence the fanatical bidding. Just imagine, about 60 of them, Cameroonians men/women, funny smart, witty, educated, married, and "enmerdeur extraordinaire", they usually meet once a month to celebrate, different house/different host/hostess each month, and of course the host/ hostess is responsible for the food and drinks... hmmm ...one of these days,I may need a temporary Cameroonian passport!

Back to the bidding, quick calculations 5000 TShillings is about $ 5.00 US dollars, MMG can certainly afford it, and just for the heck of it, I decided to bid in Haitian Gourdes...350 Haitian Gourdes... "Qui dit mieux?".

And the place went wild! "Say what? Did somebody say Haitian? Is Gina from NY Haitian? She must speak French, just cannot be, she is African American". About 2 months, and a few days in Arusha, no one knew that I was Haitian (born/raised/natif/natal. Can you imagine, MOI, with my heavy "kreyòl" accent passing for an American, now that's funny! Anyways, I won the bid, total cost $ 6.00 US dollars ;-).
The DJ even gave me a free South African artists Greatest Hits CD, but he was only playing Cameroonian music ( frenchie..frenchie), and surprise...surprise, DJ dropped an Alan Cavé's songs (Haitian superstar), I started singing along with my homeboy AC , in French, with just just a "dash" of "Kreyòl", you know how we roll! and it was confirmed/certified to, and by all, that "Mama Gina" (MMG) was a true "kreyòl" Haitian woman! left the soiree, around 2:00 am, last one to leave, of course, what can I say, DJ was spinning my homeboy AC...

My hair has caused quite a stir in Arusha, from the hair salon, the office, galas, soirees, even in the streets, the brave ones usually ask: "How many wigs do you own Mama Gina?"
I usually reply:" Wigs? But my dear, it's my natural hair, don't wear/own any wigs", and they look at MOI, kind of: YEAAH SURE...the daring, and curious ones, the "joudas", want to touch my hair/ just to" feel it"", double/triple check if it's REAL ! they are always impresssed/schocked/flabbergasted, I seriously didn't know that I was "en vogue/a la mode", rocking it, b/c I don't comb/brush my hair per se, I usually run my fingers thru my hair in the morning, and LET IT BE.

If you happen to see a documentary on CNN, about a "crazy woman in Africa", walking around showing her scalp, trying her very best, to prove that she is not wearing a wig: it's MOI.

Funniest MMG’s Hair story: At the hair salon (2 weeks ago), I was told to have a seat, the hairdresser asked MOI: "Madam, besides your real hair, do you want your wig to be washed as well? ", and the Haitian devil in MOI replied: YES...not such a good idea, the Congolese hairdresser tried vainly, to pull t the "supposedly wig" off my scalp, pulled, and pushed, even shoved, Mr hairdresser got all "macho" pulling harder/ flexed his muscles....OUCH! Still hurting, but it sounded like such a good prank at the time. Oh! My God, it's not a wig, he gathered everybody around to touch/feel/comment... SHOWTIME AT THE APOLLO! , and they all had questions:

What hair products do you use MMG ? How do you comb your hair? Simple answer: Water/Shampoo/Conditioner and 10 fingers. OK, It has been all about MOI, let us change the sub for a quick geography lesson, after all, I've been in Africa (Tanzania ) for the past 2 months, I know, you're curious about Arusha, how do I know? b/c you peeps love, and miss me so much...MISS YOU TOO!

Arusha is in my book "a big village", some around here claim it's a town, but to MOI it's a village, I'm from Haiti, I know a village when I see one, these people don't have a clue. ONE... UNO (1) traffic light in town, the inhabitants are quiet, polite, proud, humble, honest; the streets are somewhat paved (less than 25% ) of course, the foreigners, bourgeois, "boujwa" live in gated communities, huge mansions, security tight, all the time.

In the village of Arusha, Thursday, is PRE WEDDING RECEPTION DAY. It is the day that the bride's/groom's relatives meet each other, huge reception, tents and more tents. The groom's parents sit on the right side and the bride's parents sit on the left, it's a tradition, it's a cultural event to attend especially for the free food and drinks ;-) No, I have not crashed in yet, but planning on being an Arusha wedding crasher.

Saturday and Sunday wedding days....traffic jam all over the town, the wedding procession starts with an open pick up truck (a float), a live band playing loud music, this is not a procession, this is a parade !, and another pick up truck with the flowers girls, followed by another truck (float) carrying the grooms'/ bride's relatives, and here comes the bride/groom in a white car. The wedding parade oops! procession, drives very slowly around town (5 mph), making a stop at every corner, posing for pictures (strike a pose), and there is a competition of course, which wedding parade (procession) will drive the slowest and/or have the best band/the most beautiful flower girls... Ladies and Gents, Saturdays and Sundays in Arusha: TRAFFIC JAM DAYS...20 wedding parades in town !
I know what you're thinking, typical Haitian exaggeration, but I swear: average 20 wedding parades, every weekend.


Baby!, it's cold ! we're talking 30/40 degrees F at nite, and slightly better during the day, and apparently, no one in the area, has ever heard of CHAUFFAGE CENTRAL/CENTRAL HEATING SYSTEM, so we keep warm, however we can afford: fireplaces, electric blankets, comforters, sweaters, flanel pj's, socks, hot tea /alcohol...I personally drink ginger tea, lots of tea (turning British) !, and guess wha? NO HOT WATER , (pa gen dlo cho pitit) shower at your own risk, and the bed feels like a block of ice at nite! let's not get too intimate, or personal, and talk about the coldness of undies...
p.s. for the "kk kleren", "tafiatè", "dejwe", hard drinkers amongst you: No, I do not drink alcohol to keep warm! well ok, may be 2 shots of whiskey every nite !

Out of the 10 natural wonders in the world, Three (3) are in Tanzania. The Serengeti Migration at # 1 and the Ngonrongoro Crater at # 6 and another one that I cannot remember right now...DEAL WITH IT !
It is simply, a beautiful and fascinating country.

“Established in 1963, the Arusha administrative region in northern Tanzania has an area of about 86,100 square km, including 2,460 square km of water area. The Serengeti Plain lies in the northwest, and the Maasai Steppe, broken only by isolated gneiss hills, lies in the south. In the central area of the region are the Crater Highlands, bordering portions of the East African Rift System. Volcanic activity and faulting have created broad lava plains and volcanic massifs such as Mount Meru (4,566 m) and the occasionally active Oldoinyo Lengai (2,878 m). Rainfall varies from 1,800 mm annually on Mount Meru to 508 mm on the semiarid plains. Terrain ranges from wooded savannas and mountain forests to alpine areas.Arusha is an important coffee-producing area. Other crops include grain, vegetables, cotton, pyrethrum, papa in, sisal, and sunflower seeds. Magnesite and meerschaum are mined in the region; there are also salt, mica, saltpetre, and ochre deposits. Tourism is important, based on the big-game areas of Taranqire National Park, Ngorongoro and Ngurdoto craters, Olduvai Gorge, and Lake Manyara. The region's major ethno-linguistic groups include the Arusha, Meru, Iraqw, and Maasai. Arusha town, an important business centre, is the regional capital. Pop. (1994 est.) 1,596,000."

Now, you know everything you wanted to know about Arusha, Tanzania, and NO, I ain't bringing any of you, the rare, and expensive Tanzanite "pierreries", gems, jewels as souvenirs !

July 13, 2009

Journey to Arusha

Wednesday, 1 July - Friday, 10 July, 2009

It has been so long since I've posted, I think I've lost my bearings! I am definitely getting accustomed to life in Arusha. Let’s see. No cannot be, I've missed my kids too much!
Anyways, the real reason why I have been silent for the past 2 weeks is because of the now famous "UN JY9, July 2009", big changes in the organization. New Rules, Recruitment Reforms, now, I know why I am here. It took me a while to figure it out, but now, I know for sure, MMG (Mama Gina) from NY Headquarter is synonymous to:
Transitions, Changes, New Contracts, New Rules.

A solo walk around town, looked for souvenirs, postcards for you peeps, killing time, weather was lovely, not too cold, rather sunny. Only 1 hour left before going back to the office, had to eat something. I noticed a packed local restaurant, so the food must be great!

I was greeted by the owner/manager, inquired about a table, none is available, and the gentleman told me: “please Madam, seat anywhere you please” another look around the room. Yep, I was right the first time, there were no available tables!

Of course, I reacted like a true Westerner, stood by the door, awaited for the next available table, the owner/manager guided me to a table, already occupied by 2 gentlemen who were already eating, chatting with each other... I felt obliged to inform him, that I didn't know these gentlemen, "so, just grab a chair..." he escorted me to another table, sat down, by the time, I grabbed the menu, another gentleman, calmly sat right across from me... Perplexed looks all around, he asked, If I were expecting company, I replied: NO, just grabbing a bite to eat, and he added: "Where are you from? Haiti, was of course the reply, ahhh said the gentleman: "now I understand, you're not from here. Well Madam, in Arusha, Tanzania an empty chair is an empty chair... "you know the old saying: WHEN IN ROME... but what I couldn't digest, was the fact that said gent, started to pick/dig his teeth right in front of MOI! Lord have mercy! The manager came around to inquire if everything was fine...Well, I said:
I think I will take my lunch "to go/take out".
Moved to the service table, away from "the digger/picker", and looking at him from a different angle, the picker/digger was not such a gentleman, cultural differences or NOT, I just couldn't take the "gent" picking his teeth! GRRRRRRR...

My food: straight from the kitchen/smoking hot! somehow, they managed to drop it at the "picker's" table, I asked for "take out"I said, again confused looks all around, come on now, I know I have an accent: T A K E O U T. Finally someone came to my recue,and said: TO CARRY.

I was closely watching the action behind the counter, awaiting my "TO CARRY". My dear friends, may I repeat myself, I said: I was closely watching the action behind the counter, the cook's hands/10 fingers/dirty nails, and then some (no gloves) all over my food, dumped everything in a greasy brown paper bag (fries/beef/cutleries) and tied it up and handed it to me... 2500 T Shillings, less than $2 US dollars, a sista truly couldn't complain!

I'm proudly carrying out my "carry out" to the office, greasy brown bag and all, reached my destination, asked a few colleagues for a paper plate or 2, they looked at me as if I were from Venus..."paper plate for what? Every one goes home for lunch..." oops! Sorry! My bad!

So like a true Haitiana, I digged in, no paper plates... great food/beef is spicy, seasonings, some leftover, the greasy brownbag will not survive the trip home, and I certainly cannot throw away so much food, all over the world people/children are dying of hunger!


Ladies and gents, I have an announcement to make: the previously cancelled workshop is ON! no late cancellation this time (I hope), and it is mandatory for all recruitment staff members to attend, the preliminary agenda has been circulated, and did I mention that all staff members have to contribute "je ne sais quoi" and of course, today’s meeting about the workshop has been adjourned !

I had to do my "homework", called/consulted a few colleagues in NY, needed to be sharp, I had an idea, well, sort of... Surprisingly, greasy brown bag made it home, crispy fries, a glass of wine, chatted with the kids, read the workshop agenda, it's all about Staff Rules, and I'm not a guru of Staff Rules and Regulations. HIV/AIDS, Recruitment Procedures (my forte)... but Staff Rules, come on, now!

Thursday, 2 July, 2009

Arrived early at the office, friends/colleagues from Headquarter NY are keeping me in the loop. Forwarded the latest documents to the Chief and a few colleagues, 11:00 am: Meeting, New Rules and Regulations are in full effect, but no action yet, let’s just wait for the workshop!

3:00 pm: General meeting, first things first, the Chief mentioned: the documents that Gina have forwarded...” no one was aware that MMG forwarded documents! I was getting funny looks, overheard a few: "Did you get the documents? I didn't get any... Did you check your email?", to tell you the truth, I didn't forward the documents to all, and I had the perfect excuse: I DON'T HAVE A MAILING LIST, and just between you and I, there are some funny names around here, we're talking all consonants and/or all vowels names !
Ok, I know another blunder!!! I must redeem myself/somehow/someday/somewhere!

Brilliant idea: Let us have a meeting in my office, a meeting after a meeting (sounded brilliant to me at the time) Everyone is sitting in my office, talking over each other, they all trying to come up with ideas/something/anything to talk/discuss at the now famous workshop! no one is listening, hmmm not such a "brilliant idea", Got to do something, I pulled out my flash drive (not that, you perverts!), here's an idea/something to talk about , A few months ago, I did a presentation for UN spouses about Employment Opportunities ...now it's already 5 pm, I'm still getting funny looks, they can tell that I'm not really paying attention, actually, I was chatting online with a colleague from Headquarters NY, but I did try to think of something...yeahhh sure! right! Oh lord, I thought I was loved/cherished/adored by these people, from the looks in their eyes, I can tell:

Ok, peeps, I got it, it's a team effort, calm down, chillax, "pole pole”, I have an idea: let's do a power point presentation on, I have slides and everything ready to go, so now, I’m in the moment, banging my keyboards
(again not that, you perverts!) writing the presentation, no more chats with NY colleagues, 2 hours later, it's done, and I’m so hungry, wonderful dinner:
Snickers chocolate bar/Coca Cola/Water...YUM YUM !
And of course MMG stayed 'till 9:30 pm, after everybody left, to dot the I's and cross the T's, told you I would redeem myself ....LOL

Made it home, just in time to chat with the kids before bed time, brewed some ginger tea, worked some more on the presentation zzzzz time...

Friday, 3 July, 2009
Workshop started at 8:15 am (YAWN)


Great Hotel, great amenities, break time already, and I saw/overheard some food and drinks calling out my name!
LUNCH: BINGO LEGAL...buffet, great set up and yes: FREE WINE! even the weather is cooperating, let's act like tourists, and take some pix by the pool! hey, what can I say, you cannot take the Haitian out of me, I go to a nice place, I have to take pictures and strike a pose ...Deal with it!
2: pm: Back to the workshop, some more talks, heated discussions, ideas, debates, Wonderful atmosphere!

4:pm: Here comes my group, no debates just the presentation, we did well, or so I hope, who cares anyway, Chapter 1 is over.

6:30 pm: Happy Hour! oh! Happy days!, drank 'till 7:15 pm, dinner is ready, Ladies and Gents...we ate/mingled and we went home, took a peak at the Hotel's Presidential Suite, $160 dollars a day, UN discount $85 dollars a day but everyone lives 5 minutes max from the Hotel, so every one went home... For a minute, I thought about it, but the UN chauffeurs dropped everybody home, chatted with the kids, I'm tired it has been a long day! zzzzzzzzzzz time....

Saturday, 4 July, 2009

I know in the US, it's bbque/"tafia"/beer and more beer day:

UN driver called early , "Are you ready Madam?...Yes , I am ...
Wonderful day, same scenario as the day before, lots of food and drinks but this time the weather is not cooperating, it's coooooldddd !!!! Have I mentioned it is winter time in Tanzania/ remember, I'm on the other side of the world! and we are 7 hours ahead, for the mathematically challenged, when it's 12 o'clock/noon US Eastern Time, it is 7:00 pm in Arusha, Tanzania ... Comprende?
Anyways it's cold...up in here or is it down in here, grab a map and let me know, but according to my son Fabrice, I' M DOWN IN HERE.. as in DOWN UNDER.

We still sat by the pool, still working on the presentation, and suddenly, I was nominated THE PRESENTER, and being Haitian, the minute they mentioned my name, I foolishly accepted, it’s a Haitian thingy, we love being in charge, the boss, the "makout", I think they are already planning a "coup d’état”, paranoia is slowly creeping in, but for now, I’m foreseeing my name engraved in golden letters:


We're back in the conference room, a new face sitting on the dais, next to the Chief, who is she? Don't know her, well, who cares? Group 1 is done, now it's our turn (Group 2), and of course, MMG THE PRESENTATOR "a la parole”, the floor is yours MMG.

I'm cool, calm, collected, I know, I can do this, just read the notes, a little BS here and there and I will be home soon, just smile a little, eye contacts, don't speak too fast, I GOT THIS, now I'm bringing it home, nice and easy, I’m telling you, this is a piece of cake, and then, ladies and gentlemen, I was interrupted by THE CHIEF....EL JEFE..CHEF LA ...
and I quote: "This is not too clear Gina, you've generalized, do give specific/concrete examples...oooh ! ok, he is playing dirty/ok I got this, just watch this Mr. Chief Sir, the BS is about to kick in, what did you people want me to do, all eyes were on me, so I went for the kill and I ventured:"

Well, Reportedly and relatively speaking, It must be serendipity, the reason it's not too clear it's b/c the letter from NY, actually, definitely, supposedly, and consequentially the handwriting was not too clear, you see in NY, my colleagues..., I, too have a problem with this part, so can I cautiously call my colleagues to verify?

He looked at me and said in an unconvinced voice tone:
"...that’s ok, Now I get it..." but I know if he were Haitian he would have said:
Graciously and thankfully, my colleague, came to my rescue and it was his handwriting. walked back to my chair, and I asked a colleague " who is the elegant woman sitting next to the chief? ...oooh that woman, she is just the CHIEF OF ADMINISTRATION.. she is from Kenya....
And of all the days (chak jou bondye fè jou) I had to pick up today, to f*** up, I'm telling you, life is not a game, I have to pay more attention at meetings, and to all my colleagues in NY , no more IM/chatting while I' m attending a briefing/meeting, well ok, we can chat just a little....;-) No more picture taken , strike a pose while we are discussing issue, learn my lesson…not really…
The workshop continued, now I'm paying attention, questioning, debating, commenting, and challenging other presenters...
.Thank God, the day is over, NO HAPPY HOUR tonite, just dinner, I approached the Chief of all Chiefs (elegant lady), introduced my self, she said: Oh, yes, I’ve heard about you, I was in Nairobi when you came, last May, never had a chance to meet you, welcome to Arusha , And I m wondering if she actually said " I HEARD YOU as in a few hours ago or Did she say ; I'VE HEARD ABOUT YOU! Hey, she is a professional, just being polite, but I know, I just made a fool of myself just a few hours ago, so I offered her a glass of wine, better yet, let’s buy the bottle, she kindly declined, and I left her alone, hopefully she will forget me ....

Dinner was wonderful, a delight, of course, my colleagues were supportive, I swear, some had a rather daze look: "You weren't that bad...", they said, but deep down I knew,
Went home, tired, upset at myself...LIFE DOES GO ON !
Nightly chat with the kids, phone rang, a colleague invited me out, well ok, just give me 15 minutes, Needed some fresh air after today’s' debacle...knock at the door? I'm schocked, it's my friend, a Muslim woman, face not covered/tight jeans/shoulder out...Am I seeing things? I wondered, she replied:”. Muslims out nite , ooh! ok MMG got it, and we're going to MASAI CAMP!

Glorious night, but quite cold about 40 degrees!


The whole tribunal interns and associates were at those joint, local kids, college kid’s home for the weekend, what I am doing there? I am too old for this crowd, grabbed a mojito and a seat by the fireplace, right in the middle of the room, Great music, DJ is good, finally took a trip to the dance floor!

Of course no one recognized my "Muslim nite colleague" she kept saying hi to all, and people answered timidly, so mischievously I whispered all nite long"
"... this is XXXX from Recruitment..", jaws dropped, at least I am having fun….
1:00 am Showtime

Upcoming singer is performing, quite talented, but we had some audio/technical difficulties, Saved by the bell, just bumped into the colleague who rescued me earlier, he is about my age, at least, I’m not the only old person in this joint, I'm telling you 2 make a crowd !
What can I tell you? young people are the same anywhere in the world, from Paris, Japan. NY, Haiti, Tanzania ect..., they all look/dress the same way, and they listen/dance to the same music, you can tell they're young, they're all loud, think they are the coolest/hippest around, and they all think, they can REALLY drink...Had to smile, been there/done that ! and may I add, that I still have some dance moves, a bit outdated, but I can still boogie ...(coops just showed my age).

It's 3 am now, I'm thinking of sleep (dodo), after all, we still have a workshop to attend
at 8 am. You know you're getting old , when you're out and you're calculating how many hours are you gonna sleep, by my calculation, I will sleep 5 hours...!

Sunday, 5 July, 2009
9:00 am: A call from the UN driver, we arrived at the Hotel in less than 5 minutes, no traffic, it is Sunday.
Chapter 2 of my presentation and this time the great Presenter had to redeem herself and of course I was brilliant...questions were asked/answered, questioned/comments were "commented"/inquiries were "inquired", a great 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the Chief of Chiefs (elegant lady) did not attend !

And cherry on the cake, at lunch, A few colleagues asked me If I were a teacher...You were excellent, Gina...well, thank you, thank you very much, I'm taking my bows, and just for the record let me say: the MOI that you heard today is the real MOI...
Finally, the weekend workshop is over, 3 days of great food, drinks, 3 days of debating/commenting/inquiring, no food fights ! we have all survived !of course, there was little "derapage" by MOI on day 2, but at the end of the day, a good time was had by all, everybody was happy/satisfied ..WELL DONE GUYS/GALS!

Monday,6 July, 2009
We have covered everything over the weekend, Signs posted at doors:
HR IS OPEN 'after 3 PM FOR CONSULTATIONS. Back to work, every contract has to be amended, well, lets talk some more, We are more confused than before the workshop, Come on now, we just had a 3 days workshop retreat, Didn't we cover everything?

An ugly rumor is running thru the hallways, taking over the whole building, people think the new rule means SALARY CUTS, they refused to sign their new contracts. Each case is different, let's do them CASE by CASE. More documents on NY Intranet, I have full access, and lesson learned, this time, I do have a mailing list with everybody's name, clicked FORWARD TO ALL, even forwarded unanswered questions to NY Headquarter, NY of course, will get back at us ... I've never seen so many consonants in my life !

Tuesday, 7 July, 2009

Summary reports drafting, and May I have an extension 'till Wednesday morning? I know in HR we suppose to multitask but come on, this is too much for my little brain . NY is clogging my inbox with new templates, new decisions, recommendations, oh lord, do I have the brain to absorb all? hey! it is my job… Things I have not done, matters to rectify, to correct, let's deal with them one by one. Folks are working with no contracts. Now stats, are needed, questions are pouring in, they cannot tell me to "Pole Pole MMG", everyone is multitasking .
New Rules, New Year, New Salaries.
Finalized the summary report, compiled the presentations. My colleague added a few things here and there, Thanked him, after all this is the gent who rescued me at the workshop, his inputs are valid if not valuable ! Busy day, but Job well done...
Have to rush home, gotta watch MJ's memorial, don’t want to miss 1 minute !
Moving ceremony, shed a few tears for MJ.FARE WELL MICHAEL JACKSON

Wednesday, 8 July, 2009
Everyone is tired at the office, we all stayed up late, watching MJ's memorial.

More questions, of course, diffused a few salary cuts rumors, finalized the summary reports, forwarded to the Chief and still awaiting Headquarter NY reply, just received the much awaited reply: put all infos/questions/inquiries on NY's website under FAQ's...oh No Dear, No, can’t do, not enuff time.The whole week was pretty much the same: Busy as a bee, I never went out to lunch, and stayed late daily or is it nightly to "finalize" everything.

Friday, 10 July, 2009
Lots of work, got to finalize everything, the cut off date for payment in the system; all have to be done, signed/sealed and delivered. Finish work at 2:30 stay late to have a phone chat with the kids. By 3:00 the Tribunal is empty. Realized that I have no cash, proceed to the cash machine, can’t remember my pin code, yeah I know you are laughing… it is OK. No one is around to ask for a ride or even money for taxi.
Weather is nice, a bit warm, I pass by the dispatcher, and all the drivers are gone, no more drop off. I let an officer know that I am going to walk home. 3:15 I start walking, arrive in the building at exactly 3:23, I was a bit worried not scared walking but I did it and felt proud. Should I walk back and forth from now on? Don’t know such a short distance; we are always confined in a car…. I will try on MondayInvitation to the Ngonrongoro crater, Bus leaving at 5 am, NO I can't, I'm too tired, and it has been a brutal week ! I gave my neighbor's kids my tickets.

Here comes another invitation to dinner and dancing, don’t know yet, I will call to confirm. Another invite to a Cameroun Dance Party, hmmm , The latter sound great, I SHALL ATTEND

Just chatted with my kids and I'm worried, my dear daughter was involved in an altercation at Summer Camp, a 13 year old boy, lifted her up and slammed her down (cement ground). Called the Dr in New Jersey, I'm VERY worried about a concussion or something, hey, don't blame me, what's a mother to do especially when she is thousands of miles away, about 2/ 3 days of flying non stop, I know kids are kids and boys will be boys but you best believe that I'm worried...keeping a vigil, PRAYING, cannot sleep, thinking of my daughter being slammed to the cement ground,. Hope she is ok ! God is Good, and I'm thinking ...

July 1, 2009

Journey to Arusha

June 23 thru June 30, 2009

Another week in Tanzania, lots of work to be done, and contrary to popular belief, I haven't misspelled any names, I 'm learning to "chillax", "pole pole" like they say around here. This is the week that will go down in history as "meetings week", 2, 3, 4 meetings daily, has any one ever attended a 5 minutes meeting? worked late hours, tried to stay out of trouble, as you well know, trouble has a tendency to find MOI.

Attended a luncheon for a colleague leaving for Nairobi (Kenya), around here, it is "cause célèbre"/just cause for a celebration!

Watched the Confederation Cup semi final soccer match on TV, (US vs Spain) I was not very hungry, dinner was a simple, yet delicious salad! texted/chatted with the kids, aaah! My kids, end of the year report cards were perfect. So may A's that I've lost counts! I'm indeed blessed! Well, they are blessed; I'm just going along with the ride!

Wednesday, 24 June, 2009

Received an invitation to a party for Friday, June 26, from 3:00pm to 3:00am, quick math, that's 12 hours of drinking/eating/dancing, and more drinking. A true blue (UN) party! What kind of party is it, I sheepishly asked, the reply shocked even MOI:

"It is a welcome/adios/good bye/birthday/anniversary/nice meeting you kind of party...”! In other words, it is a Sweet Micky "sa k pa kontan anbake" kind of party! A "Kite konpa mache" kind of party, and for my non speaking/reading "kreyòl" friends, it is a "let the music play" party, and if "the roof is on fire, let the motha burn" kind of party !

Just received another open invitation to 2 birthday gatherings! Didn’t RSVP, I was focusing on the true blue UN party.

Now, I don't want you to think, that I am living "la vida loca" and /or I "Party all the time" around here, YES, there is a lot of work to be done at ICTR, and it seems that every single colleague, thinks that I'm in Tanzania for their eyes only!

They all came to visit MOI, they came in groups, welcoming committee, solo, duos, trios, quatros, from every department, section, office ect... one after another, and they're all so polite... let us praise MMG (Mama Gina) for a job well done, she is a blessing, sent to us from Headquarter NY to save us !Alleluia!' till I realized, that they've heard thru the grapevine that "Mama Gina from NY", doesn't mind working late hours! so let's dump all files on MMG's desk, and let us go party!

My 2 Tanzanians colleagues, are simply marvelous! I sort of annoy them most of the time, but they love MOI, anyways! I keep them laughing, telling them tattletales about Headquarters NY, they kind of help MOI, with all those papers, Lord Almighty, we're talking piles of documents, we all walk around, carrying huge paper files/ folders, one of these days, I shall start a mini revolution, by mentioning a few sacred words :
"Computer files/Data base/Windows Documents/Copy/Paste/Save, and yes DELETE! Paperless, let's go GREEN.

Another long day, left the office late, made it home safe and sound, blackout, I couldn't use the electric stove (no electricity), went back to my crackers and tea diet dinner!

Thursday, 25 June, 2009

A wonderful day, but I was hyper and irritated, I have not eaten any real food in days, but who's counting? I needed to devour some rice/beans, and some beef, "griyo", a little fried goat never hurt a sista! I am about to lose my mind UP IN HERE...

Back at work, business as usual, went for pizza with a gorgeous Rwandan colleague at the Masai Cafe, but would not dare talk about the Rwandan genocide, it was 15 years ago, she must have been a little girl back then, she is so young, early 20's! Gosh! I feel so damn old, hmmm, no wonder I'm known as MMG (Mama Gina) around here.

In the afternoon, another invitation to dinner/drinks, had to decline, I was already committed to the true blue (UN) party. More invitations, no way Jose,"Pole Pole".

Finally made it home, another long day, another long nite, no electricity, and everybody let's get it out of the way now, let's say it together:MMG cannot cook, MMG is still on the crackers/tea diet, MMG is going to bed hungry one more nite, MMG thinks the "lwas"/spirits are against her, after all MMG is a Haitian (natif natal/born & raised ) if it's not the "lwas"/spirits, it must be a political conspiracy.

I swear, If I have to eat leaves/salad or whatever you call it, another nite, I will die! It's almost midnight (TZ time), chatting with the kids, it's only around 5 pm, in New Jersey!

Loving chat with my kids, but I had this mommy feeling that they were trying to tell me something, btw, soccer game over, the US soccer team shocked the Spaniards (US 2-Spain 0). That's enuff for 1 day, zzzzzzz time... good nite kids, oops, they're still trying to tell me something... logged out of Yahoo Messenger/ texted the kids on my cell phone, what in the world were they trying to tell me?

Friday, 26 June, 2009.-PARTY DAY.

Woke up, same old routine, turned on the water heater, brewed some tea, turned on the TV, CNN morning show, walking around, getting ready for work.
Sat down, watching CNN, an anchorman mentioned Michael Jackson, oh well! Another story about MJ's plastic surgeries. Wait a minute, this is unusual, why is Larry King anchoring the morning show on CNN (7:00 am)? Jesus! This is LIVE! Oh! Michael what have you done now?

Jezi, Mari, Josef, Lord Almighty, Dios Mios, Ogou Feray Papa mwen!

Did they? no, they didn't, did they just mention that Michael Jackson died of a heart attack in LA?
Must be hallucination? this is what happens when a true Haitian like MOI, hasn't consumed any "diri ak pwa"(rice/beans) for a few days, we somehow hallucinate, a little dementia, let me log in (laptop), and I will be ok, I will stop hearing things, calm down MMG, everything will be alright! hold on, let me check my emails....

Jesus, now I get it, this is what the kids were trying to tell me last nite, I'm reading the emails, I've lost count, 10... 20 emails, different subject lines, the headlines: MJ SUFFERED A HEART ATTACK … MJ IN A COMA... MJ DEAD!

Now, I was REALLY hallucinating, sweet memories of an akward little girl in Haiti (MOI, in the 80's) dancing to MJ's "Off the Wall" album/moonwalking to Bille Jean...Wait a minute! This is Michael Jackson, we’re talking about, dead of a heart attack at 50 years old, No way Jose, Stop the world, I wanna get off... STOP THE MADNESS!

It's late, about 9:30 am, drove to the office with my Caribbean buddy from T & T, we were both in a state of shock, reminisced about MJ's career, T & T was truly losing it, we're talking a grown man, crying, he hasn't slept 1 sec since last nite, apparently he was at a bar, watching the soccer game and then boom, CNN with the Breaking News:... MICHAEL JACKSON IS DEAD.

At the office, I walked around like a zombie! ate a croissant and drank some OJ, there was still work to be done, the real world doesn't STOP, even for Michael Jackson! (business as usual), but everybody was talking about MJ, and just for the heck of it, In memoriam of the greatest performer in history, I moonwalked in the hallways, oh! yes, MMG still has some moves!

As you well know by now, on Fridays, the office closed at 2:00pm, better yet Staff Members dashed out at 2:00 pm... for once, MMG was amongst the first to escape, the much talked about 12 hours party, was still on!

Bumped into Compadre # 2, and the young, yet brillant Haitian intern, we hugged, chatted, reminisced about MJ, we decided to soil ourselves, a vist to a spa... a bottle of wine and 2 Coca Cola was part of the deal. Don't ask...

At the spa/hair salon: drank expensive wine, spoke French (Oui-Oui) to the Congoleese hairdressers, manicure/pedicure, facial, if it weren't for that horrible MJ news, it would have been a perfect day !

Finally went home to get ready for the party, "Mi compadre" picked me up, around 9:00 pm.
THE PARTY (In Memoriam of MJ)

At the gate, we were greeted by Masai security guards, dressed in their traditional costumes, long walk to the main house... Wow! simply breathtaking, gorgeous home, the entire Tribunal was in attendance... young pups ,old farts, interns, judges, lawyers, paralegals, the impaired, the idiots, savants, even noticed a few "kokobe" in da house ect...first things, FIRST, a quick "inventory" of the bar, set up in the living room, the DJ was under a tent in the back yard, on the other side: the buffet tables, an official Master of the grill was "grilling", all kind of meat, finally after weeks of a salad/crackers, & tea diet, MMG was about to devour some beef/goat/chicken, or whatever they're grilling. The terrace was the dance floor or was it the dance floor was the terrace? anyways, The DJ was spinning MJ non stop, drinks were flowing: wine, beer, champagne, cognac, whisky, you name it, and it hit MOI, NOSTALGIE/ DOUCE MELANCHOLIE, I missed my..., my peeps, my "kk kleren", my buddies, my friends and of course I missed Port-au-Prince, Haiti,"Grandes Antilles."

No one seemed to mind, MJ all nite long....It was IN MEMORIAM OF MJ...

Remember I told you, trouble seems to find me, the party was jamming, suddenly, a Masai security guard/warrior decided to join in the fun, Masai warrior brother, rested his automatic rifle on the floor, he was spinning/dancing to MJ, now MMG was getting nervous, I only had eyes for the automatic rifle, another security guard,walked by, and casually picked up the automatic rifle...MMG was really getting nervous! Now, MMG had eyes for the security guard and the automatic rifle. Perfect opportunity to mingle, walked around, and walked away from the dancing security guard. Introductions all round, the Chief of Chamber from Nigeria, the Chief Prosecutor, the President (St Kitts), the Registrar (Senegal), the Judges and their spouses, African/black gentlemen/women, all welcoming MOI. Meanwhile "la fête continue".. Let's dance to MJ. Compatriot # 1 wasn't feel too well, she went home, but I was still chilling with Compadre #2 , and of course the chauffeur was awaiting...

The chauffeur, and MOI went on a special trip: picking up the young interns, 13 of them altogether! we're going to party, went back to the happening place... DJ was still spinning MJ.... Great food, great convo.

I still haven't met the hostess, the owner of this magnificent home, finally caught up with her in the kitchen, she is a delight, and of course, I thanked her for inviting little MOI, to this magnificent soiree. Madame Hostess is a linguist/ballerina! an artist, and an interior decorator, a chic, classy, witty, sophisticated woman of the world! hence the decor/the ambiance/the soiree and all...

It's 2:00 am, it was getting chilly, needed to moonwalk, the DJ was playing Bongo Flava (Tanzanian music), 2:00 am, isn't it late?", I, of course inquired about the neighbors? Do you see any neighbours Mama Gina?, this is Africa Mama Gina! just dance, Moonwalk MMG!

Finally left the party around 2:30 am. No one was home in Jersey to chat/IM,the kids were probably out to dinner, it's only around 8:30 pm in NJ, well, I'm tired, zzzzz time...

Saturday, 27 June, 2009

9:30 am, door bell, no, not the cleaning lady, I told her 10:00 am, I opened the door and went right back to bed. Finally woke up, I was tired,but I did cook "real food": steak, mushroom, broccoli, corn, white rice, no salad... "je vous en prie "

Phone rang, 3:00 pm, it's Compatriot #1, got to go to church. I need Jesus and a few apostles! here I am, alone in a foreign land, went to church, prayed hard for my family, went back home, showered (No, I did not) watched TV, all about Michael, aaah! at least the kids were around to chat on Yahoo Messenger.

Sunday, 28 June, 2009

Woke up at 10 am, read a little, I've been somewhat inspired to write, since I've been to Tanzania, in a way, writting has kept me sane! On TV, Michael and more Michael, all the videos brought back so many memories, just received an invitation, to visit Mount Kilimanjaro oh! yes, count me in!

4:00pm: Drove to see the most talked about mountain on this continent (MOUNT KILIMANJARO), the third highest in the world. A 40 minutes ride and there it was, a bit cloudy, we couldn't really see the top, we will definitely have a better view in the town of Moshi.

We did make it to Moshi, and there "dans toute sa grandeur et toute sa splendeur" standing tall, Mount Kilimanjaro, snowy top, it was getting colder, snapped a few pictures... simply MAGNIFICENT!

The drive down the mountain was another story, it took about 2 hours. Can we make it to the bottom of the mountain alive? at least 2 more hours drive after the town of Moshi, the villagers were quietly watching a live soccer game,finally some cheerings/clappings, almost a goal...and back to quiet, even Fabrice's soccer games in Glen Ridge are not that quiet!

Well, we had to go back to Arusha, it gets dark early around here! We could only see the airport lights in the horizon...

Back in Arusha, stopped at an Indian sidewalk bbque, bought some barbecued beef, I am eating real food these days, the end what could have been a marvelous weekend if it weren't for that horrible breaking news...

Monday, 29 June, 2009

Same old routine, noticed a colleague wearing "gym attires”, Madam, is going to the gym? I inquired, " yes,The gym, right behind The Serengeti bldg., by the main entrance", tagged along, and sure enough, THE GYM, state of the art equipments/aerobic classes, yoga classes/ect... MMG didn't know that? and may I ask what is the fee to join the gym? Free for Staff Members, Nada, Zilch, No charges, Zero $$$, "gratis ti cheri" Oh really! Mama Gina didn't know, that she could "jere sexy l" for free, made me wonder:
What else have they been keeping away from me? I'm telling you, peeps have been keeping a few valuable secrets away from Mama Gina, UP IN HERE...

June 27, 2009



Michael Jackson

There is an old saying bad news travel in 3’s, the elderly, the sick and the unexpected, well in one week: Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson.
was never my hero, Sinatra, well hubby is a fan! so that would make Mr Sinatra, "Mr Corny", in my book ;-) but Michael…. Let me tell you about MJ.
To you Michael

Lately, we could not understand you
We did not recognize you
Nevertheless, you made us laugh

You made us think
You made us dance
You made us sing
We know that fame comes usually with a price!!!

But somehow, we have learned to separate the art from the artist
You were our Frankenstein
You have broken every barrier
You gave us 40 years of magical entertainment
We stayed up at midnight for the release of your newest videos, so we could have a glimpse of the latest dance moves, you revolutionized fashion, style, looks, culture.
We were in a “State of shock” when we heard the news
What came first to mind is the fact that for years you “Knock me off my feet”
Especially "The way you make me feel"
You really "Turn me on" and "My lonely days are gone”
Because You taught us:
That “We are the World”
And to “Make the world a better place" ,… “For you and for me and the entire human race” “Don’t stop 'till you get enough"
You taught us to take a look at: “The Man in the Mirror”
That Life is “Dangerous”
Not to just stand “Off the Wall”
But to at least try to “Beat it”
That Life should be our “Thriller”
Because we should never see the world as “Black or White”
And that “The World is mine”
Although it can be “Bad, u know it”
“What about us”

Now more than ever we “Wanna rock with you”
And “Will u be there"
No, you are gone we can only “Remember”.

The Michael I want to remember, is/was the best performer of the last 3 generations.
Our King of Pop

Farewell Michael Jackson...

Thank you for the music.
May you rest in peace!
You are still alive in our memory forever
May god accept you ...
Good Bye.........

Gina Sainvil
Arusha, Tanzania
June 27, 2009

Onè respè pou li
Lanmou pou li
Bondye papa, Padone li...
Kòman ta fè blye w la...
Pa p jan m blye w la
(Rock Fanm, June 2008)

June 24, 2009

Journey to Arusha

June 15, 2009 thru June 22, 2009

The week went well, nothing major to report, work is going smoothly, misspelled a few people’s name, Oh well...

I met another Caribbean colleague from T&T, his apartment is located two (2)levels below my apartment, he works as a Security Officer at ICTR, very tall, Trinidadian handsome gentleman.

The much anticipated/awaited/talked about workshop, scheduled for the weekend of Friday, June 19th thru Sunday, June 21st, has been cancelled.

I could actually hear my self thinking, the office building was empty, calm, quiet, I must have been be the only person still working! b/c around here, Staff Members, dashed out at 2:00 pm every Friday. They usually have weekend travel plans: Safaris, Mountain Climbing adventures, or a weekend trip to Nairobi (Kenya).

I left the office arund 4:00 pm, quick stop at an ATM, "access denied", no money/no cash, and the bank was closed. Still went to Shoprite, filled up my cart with goodies, swiped my debit card, still didn’t work! Logged in (online) trying to fix the prob: Nada! Just not my day, the Haitian in me was just trying to beat the system!

Saturday, the cleaning lady was a no-show, I told her last week: "see you, Tuesday, I will attend a workshop this weekend" (the much talked about cancelled workshop) she kindly replied" “yes Madam…”, a break in communications, a malentendu/she actually thought, since I will not be home this weekend, she didn't have to come at all... Oh well! Not much to clean anyways!

Hailed a cab, negotiated the fare, I’m getting smarter, "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on MOI."


Now, this is a long process, let us go thru it step by step:

Step 1.- I needed cash $$$ pronto, had to write myself a check to get some $$$, Just imagine!

Now stay with me:

Step 2.- A trip to the Money Exchange dealer, one never knows what to expect, and the rates may change daily, hourly, weekly or is it all about the trader's mood? Last week, I exchanged some American dollars at the rate of 1330 TShillings for $1 US dollar, this week, it is 1200 TShillings for $1 US dollar!
I truly need to ask around town, what person/company has the best rate!

Step 3.- Shoprite, sista had some cash! What did I tell you? around here, the rate is 1315 TShillings for $1 US dollar! filled up my cart/remember sista has some cash now :), in the background, a captivating song was playing, had to inquire about the artist, "well, it's Marlo", someone informed me! Asked the taxi driver: "Can we stop at a music store”, "Yes Madam" was the reply, I’m telling you such gentleman in Tanzania ... Ooops, sista with cash may need some extra cash!

Step 4.- Another visit to a different exchange place, the rate is of course higher, small but important detail: I've forgotten that Tanzania is mostly a Muslim country, they are not into pop music/dancing! even though Mr. taxi driver, told me: "Yes, we can go to a music store", still had to ask around for directions; finally, someone told me where I can buy the Marlo CD.
Music Store: purchased 2 CD's, a compilation of the latest Tanzanian hits, and the now famous Marlo CD, Oh dang! It’s “MARLAW".

On my way back home, I was getting impatient, couldn't wait to hear this guy Marlo oops! "Marlaw", finally home, emptied the trunk, the driver carried the bags to the kitchen, thanked, and paid him for the 4 hours ride, very cheap, I sort of like this country!

While putting the groceries away, jammed to Marlaw, no one was around in the apt. complex, they were all traveling for the weekend.... blasted Marlaw all nite long!

BTW Tanzanian music is called “Bongo Flava” and Marlaw is the latest phenomenom, actually Marlaw is the artist's stage name, his real name is Marima Lawrence. (I know you are going to google Mr. Marlaw, so I've spared you the trouble)
For your listening pleasure…..

Lunch Time: a short nap, Marlaw's CD was still playing, but it’s Church Time, sista needs to pray, you know, being alone in a foreign country, thousands of miles away from my family! I need Jesus, the 12 apostles, the saints, the angels, the archangels, The Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit, and of course Buddha and Allah are welcome!

Compatriot #1 picked me up, destination: THE CHURCH, it was a rather boring church service, caught a few zzzz's, but the music was entertaining.

Back home about 2 hours later, couldn't cook anything, couldn't even boil water, no electricity, the generator was working, but not enough power for the electric stove, finally around 7 pm, the electricity "came back", cooked dinner, burned the meat/didn't burn down the building, devoured the meat anyway, 2 glasses of wine... bed time: 1:30 am. Tomorow, 21 June, 2009 is my birthday!.

OK one of you texted me at 2 am! to wish me Happy Birthday

21 June, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, and don't ask,"How old am I?"

Woke up late 11:00 am, scrubbed the burnt pots, showered, a few, well a lot of friends called/texted/emailed/IM'ed ect...just to wish MOI a Happy B’day!
Birthday brunch with Compadre # 1, nice and quiet place, not too crowded, sat by the pool, great sunny weather, a miracle, b/c so far after about 1 month in Tanzania, I’ve only witnessed 4 sunny days.

Back home, received more emails/texts from friends, family members ect...cried while reading the b'day wishes, well, I smiled while reading the texts/emails and I cried after...

Monday, 22 June, 2009

Back to the office, a nice bouquet of red roses on my desk, a rather sweet gesture from my colleagues, No vases! Someone improvised, and used a huge water bottle.

Monday, 22 June, 2009 10:00 am Tanzania Time

Brouhaha in the the Tribunal, they have reached a verdict. Somehow, I was thinking of the OJ verdict, my god! That was about 15 years ago! thoughts of Rodney King (Can we all get along?). Went downstairs to the court room, this is LIVE in person, En Vivo! I was about to witness a verdict! A matter of life or death, this is not Judge Judy.

Compatriot # 2 is a Staff Member in the Protocol, I had a VIP seat, still couldn't see the accused face (security reason). We all stood/sat behind a thick glass/earphones on, nervous, awaiting the verdict... quite a crowd around, colleagues/interns/guests/ "joudas" and all ect... Nervously waited!
The Prosecution requested life imprisonment, Clemency of the court, the sentence :
30 years!
Apparently, the now convicted gentleman (guilty as charge) was the only one in his village to attend University! He was a respectable member of the community! but Mr. Respectable played a huge role in the Rwanda genocide, he used his power/"respectability" to kill/murder/influence/incite violence in his village, he is in his 50's, quick math, when and if he ever gets out jail, he will be in his 80's,
Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time!

Back home, long day, verdict day, still couldn't cook, blackout, generator was working, but the electric stove was not working (lack of power)! Ive been on a chips/crackers diet, tonight I barely chewed on some green salad, still hungry, and I needed some real food! zzzzzzz time, going to zzzzzz still hungry!

June 18, 2009

Haitian American Celebrities: Propaganda,Myth or Pride?

Haitians in cyberspace are giving African-American celebrities added publicity by identifying them as either Haitians or of Haitian descents.

When I first migrated to the US (in the 80's), I was told by a few, who shall remain nameless, that the few afro TV news anchormen/women in the Tri-State area, were Haitians/or of Haitian descents. Lately, thanks to or DAMN the internet, a long list of so called "Haitian entertainers" has been published/circulated/emailed around with the names of so called "famous Haitians" , in the US entertainment industry. We have a tendency to be overly proud of ourselves, is it an obsession or a need to belong?

First, and foremost, we need to understand that when an African-American states that he/she is a Creole; it doesn’t mean that he/she is Haitian (born/raised); it means that he/she is from a mixed race from Louisiana (Southern). It is true that a small group of slaves from St. Domingue were taken to Louisiana by their masters
(Read the biography of Henry Christophe), and constant travels were documented in those days, I'm certain, some Haitians slaves settled in Louisiana.

The word Creole:
In the
Caribbean region, the term Creole is sometimes used to describe anyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, who was born and raised in the region. It is sometimes used to refer to persons of European, African, or mixed Afro-European descent such as mixed race people ( mulattoes). It also refers to the syncretism of the various cultures (African, French, British, Spanish and Portuguese among others) which influenced the area.
In the United States
, Louisiana, the word "Creole"usually refers to people of any race or mixture thereof who are descended from settlers in colonial French Louisiana.

There are a quite a few videos on youtube.com of the singer Beyonce, stating that she is a Creole. Bootylicious Beyonce uttered a few Haitian "Kreyòl" words. Needless to mention, that the youtube videos are quite popular amongst Haitians, over 200 000 hits, and counting! Hot and Sexy Beyonce/Jay Z's wife have the honour to join, the ever-growing Haitian superstars list:
Usher, Oprah Winfrey, Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, and Mrs.Robinson (Michelle Obama’s mother), Harry Belafonte, just to name a few. W
e haven't claimed Flavor Flav yet, just give it time !

What is behind this frenzy and how do we stop it?

June 12, 2009

My Journey to Arusha, Tanzania/East Africa

Monday, May 18, 2009,

I boarded a Boeing 747,could have been a 757,from New Jersey, Newark Airport,destination:Tanzania,Africa,even a 4 hours stop in Amsterdam,couldn't dampen my spirit,who ever invented the Business Class Airport Lounge(showers/free drinks/food/comfy lounge chairs/wireless/ free Internet connection,should get a straight pass to heaven.

Mission: 3 months assignment,ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda)the motherland,my earlier trips to the continent of Africa,(Egypt,Morocco)in the 90's,seemed so far away,this is a new beginning...EASTERN AFRICA,BABY,THE MOTHERLAND!

9 hours from Amsterdam/Tanzania,finally, we landed at Kilimanjaro Airport (Tanzania), on Tuesday,19 May,2009! 24 hours indoor, hope you understand, that I was the very first one off the plane... walking on the tarmac, on a crisp African night, this is home, this is Africa, did I mention the Mother land, perfect temperature, little did I know...

The Welcoming Committee:

A young man, my name typed neatly on a piece of paper, the usual greetings, fast forward to Customs/ Immigration, the blue passport (UN) worked wonders, my "laisser Passer" (LP) & bags were stamped/signed/sealed/delivered! This is Africa, the Motherland OOPS!Must have been that blue diplomatic passport... I LIKES!


I'm in the parking lot, here comes the familiar UN bus, aaaahh the aroma reminded me, of sweet home Haiti, smaller infrastructures, but well organized,no mobs, no "mendyan"(beggars), only travelers/tourists/airport workers, security guards are allowed in the airport,this is Africa, the mother land!, and so far I LIKES....

UN EXPRESS BUS: MOI and a couple of other colleagues, the driver is missing, oh lord! here comes Mr. Security,armed with an automatic rifle, I almost fainted, my colleague assured me, that "all will be ok", I felt right at home (Haiti), awaited other UN colleagues, from different countries/different flights/different schedules... amongst the UN bus passengers: a female lawyer from Toronto,on a 6 months assignment, I was still nervous, kept my good eye on the security guard, skinny fellow, about the size of the automatic rifle, but this is security, when in Rome do like the Romans, when in Tanzania do like ... you get the picture!

Ok here we go, oh lord, they drive on the left side of the road, a little something left by the British colonists,long drive about 1 hour to Arusha, where I will be staying for the next 3 months,90 days...you do the math in hours!

Did I mention "skinny security guard" armed with an automatic rifle is riding with us along with another guard,speed limit "non existent" in this country! we're driving very, very fast... had to ask "why are we driving like an Indy 500 driver?" my colleagues/fellow bus riders assured MOI, since we're riding on a UN bus, we don't want any rocket attacks, hence the security, and the Indy 500 ride,...SAY WHAT? if we don't get kill by rocket fire, there is a strong possibility that we may get kill in a bus/car accident, well, step on it bus driver, who wants an attack? especially on my very first day in Africa, the Motherland! Lord,do I feel right at home(Haiti)?,speed limit non existent, possibilities of an attack... this is Africa, the motherland! I LIKES.


From the UN bus windows, I could see the "paysage", it's a long drive, and I was trying, just trying, not to think of the armed security guards. My views & observations so far: young Tanzanian men/women walking, electricity available, even in the huts... oh Lord I’ve seen the light! but please Lord, can you make our driver slow down, just a little? Oh! now, the driver gets upset, stopped the bus, said something in Swahili (No comprende)...I truly felt at home in Haiti: short tempered/automatic rifles/speed limit non existent... closed my brown eyes, thoughts of my 2 kids back in NJ, maybe, I can still catch a flight back, oh!well wishful thinking!

Jesus of Nazareth! Skinny security guard is napping, catching a few zzzzzz's, HELLO SECURITY! still thinking of my kids, they must be at school now, recess/lunch... wake up, Mr.Security Guard!

We have reached our destination,dropped a UN colleague at the local hotel,drove by the UN office building, finally made it to my apt. complex, my sublet for the next 3 months... 67 steps to climb to reach my apartment, counted them all, opened the door, electricity was OFF, wanted to go to a hotel, but Mr. Building Manager, fixed the electricity problem.

A quick tour of my sublet, 3 bedrooms, 3 inches of dust, no hot water,Ice Cold...Brrrrrrr... Sponge bath all around! Fixing my bed, packed my own sheets, and it's so cold, so cold, that I went to bed with my coat on!


Woke up at 6:30 am, another cold shower, getting wiser already, went straight for the sponge bath, awaiting for the UN driver, he was late, actually never showed up, I need a cab, a taxi pronto...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Typical UN procedures: NY ID,and LP at the gate, another security officer, clearance, finally, he asked me to proceed to the Serengeti building. Sounded so exotic to me! He escorted me to my boss' office, such gracious gentlemen in Tanzania, Africa.
I was greeted by all and introduced to all, then a Kenyan lady (a sista)introduced me to all of my other colleagues in HR.
My name is Gina from NY 'till today, I am known as Gina from NY.
I was shocked, a long corridor with offices all of them closed, a quick knock and you enter. Everyone is locked up in an office, according to your rank you can have a private office, or share one with one or two, three colleagues. Hmmm, they gave me my personal and private office, I must be important, :)

I sat down and waited, a colleague came,and introduced himself (we have exchanged e-mail before my arrival). He gave me a few papers to sign,and off I went to my first assignment outside of NY.

Sat at my desk, a knock and young fellow entered to tell me that he is about to take me around for "check in."

"Check in" is a long process, you need to meet with every head of office, from security, IT, accounts, payroll(most important), medical etc...

I did half of the "checking" and it was time for lunch. In the meantime, I just met, a security officer from Jamaica who was so delighted to have another Caribbean person around. Another knock at my door, not only am I important, I'm already popular, well, it is simply, Mr. Jamaican security sending a Haitian compatriot my way, surprise, there are Haitians in Tanzania, HAITIANS IN DA HOUSE !!!!

Empty cafeteria. Cannot pay with US currency and they don’t accept debit/credit cards. I went to the store next door and exchange for T-Shillings, the local currency. Looks like a lot of money.

Lunch paid, still have so much time in my hands, lunch is from 12:30 to 2:00, what a luxury! This is the motherland indeed...

Back to the office, cannot log on the computer yet, browsing papers/reading whatever I can, trying to anyways, and here comes my guide, to continue the now famous "check in".
Around 4 pm I was done and nothing else to do. My Haitian compatriot called and offered to take me around to buy what I need.
In the meantime, a lady came to clean up the apartment. I went with my compatriot to the UN duty free shop, shopping for mattress covers, pillows, throws and comforters, then we proceeded to Shoprite and bought a couple of items, I'm already wiser, using local currency!

Mi compadre, compatriot came back home with me to check on the place and explained everything. Thanks to her, now I know, how everything works, from the hot water to the stove every plugs has an on and off buttom in the middle. Now I understand, why the stove did not work, and the hot water, just turn it on at least half an hour before I take a shower. No more sponge bath! In case of a blackout, now, I know how to turn on the generator! Now, I feel a little more relieved and more confident; and what do you know? 10 minutes later: Blackout!


Did I mention I haven't stopped crying? I've been crying non stop, I’ve cried myself to sleep and I wake up crying. I miss my kids, my babies, my prince and princess (Fabrice and Krystel)...I've cried me a river, Finally, I took a warm long shower, put on my PJ’s and went to bed,I was finally warm.

Oh, I was scared, tired and did not know how long or how little I slept with the lights on & the curtain opened. Below my windows, across the street are 2 bars, happening places, they stay opened until 11:00pm don’t know how long I stared at the window looking at them.

Thursday, May 21 2009

4:00 am... A long, loud chanting woke me up, rather scary, especially when you do not understand the language. Sounded like the entire town, seems it is coming down from the mountain.
Woke up, turned on the hot water, brewed some tea, showered and got dressed. The cleaning lady knocked on the door, communication might be difficult, she doesn't speak English/nor French! I somehow, managed to understand her, and I think she definitely understood me, then again she may not, all I know she said YES MAM 'M

My colleague/neighbour offered MOI a ride to work. He is the Chief Budget Officer (CBO) of ICTR. He was very kind and explained in a nutshell everything I needed to know about the building, how things operate etc... He apologized and told me that he works long hours sometimes until 2:00 am, that I may not see him.
Later on, while climbing the 67 stairs, met other neighbors and realized that there are only 2 apartments on the 4th floor, the CBO and MOI.
Below me, there are 4 other apartments, an International lawyer and her daughter, Missy is an intern from Oxford University, a Security Officer, The Chief of Medical Services and another Doctor with her two girls who attend the International school in Tanzania.
I yet to know who the other tenants are!!!!
Building A and Building B, my official residence: Building B

Arrived at work,8:30 am, still the same famous “check in", and finally went to the IT department and requested a comp/laptop. In the afternoon after lunch, they came and hooked me up; in the meantime, work is piling up on my desk… Oh lord, pile of papers, files, I forgot what it is like. I asked about shared drives where everything is, they look at me like I was from Mars or something. Now that I get connected, I decided to write to all my friends and let everyone know that I arrive ok.

Did I say that I am still crying…? I kind of laugh at myself for crying, but I cry some more.

Left my door opened, people going back and forth with files… look out of the windows, beautiful lawn, well manicured, well maintained better than our so famous NY Headquarter garden.

Lunch hour: went to town to open a bank account, long lines, long wait, just to find out, that I need a letter and so many other documents.

A new colleague came knocking, she introduced herself, another compatriot, we are 3 Haitians, while talking, I realized that we grew up in the same neighborhood in Haiti, she stayed on for over an hour talking... Was it normal? sure was, I do not have much to do.

Went to her house for lunch ate black rice with salmon and avocado… true delight
Came back after 2 pm and work, more visits...

I was leaving and my compatriot #1 offered to take me home, and do more shopping. Wow! I said 3 Haitians in this joint how wonderful, then we all met I automatically realized that there was tension between the 2 compatriots, they were very cordial but very dry... I said alright...

We went to other stores and gather more things for me and took me home.

I climbed the 67 stairs, would I lose weight? This is a forced diet! I feel rather secure, there are 3 guards with guns and clubs at the gate, gentlemen, who will carry your bags and all, $1 US dollar goes along way in Tanzania!

Unpacked my food, charged my phone and turned on the TV

69 channels available on TV, 20 playing Indian movies 24/7, 10 channels where the game of cricket is king (shades of the British empire), 10 with soccer/football, BBC is representing, so is CNN, 2 Al Jazeera stations in English & Arabic, a couple of French channels, a prayer channel (Lord, have mercy), HBO, ESPN, and a few Tanzanians channels here and there playing Kenyan soap operas. I, of course, settled for the Kenyan soap operas in English.
Rather cold on the couch, I 'm wearing my winter night ensemble(sweater/flannel PJ, throws)
No heat, it is usually 40 degrees and the temp usually dip at night!

Friday, May 22 2009
Chauffeur came to pick me up, made an extra key for the cleaning lady, noticed a couple of young entrepreneurs in the lobby, AFRICA ON LINE, they looked intelligent, (whatever that means) asked about internet connection, one of them informed MOI, that internet services will cost around $ 50 dollars, sound reasonable...

Compadre # 2 came to my office, more chit chat. She took me to her office in the other building, this is where "l'action se passe", where the judges/lawyers, and prisoners are.

Friday, no lunch, office closed at 2 pm, I naively asked why? Simple answer: "so the Muslims can go to the Mosque..."
OK great, went home early, nothing to do, watched TV, drank tea and cried some more.

More unpacking, cleaned the closets and this time I really emptied all my suitcases/bags.

Now, I really don't have anything to do, watch some more TV, btw, I never watched so much TV in my life,I'm really getting into African soap operas! It’s not even 5 pm on a Friday nite, I'm not used to have so much time in my hand.

Texted the kids via cell phone, and went to bed, crying some more….

Saturday,May 23,2009

Door bell, it’s 8:06 am, who rings a door bell/any door bell at 8:00 am on a Saturday? Jumped out of bed, oh! Well, it's the cleaning lady! By 11:am, she was done, even asked me if I had anything else, extra laundry, ironing, replied a short: "NO", and next Saturday, please come after 11:00 am. Didn't mean to be rude but come on 8:00 am on a Saturday, is a bit too much for MOI.

I made brunch, and suddenly (around 1:00 pm) I had a HA HA moment, Dang! I just realized that I have nobody to talk to, hmmm let me do the math, it's 1:00 pm in Arusha, so it is 6:00 am in the States, may be I should pull a "cleaning lady stunt", and call everybody I know back in the States, just wake them up... they are all friends/family, they love me, I don't think they would mind...YEAHHH SURE!!!

4:15 pm, finally someone to talk to, Compatriot #1, picked me up, it's church time... ALLELUIA... ALLELUIA, packed a little bag, staying overnite at compatriot # 1.

Compatriot # 1's house after church: Haitian food, white rice with codfish, a delight! She doesn't drink and have a nice stash of "tafia", well, you know, ;-) we talked, got to know each other better, and did I mention the stash of alcoholic beverages ...

Sunday,May 24,2009

Compatriot # 1 has Vonage phone services, I can talk to the kids for free, the kids are attending a funeral in Brooklyn, an old family unfortunately passed away. They sounded OK, they sent me a couple of pix, they looked fine, so being a mommy, I cried some more.

Next day, Sunday, compatriot #1 brewed some Haitian hot chocolate, I'm not feeling too well, she gave me a spoon of liver oil... yack! and a couple of vitamins C.

I think I’m coming down with a cold, cannot still adjust to the temperature in Arusha. After dinner, we went for a ride, went to the mall, and visited a gated community where most UN colleagues reside.

Did I mention that I reside amongst the common folks like MOI? right in the middle of town.

I came home around 5 pm, washed my hair, showered, and cried some more...

Monday,May 25,2009

I am feeling sick, brewed some tea, gathered my energy, my strength and went to work.

Talked to the Internet guy, and he guaranteed, he will set up my internet connection for the reasonable price of $ US 50.00 dollars.

Hailed a cab, I know the rate 2,000 Tshillings for the ride, handed the cab driver 200,000 Tshillings instead, and of course he said: Thank you and slowly drove away. A few hours later, it hit me... 2000... 200,000 ... a few extra zeroes! DANG!

The Office: nothing is working,3 techies, plugged/unplugged/lifted/moved/chatted/called/analyzed ect...nothing is working, NADA!

I don't feel any energy! really came down with something, a cold!read, and tried to prioritize things, asked my super NY colleagues for help, some great suggestions from my NY colleagues, read some more to got acquainted with things.

Tuesday,May 26,2009

Nothing to report except that I am on my 3rd trip to the bank, trying to open a saving account, so many documents to sign, so many details...
Went to a Chinese restaurant with Compatriot # 2, decent food, came back a bit late, to the office.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Quiet day at the office, of course I cannot send or receive emails, this could be a problem, since I have loads of work !

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Finally I opened a savings account in Arusha, at the office, long meetings, I' m feeling better/stronger !

Friday,May 29,2009

Short day, offices closed at 2:00 pm, went downtown to buy things in bulk, and went to the open market, surprisingly clean, and quiet! I have not been to one ever since I left Haiti. Childhood memories of my Granma taking me to the open market in Port-au-Prince, those were the days!

Compatriot # 1 has a "pratik"for those of you who don't speak "kreyòl", a "pratik" is a merchant/seller/ " machan n" that you've been dealing with/buying from, for years,sometimes for generations, someone that you trust. The car's trunk is full of goodies.
Back home, I unpacked all my goodies, washed the veggies/fixed the fridge!

Did not have a fridge for 1 week, there were 2 of them in the apartment, food left by my previous occupants, and no electricity for months, the smell was unbearable. They took the fridges to be washed.
Later on realized the fridges were not working. A specialist came, one is working at least. The other fridge is still MIA!

Saturday,May 30,2009

The cleaning lady came at 11:00 am, I was up, and I washed my hair, showered, did some crying, played some music and try to be in a better mood. Gave her 10,000 TShillings to purchase fruits,veggies and water. Got great fruits, bananas, apples, tangerines, great avocadoes etc.
The internet guy showed up price went up, it should have been a sign, I gave him $100.00 dollars, to buy an internet phone, which can be hooked to my laptop, and hopefully I will have internet until I leave Arusha…Just add another $100.00 dollars to my budget!

Bumped into internet guy on the stairways, on my way to church, he gave me the phone and told me that I can start making local phone calls, and Monday, he will come and hook me up, hope this time it's for good.
Went to church, and went to compatriot #1, so I can talk to my kids back in Jersey.

Compatriot #2 Chauffeurs’ came to pick me up, special invitation to a Haitian dinner, on the menu, Haitian bouillon, really delicious, good wine, etc..., stayed until 10:30 pm, Chauffeur escorted to my apartment, such gentleman in Africa.

I'm so excited, finally, I can call my peeps, friends, family ect... or so I hoped and prayed! Did I say that the phone cost me 100 dollars?

Bed time, washed my face, and somehow managed to hook my phone to the laptop. Well, I'm getting tired, may be tomorrow.

Sunday, May 31 2009

Stayed home the whole day, read, listened to music, watched some ball games, chatted with the kids on my cell and cried some more.

Monday, June 1 2009

Went downstairs to the internet guy, “Africa Online”, and told him to complete the installation that I started the nite before. He promised to give it to me later. Promises, promises...

At work, finally everything is working, am feeling better, still sneezing, but I am a trooper, I' m taking my vitamins daily, feeling stronger, still sneezing a bit but "c’est la vie"! The temp is getting warmer, still cold but...

Knock, knock, Oh! Well, its compatriot #1, she’s with a young intern from Texas, a law student, and to top it all, she is Haitian; we are taking Tanzania by storm, hurray! That makes 4 of us, we’re talking "Konpa", Rhum Barbancourt, "diri ak pwa" (RICE AND BEANS) and all... we shall see.

My desk is full of pending cases. One at a time, just be patient Gina.

In the meantime, colleagues are calling and emailing, visiting Gina from NY, I'm trying to get a "feel" of everyone, one by one they come/go, a long procession.

Finally around 9 pm, the door bell rang. It's the internet guy, soon I will be able to chat/check emails, IM's act... or so I thought, Internet guy, informed me, that I may need additional cables and/or a more expensive phone, $150 dollars will take care of the problem!

Hmmm, Am I getting played here, is it a scam? You know, woman alone in a foreign land, is the brother taking advantage of me? We talked, argued, he promised by tomorrow, everything should be fine, meanwhile ... another nite texting on my cell phone!

Tuesday,June 2,2009

Had a good, today! Didn’t even use my AK! (Oops! sorry rap song). I'm starting to get some work done in the office, I am getting cases to work on/setting up new policies etc... After work, I rushed home, hoping/praying that the internet is working, Wishful thinking...

Wednesday, June 3 2009

Compatriot #2 got me a modem for my laptop, cost:$60 dollars. I'm finally connected; I can email/IM/chat with my kids/friends/family.

Thursday, June 4 2009

Requested my $100 back, we shall see.

Friday, June 5 2009

Remember I felt some tensions between the 2 compatriots, well, it is Friday, the office closed early (2:00 pm), NY style got to get some cases out my desk, and Gina from NY is in full swing.
Compatriot #2 called, noticed her phone number, did not pick up, have a lot of work piled on my desk, 10 minutes later a knock, she entered the room, complained about MOI not picking up my phone, I simply replied: "you should have left a message." She insisted, showed me how to retrace a call, mild argument! but I am getting annoyed, my patience is running thin, she sat down and kept complaining about my behavior, my attitude, ladadi...ladada, now she is really out of bounds, telling me/asking me, why am I avoiding her? Why have I changed?

I dropped my pen on the table, got up and gave her a piece of my mind in good ole French! Since you all know me, you pretty much have an idea how the whole thing went down! After a good 5 minutes, I opened my office's door, and asked her to leave. Finally, I can do some work! I miss my kids!
Called a few people/texted some to comment about the incident! I know, I should have been more patient, more tolerant, we shall see...

Saturday, June 6 2009

I got braids African braids baby! Thanks to my cleaning lady, cost about 2000 Tshilling. It would have cost me $200 dollars in the States.

Sunday, June 7 2009

Woke up around 10:00 am and started cooking: seasoned filet mignon, prime meat and cheap, boiled corn, broccoli, potatoes that I will steam up for the rest of the week.

Big parade around town, school kids (boys/girls)in colorful uniforms, thousand of kids, smiling, parading around, in matching skirts/blouses/pants/sweaters,simply grandiose... and NO I didn't cry this time ;-)

Compatriot #1 picked me up, then we pick up the intern, we're going to the fair, 3 Haitians in a car. We laughed at each other, spoke "kreyòl" non stop... we had a ball, but first stopped at the museum of cultural heritage, great exposition, great art to buy, Tanzanites stones, rather pricey tho!!!

Off to the fair we go this is my kind of place, now are you with me... Just imagine a place where they give you a free bottle if you're adventurous to have a taste... ok you still don't get it, HAVE A TASTE GET FREE BOTTLE! and I just wished a few of you were right here in Tanzania, you know who you are….!!!
Needless to say I didn’t embarrass my peeps, lived up to my rep! and received quite a few free bottles, well ok, got a lot/mucho free bottles!

Lunch at the fair was quite an affair (kind of like fair and affair together). On the menu: grilled beef, chicken, settled for the beef, listened to some great music and I had a local beer called Kilimanjaro. Great show by the Masai men, camel riding... great exhibition. Had a wonderful time.

Back home, dumped my clothes in the hamper, showered (dusty day) brewed some tea, watched some more TV... cried a little and went zzzzzzzzzzzz....

Monday,8 June 2009

Nothing eventful in the morning, lunch at 12:30, had a delicious salad, then my boss invited me to lunch,"tomorrow" I replied: "Just ate, boss"!

Around 1:00 pm, I went out with 2 local ladies, we parted ways for a while, I wanted to go to the photo store to buy accessories for my digital camera and print larger copies of my kids' pix and the other 2 local had their own things...

First store: the guy at the counter, told me that he couldn't help me, maybe, I should go to another store, further down the street. He sent one of his clerks with me to show me the store; he didn't have to since the store was just a few steps down the street. Quite nice of him, thanked him and with my escort, walked to the other store.

Second store: I'm greeted by an Indian guy, very helpful. I took out my wallet just to verify if I have enough cash for the job, in the meantime, 3 women walked in the store and ordered some pix of the president or something, 2 ladies on my left side, and one on my right, the one on the right said something in Swahili, which of course I didn't understand, she started touching the pix of my kids, I politely told her not to touch the pix, reached out to take the pix away from her, put down my wallet on the counter, got the pix back...the 3 ladies walked out of the store, turned around, my wallet is gone. The lady touching the pix was just a decoy, while the other 2 were snatching my wallet! How naive of me!

I ran after them, yelling for all to hear: "she stole my wallet", I grabbed the one that I think stole my wallet, threw her against a wall. A mob gathered, I told a guy "she stole my wallet" he grabbed one lady, now, I'm in the moment, IT'S ON BABY! I'm blocking the other 2 with my long legs, a quick 1...2 combo, a left, a straight right and a vicious uppercut, she dropped my wallet on the ground and I let go. A mob circled one of the ladies, they wanted to call the police. I said: "it's ok, just let her go”. Later on, I learned that she would have been lynched by the people, they do not tolerate, thieves, robbers ect... Just Imagine,I would have been responsible for a lynching!

Anyway, went back to the store and continue my business, people were applauding me, and were so apologetic, everyone on the streets were saying "sorry". A little humor, now that I'm ok, just imagine MOI running after the ladies with my big boobs flapping my face in Arusha, Tanzania!

Later on, I realized that it was kind of stupid running after them, but at that time it was pure instinct and adrenaline.

I proceeded to the phone company (Tigo)to have my local cell phone connected, and went to a restaurant to meet with another colleague.
A Phone call ftom Compatriot #2 called to let me know how ashamed she was by my attitude towards her. Is she for real? I don’t think so, quite persistent... not that I am concerned.

Tuesday, June 9 2009

The office is closed, housekeeping details! There are pending cases that should be attended to, so said the Chief. Then I went to lunch with the Chief, great lunch, funny guy too, I didn't stop laughing, trying to forget my earlier boxing match!

The Chief ordered the driver to take me to town to go get the pix in the store where my wallet was stolen.
I did not know that I could just go down and call for a driver to take me to any places that I want to go! Lord almighty, so many UN SUVs, I thought they were for the judges, anyways, now I know.

Went back to the office, time for a Video conference meeting with all HR, NY leading of course, Vienna, Geneva, Nairobi, Bangkok, Addis Ababa, Santiago, Kigali and Arusha on the new system effective on 1 July. 1 hour and a half later, I went back to the office, did some paper work, but I was "invited" to a funeral by a colleague, I wrote a sympathy note for the family, they somehow like my handwriting, ever knew I had great penmanship.

We called the UN drivers they drove us to the house of the dead. Different culture, different tradition, everyone stayed in the backyard, singing, eating, and drinking.
All the women in the family are in one room on the floor, all wrapped up, seating barefoot in the same position for hours and not looking at people. Different strokes for different folks! But my god, most if not all, didn’t turn off their cell phones!
Later on find out, that one just graduated from LSE (master degree) and one PHD from Sweden. One got to admire the fact that these women still have respect for their traditions/culture and values.
In the house of the dead, they served water and some patties, I was the only one, bold and adventurous enough, among the 15 or so colleagues, to taste the cuisine, hey! Got to experience everything… This is the motherland!

We prayed and left, the UN driver dropped me at home and informed me to sign up for daily pick up/drop off instead of taking a taxi daily. Did I mention that it is not recommended to walk around solo/alone….

Wednesday, June 10 2009

The UN driver is late, well only by 5 minutes. Work went well, I have so much to do, I' am already known and the phone is ringing as well as e-mail, I actually received more e-mails than when I was in NY, well I' am managing...I sort of like being busy.
I heard someone say:" Gina pole, pole this is not NY”, "pole, pole" means "RELAX,TAKE A CHILL PILL/CHILLAX "ooh! You think I'm working too fast, guess what people? I only have 3 months to finish the job! Get used to it, Gina cannot "pole pole".
3:30pm: a short visit to the medical office, I finally got my meningitis vaccine and a second dose of hepatitis B.

Pass 5:30 pm:

I think, I am alone in the office, so much work, cannot leave yet, at least another hour. All of a sudden, loud voices, people are shouting, very unusual. Must be something, Now, I'm really worried, the voices are louder! Somebody called out my name: "GINA...GINA! and like the true New Yorker that I am, I grabbed my purse, and ventured (actually ran) out of the door... Now panicky voices are asking about the tremour, "Gina, did you feel the tremor?" escusa me, TREMOR as in EARTHQUAKE, I asked in a trembling voice, Yes, they replied, "it's common if not normal around here, we always have tremours/earthquakes" in fact they added: "a couple of months ago, the building swayed for 2 minutes, though the building is ”earthquake proof" OH!Lord, the things one learns in life, here I am on a 3 months mission, and I'm in an earthquake area... Just my luck! But seriously tho, I'm shaken by the tremours, had to call home and talked to my kids and called a few colleagues in NY.

Well, earthquake day is over, I went home a bit late 7:00 pm (NY style)I deserve a rest,I’ve earned it! Brewed some tea... relaxed, and I miss the kids!

Thursday, June 10 2009

All is well; I'm really working hard, cleaning up all paper works and passing it on... NEXT! I'm crying a bit less these days! and then TADA.... I CREATED A BLOG! THIS HERE BLOG! I think, it’s the best way to keep in touch with friends/family/colleagues ect...

Friday,June 11 2009

Did not do much. Town Hall meeting from 9:45 am til noon! Another visit to the medical office, they are getting to know me by now, I do have a stiff neck and my back is killing me!

Compatriot #2 is looking for me… oh! lord… I need to work on at least one case...1:30pm she showed up, ok I will be nice and understanding(I'm a Christian) we chatted but I still managed to do one memo and answered 6 e-mails while talking to her. Time to leave. She invited me to dinner on Sunday, "We shall see" I replied.

Went out with my local friend/colleague and the 2 interns, one Haitian and one American. We took a UN car, destination the Snake Park and the Masai Museum.
Big snakes, quick tour for me, I am really scared of these animals, and from my angle, the glass cages do not seem thick enough, I swear, some of those snakes were eyeing me! between the snakes, crocodiles/alligators, "kayiman" or whatever they were, I just could not take it, quick exit, noticed a sign, TGIF,it's a bar!

MASAI MUSEUM.-The tour guide refused to speak English, Brotha is convinced that I'm a Masai! "why do you need to speak English, when you are one of us? "he asked, well as far as I know, I'm Haitian born/raised, may be in my previous life, I was a Masai, and who knows may be, my great great great grand father was a Masai warrior, and now Mr. Tour Guide is really upset b/c I can identify the Masai household items by name, well, they look like items used by Haitians peasants (my peeps). What can I say! Mr. Tour Guide is ready to swear that I'm a Masai born/raised.

Off to the Masai tribe huts, time to play DRESS UP, and a funny thing happened... just picture an old Masai man talking with his "ding a ling" floating around!

Off to camel riding, didn't ride this time, I’ve experienced it a few years ago in Egypt, once is enough! Tour is over, called the UN driver to no avail, we forgot to make the "pick up" reservation!
Now we have to ride the "dala dala", quite an experience. Just like the Tap Tap drivers in Haiti, this is not driving, this is BATTLE OF THE FITTEST/STRONGEST/FASTEST/MEANEST ... no speed limit!

Finally made it in 1 piece to the center of town, stopped at the drugstore, and picked up the "medikaman" for my stiff neck.

Took a cab home, one "dala dala" ride is enuff for the day! Cooked dinner/a shot of whisky/some wine... ooops! Time to chat with the kids. Zzzzzzz time (1:00 am)

Saturday, June 12 2009

Breakfast, took a cab to a spa/hair salon for manicure/pedicure/facial/waxed and all, for the incredible price of $50 dollars! Hopefully, I won't have an allergic reaction to the products they used.
Back home, lunch consisted of a salad! texted... read a little...wrote a little...napped...showered ...


Arrived early (6:00 pm) very first to arrive. Great food, guests are arriving one by one with a bottle, oh! I am not leaving tonite. On the menu, glazed ham, chicken, fish, all kind of salad, black rice, and seasoned potatoe. I went back to the buffet for seconds and thirds/had some Barbancourt!

The attendees: 3 Haitians(natif/natal), 2 locals, 3 Liberians, 1 Cameroonian, 1 Ghanaian, 1 American (Podyab),1 Senegalese, 2 Ethiopians, Zimbabwe is in the house, 2 Kenyans, true blue UN gatherings... great conversation, good food, and drinking. I was of course the last one to leave the party, basic rules of accounting, First In, Last Out!

Sunday, June 13 2009
Woke up at 11:00 am, cleaned a bit, did some work I took home, chatted, and posted on my blog. Door bell rang, the chauffeur of compatriot #2 is here to pick me up, Compadre # 2 invited me to dinner, but I remember well, I didn't RSVP! Cannot attend sorry! She called trying to convince MOI, to no avail, she promised to send my portions, 1 hour or so later, the chauffeur delivered my portions. I ate pasta for dinner and decided to save the food of compadre # 2 for the rest of the week!


The People:
The people are very quiet, polite and peaceful, definitely, not my preconceived idea of Africans and Africa. I somehow thought that they would be Haitian like (whatever that means) since we were raised to believe that we are the most Afrocentric people in the world.


The streets are dusty, albeit not paved but surprisingly clean! I have not seen any garbage in the streets, no littering! It is not loud, except for "dola dola" drivers blowing/honking their horns! Btw, the "dola dola" is the equivalent of the Haitian "Tap Tap" (public transportation).

Traffic is a bit crazy; so far I've only seen one(1) traffic light at the corner of my street. Just like European town, there is a circle a round about as it is called, on all major arteries, very confusing for those who are not familiar with the area, I yet to figure out who have the right to go around the circle.
The locals are street vendors/restaurant owners/office workers ect... everybody knows how to read/write since it is mandatory that all children received an education at least to level 7, equivalent of Junior High School in the US. Those stats are never talked about on CNN/Fox. From the shoe shiners to the street vendors, they all know how to read and write in Swahili, most do not speak English, only high schoolers and university graduates speak English fluently.
Did I say that they are very polite people? they are all always sorry more so than Americans, you know us Haitians are not apologetic, but Tanzanians always greet you and are ready to help.

They say the Kenyans are the ones bringing crimes to the country; Tanzanians are mostly very humble and very respectful to the point of being humoristic.

Perfect example: I am riding in the back of a taxi and asked a question, the driver actually stopped/pulled over, turned around and talked to me, I almost fainted, I told him" You can drive and talk to me", he stopped again, and turned to reply !!!!
The fact that all the store owners/tanzanites and jewelry dealers are Indians kind of remind me of the Haitian Mulattoes/Syrians, and btw, the Tanzanians do not mind working for the Indians and don't see it as a problem!


The Masai are the predominant tribe of the country; they are very rich, because they possess the Tanzanites. They are legendary warriors, and are usually dressed in their traditional clothes at all times. They are the tallest and slimmest of all Tanzanians, and still carry their weapons. However, they are very modern, under their tribal costumes, they carry cell phones, PDA's, Blackberries ect... btw, Tanzania must be the cell phone capital of the world. I'm still looking for a Tanzanian who doesn't use a cellphone.

Now, dear friends/colleagues/family you are up to date in my adventures in Tanzania,'till tomorrow, Happy Reading, pictures will soon follow.