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...

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