I am finally in Africa!!!

Wow. This journey is off to a start that can be described only as hilarious. I would suggest Tunisair if you want a free tour of North Africa due to airplane disorganizaton. But really, it has been one of the most full and entertaining weeks of my life. Actually each confusing day has been a jewel. I apologize for the longness of this first blogpost, but I have a lot to cover.

It began on Dec 26th. My mom drove me to the airport in Seattle, and we said goodbye, me full of excitement, her full of good wishes. I went to check into my plane.The people at the counter informed me that there was a storm in Philadelphia, where my flights connected, so the plane was unable to leave that day. Naïvely thinking this would be the only lemons to lemon-aid situation I would have for the journey, I was determined to enjoy my freshly acquired last day in Seattle. I got a tattoo.  “this too will change” on my ankle. In the confusingly vague number of days since I got it, I have already looked at it many times for comfort. Then I went to the Picasso exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. They had an incredible show of African art as well there. It was one of the most inspiring art shows I have ever been to.

The next morning, I went back to the airport. My plane to Seattle went on time, but the connecting flight in Philadelphia, to Rome, was delayed. By the time I arrived in Rome, it was too late to connect from there to my next flight to Tunis, Tunisia. They changed my ticket, and said to come back tomorrow. I ended up with a wonderful whole day in Rome, saw the incredible city, explored all day and night, drew pictures of the fountains, and made some new friends. The next morning, confident in the itinerary that Tunisair had offered me, I went back to the airport. I stood in line for an hour, like everyone else, and then, as I was about to board my plane, the people at the counter said- “Oh, the flight from Tunis to Bamako, Mali has been canceled. You could stay in Rome, or you will have to sleep in Tunis and leave there tomorrow night.” Well I had already payed the 16 Euro to get to the airport, and though I love Rome, I couldn’t pass the opportunity to see Tunisia, so I boarded the plane, without a clue about the country I would land it.

I met a really nice man named Mohammed on the airplane, who told me I could stay at his families house. I happily accepted tho offer, after looking around me at the wealthy European tourists on the plane, and suddenly thinking about how expensive a hotel might be. On arrival, we drove to his family home, where I met the sweetest people on earth, who force fed me Goat, Fish, Eggs, Milk, and Octopus, though I am a vegan and haven’t eaten red meat for 19 years. I didn’t know what to do when an extremely cute old Muslim lady was literally holding the piece of goat to my mouth and I couldn’t explain to her that I didn’t eat meat- that it wasn’t her.

I really love Tunis, the people here are incredibly inviting and kind, and everything is beautiful. This afternoon, I said goodbye to the wonderful family that took me under their wing and headed back to the Airport, two hours early. The people at the counter looked at my ticket and said- “No, that flight is gone.” I looked at my ticket and said- It says 4:00. It is 2:00 right now. They said “yes madam you just have to wait.” I stood in line for another hour, laughing and looking at my new “this too will change” tattoo, and then was booked onto another flight, to Casablanca. They are telling me that I will get on a connecting flight to Bamako, My final destination, but I have learned better then to expect anything. I am not sure I even want things to go smoothly. So far my life has been best when things go wrong. I will add pictures when I figure out how too!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “I am finally in Africa!!!

  1. Pardon my French but… fucking aye, yeah, you are there finally! I am so excited for you and cannot wait to hear about it all as it unfolds. I know Timbuktu is coming up soon for you so I will be at the edge of my seat/computer here in Arkansas waiting to hear all about it – here til Jan 22, then back to Marin. And, of course, happy new year to you. I do not have my credit card in front of me right now but will do the paypal sponsor-an-artist thing very soon indeed! Love you, Maria! Be well, have a frigging blast as you settle in. PS – Can you imagine how lost your bike probably would have been if you had checked one as baggage? Oh, my goodness!

  2. Suzanne Devereux

    You’ve started on another art-and-travel adventure! Kudos to you, Maria. I love your open spirit and willingness to go with the flow. Looking forward to photos and more news.
    xo Suzanne

  3. Brett Poirier

    Hey – I wrote you last night when I got your happy note that you had made it finally…but I had an f-word in my message (I was so excited for you) and when I went to send it, a message popped up saying something like “modifying before posting”. Guess I can’t be excitedly profane on these blogs.

    If you can there, please add my friends Doug and Trish at “thunder@myyellowstone.net” to your blog email list, as I know they will like to hear about it as well as perhaps sponsoring an African artist – as I will. Bon voyage (as you get into the French there!) Happy New Year too! Lino

  4. Urban Justice

    Dear friend,
    I believe in synchroncity and I stumbled upon your site randomly-or did I? Look, my friend will be arriving in Mail on the 4th for the world music festival and will cont his travels to the unknown. He lives in Oakland and is a journalist who will be blogging, recording and documenting as you are. He has worked for NPR and is a writer for many non-profits in the bay area. I thought, if destiny permits, you two should meet up. I feel like it’s meant to happen. If you would like his info, let me know and I can try to make it happen for you two. Best of travels-remember, you must swim through the moat before you reach the castle.

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