Abidjan to Addis Ababa
March 6th, 2017
Ethiopian Airlines Flight # 0964
Today I’m flying the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the first time, Abidjan to Addis Abba. Is it just me or did my blog just get really exotic? Is it even PC to say “Exotic” when talking about African countries? I don’t care, I am tired of censoring myself, after all this blog was meant for complete honesty (check out the first entry to Colorado Springs). So excuse me in advance if I come across as “Not PC” but I’m on a wild adventure and I want to share my unedited self.
The Dreamliner is everything it claims to be – faster, more spacious, fuel efficient and quieter (that is when the five babies onboard aren’t screaming, even the babies seem to scream in a foreign language). Speaking of Dreamliner, I feel as if I have been in a dream this last week (someone pinch me) and I’ve also been dreaming about my fluorescent green teardrop tattoo on my face but I blame that on the malaria pills. Malaria pills because just a week ago my dance crew and I landed in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire after a 30hr journey, which included a pit stop at the Yotel in the Paris CDG Airport, which I highly recommend.
Can you remember that instant when you landed on another continent and suddenly everything was foreign? My first impression? Holy Shit it is Hot (the kind of heat that fogs up your retina)! The sights, the sounds, the light, the scent (think diesel cars and BO) and the lifestyle all seem to be of another world. But it also doesn’t take long to realize that lifestyle really doesn’t matter very much, that we are all a part of the human community regardless if you have a roof over your head or shoes on your feet, we all have the same needs – to love and to dance.
And dance we do. We are on a mission to dance – to dance hard, to teach, to learn, to share, to exchange our worlds and we have endless hash-tags to prove it – #dancediplomacy, #culturalexchange, #DMUSA, #KCoDMUSA but it you want a general overview check out our facebook page K+C facebook. I digress, back to our mission which could easily be translated as our mission to spread JOY, unbelievable amounts or JOY, and if you need a visual than you should check out this link Joy of Dance .
Okay back to the culture shock. After arriving at our hotel I take two Unisom sleep melts which carry me peacefully through the night, I wake up early the next day to a colorful world, everything is colorful except my beige breakfast plate full of carbs (we are told not to eat anything fresh and don’t dare drink the water from the tap). This reminds me of my first time touring as a wee-little-dancing-queen with the troupe David Rousseve Reality. It was in Paris when I got so sick from food (naturally I was eating everything at the buffet). I mean SICK, like coming out of every orifice. It was more than just driving the porcelain bus – I soiled everything, including all the bed sheets and myself. Logically I quickly kicked my roommate out of the room due to sheer embarrassment. As my roommate returned she found me completely exhausted on all fours washing the dirty sheets in the bathtub………and that was Paris.
Now we are in Africa and so far so good, I only had one false alarm this week and that was at the US Embassy in Abidjan during our security briefing but thankfully the sensation of quivering cheeks and sweating palms passed. My big concern now was – is the hot water in my coffee safe? Can I take my malaria pills with a shot of vodka?
Now where was I? Oh yeah, culture shock. For me the shock was most pronounced on our van ride to Bouake. We witnessed visuals that I thought only existed in National Geographic – like women walking with baskets full of bananas balanced on their head, men pissing in plain sight on street corners, barefoot children crossing six lanes of chaotic traffic, and cars motoring with live goats on their roof. I can’t help but feel like a prudish, privileged American living in a white air-conditioned bubble. When I ask my brain to dig a little deeper I am able to comprehend that privilege is a concept not a thing and it’s obvious that when these kids smile they are happy, that joy exists no matter what frame you put it in.
This past week has also felt like I’ve been playing a long game of charades, miming my way through simple life tasks including those annoying universal signs for “check please” or “drink”. But let me share a few other highlights: – A spirited and inspired collaborative performance Bouake – Emily nails it! – Another collaborative show in Abidjan – Jackie’s killer video – A live TV appearance on TV1 – Larry speaking french – A glorious day off at the beach in Grand Bassam – Just a picture
I hear it often “A trip of a lifetime” but it’s true, I can’t imagine another trip even coming close. It has been so joyful to dance with our human community…so joyful I could cry (for more mushy reading check out my entry on Denver). So what’s the take-away? That travel does indeed teach us tolerance and we all need a little more of it in our lives.
Stay tuned for upcoming stories from Ethiopia where I hear the streets are really for the people.