Sunday, December 18, 2011

COLOMBIA, South America: Quibdo, Choco Day 5

We Love Choco! There's a very real and peaceful spirit here. We decide to go for a walk after breakfast...

The Afro-American Bank is new. It was started because Black people were being discriminated against by the major banks. The same story: they wouldn't finance loans, help business or treat the people with dignity and respect. It touches me that this is the reasons why Anthony Overton and Jessie Binga started Black banks in the 1920's

Helping hands of the bank
This woman had no idea how beautiful she
was to us. She thought we wanted to take
her picture to laugh at her.

Liliana and Kidist

We walk thru the town down to where 3 rivers meet. The sky is so beautiful here.

We see Liliana and she decides to go with us to the waterfront market. Passing the boats everyone says I should go for a ride but they are a bit too small for my comfort--so I decline.

I'd rather walk around the market and people watch.

The market is wonderful! Great sights, smells and tastes. There are so many new and exciting fruits... and they love to juice everything. This would be a great place to do a all juice diet. You'd never run out of new flavors and delicious old ones.

Freshly caught catfish.
Since I don't eat meat I can't speak to that, but the fish is definitely FRESH. 

Drying cocoa beans.
Smells great, tastes bitter.
Susy in what I called her
"model on location" poise.
It feels so comfortable here, more like family than stranger. Even though I didn't speak the language I felt very connected.  Cousins I'd never met or knew existed but having parents who were siblings, we both understood what the other had been thru and there is laughter at the instant recognition of self. 

Now I REALLY want to learn Spanish. Before it was more lip service, but now I need to talk to my long lost cousins cause we have so much to enjoy about the other.

The indigenous people have been
abandoned, as they have everywhere.

We have to leave for the hotel and pack. There's a call to tell us that the Governor wants to stop by and meet us before we go. Wow, the Governor! Unfortunately he didn't get there before we left. We couldn't wait because we'd already spent an extra day there and I had to do a tv appearance for the Embassy in Bogata. Oh well, next time--I'm just honored he wanted to meet.

At the airport we have all kinds of scheduling problems but we get it sorted out and finally get thru security. Suddenly large soldiers with BIG guns come into the waiting area and ask for "Barbara Allen!" Gulp. Is this the part where I get kidnapped. Maybe I just shouldn't say anything...but my kid is there and I can't let them take her.  Ok, ok, I confess, I'm Barbara Allen.  The soldiers turn to me and say, "The Governor is here to see you."  WTF!

How cool is that? Not as cool as it was going to get. We get up to go meet the Governor, expecting a pudgy, balding, middle aged man but instead there was Governor Malcolm Ali!

Malcolm Ali,
The Governor of Choco!
Holy cow! He was gorgeous, intelligent, passionate and only 29 years old.  He'd been elected 8 months earlier and the people were worried that he was too young, but he's made such a difference that nobody is concerned with his age anymore.

And what a name--MALCOLM ALI. His parents must have known he was going to be a great man...

The Girlz with the Governor;-)

Now we hate to leave Choco even more. The Gov apologizes for not being able to accompany us to Bogota for the closing of the festival but there are elections on Sunday (not for his seat) and he has to supervise.

The River

Good bye Choco! We'll be back and we'll bring more cousins with us.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

COLOMBIA, South America: Quibdo, Choco Day 4

We wake up and head straight to the airport to fly to the infamous 'Choco.' That's where the slaves ran away to. It's also where my fave group comes from. In fact the group's name is from the state (Choco) and town (Quibdo) = ChocQuib Town. Nice! 

Wait a minute! Are those propellers on that plane? Hmm, I'm not feeling this. AND the the plane is 'Aires?!' No offense to my Aires buddies out there, but you know how erratic you can be. Do I really want to put my life in an Aires propellor plane? 

WTH, lets do this! I remember at least one good prayer..."Oh St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong before the throne of God...."

                                                                                                                                                                       What? We're here, we landed? Piece of cake. 

Safely on the ground in Choco!
3 Generations of Black feminists
                                                                               Let's go.
We go to our hotel, where Jenny surprises her mother.  Three generations of Black female activist, all brilliant and beautiful!


           Now we eat. Yum, amazing food. Did I mention coconut rice? I should have, cause it's plentiful and DELICIOUS.  Then there is the refreshing coconut water with small bits of coconut. I love coconut--when I was pregnant I always craved coconut, mango, lobster and champagne. Hmm, I still crave coconut, mango, lobster and champagne...

Next, we are off to do a tv interview at a school and talk with some media students. I show them both films, Morning Due and Eric's Haircut. 
These students are very savvy. They find meaning and significance that was missed by others (including me ;-0)

Media Students
They talk about hair and cultural identity.  Personal identity versus public perception.  Emotional vs physical trauma.  Music as character.

Muntu Bantu
Black Cultural Center in Choco
Have I mentioned that Choco is an all Black state. I kept thinking I was back in Africa. Now I understand why Susy felt so at home in Ouagadougo, Burkina Faso in West Africa--it looks and feels a lot alike. It's hot because we are, after all, in a jungle.

A different meaning of 'hand to mouth'

               The Muntu Bantu Black Cultural Center is down the street and we walk down there for another screening and discussion. The center is full of pictures and paintings of Black historical icons and events. Black heroes of North and South American freedom struggles. The middle passage and Malcolm X, lots of Malcolm X.
Malcolm under the door of no return, looking at the pyramids.

Afterwards we go to a restaurant on the river and have a wonderful meal that includes champagne.

Boats on the River

Susy, Our Hostess, BA & Jenny

We all retire happy and full to get ready for a second day in Choco!