Friday, January 30, 2009

i believe.
that's all.
you all.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Paper Planes with Yuri Shimoya

"Each person’s reality is their own mind’s creation. Nothing is real, but everything is real. If my journal inspires someone to “become themselves,” that is so encouraging for me to [continue to] share my journals with others. "

Yuri Shimoya
from "Paper Planes with Yuri Shimoyo"
by John H. Lee
Theme Magazine

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The PCF Guide to Travel

Montego Bay, Jamaica 12/5/05

The night before our father had asked us if we wanted to go to Jamaica. Upon arrival we were greeted by two gentleman otherwise known as Wizard Jombi and Mr. B. Little did we know by getting into the car we would be descending into the pit of hell for the next few days of our journey.

This is what we learned from our trip. Hopefully it will help you. It certainly helped us to further define how we want to plan our travels in the future. The PCF has been many places, but we are always learning something new.
We bring you the first in a continuing series...

The PCF Guide to Travel



January fifth, 2009 was a sunny day. The Montego Bay Airport MBJ smelled of water and salt...reminded me of Djibouti and a hotel swimming pool. When we got to customs the agent asked us where we were staying...
I honestly
didn't have a clue. Didn't know her/his last name, address, nor did I know anything else about our host... except that this person was a friend of a friend of... That didn't get us through.
So she, the custom's agent, made us stand aside until we had retrieved some legitimate information.

She wasn't very nice by the way.

OK, so no matter how appealing your trip may sound, or which friend or family member is suppose to be taking care of what, YOU NEED TO KNOW WHO YOU'RE STAYING WITH, THEIR ADDRESS, AND PHONE NUMBER!
For 1, you have to know specific information when you go through CUSTOMS. They're not going to let any old body into their country for any old reason without knowing the specifics.
2nd, YOU need to know some specifics about your hosts so that you'll know whether that is the right situation for you or not. In our case, had I known that we would be spending the majority of our time with some *special individuals* then I would have booked a room, Couch Surfed, or reconsidered going to Jamaica. I can't tell you how important this is...

Please use my hindsight for your foresight.

After leaving CUSTOMS we headed for the transportation exit where we would eventually meet our hosts. The Airport Transportation pickup site was more akin to a market place or bus stop.

Vendors selling Jamaica's signature Chicken Tofu Shrimp Patties
1990 Toyota cars whizzed ABOUT
Black faces peering out from back seat windows.

About 30 minutes later our ride had finally found us. In the passenger seat was Wizard
Jambi, the friend of the friend of... Deemed "legally" blind he used a staff, affectionately named Brother Bird, to guide his step and ego. His Assistant/Taxi Driver Friend, Mr. B, drove him everywhere. Mr. B knew everybody and everybody knew him... even if they didn't really KNOW him. I'd say he was a couple of notches up from the town drunk except that his drug of choice was WEED. Lol. Boy, do I mean weed! Weed everywhere! Weed in the car. Weed on the beach and weed in the house!Lol.
And despite all of the hard work MTV and BET have done to portray otherwise, Gonja is still illegal in Jamaica. Yeah.

So we said our hellos. All seemed okay, until...
Bigs came over to embrace me in a familiar sort of way. (Eeewwww)

If you've ever hugged someone and their hand awkwardly finds your lower back (Not the butt folks! The lower back!) it is definitely a fully awkward moment and it happens so fast, it's to correct.It was definitely not my style, to say the least. Thinking back I would have approached that situation differently.

Number 1.
Now this is important.You must Establish Yourself up Front! Introduce yourself, establish your space,and let them know who YOU are. Using your voice, your body, and disposition you can make people feel and think things about you that may or may not be inherent in your person. This IS about wielding respect, not what some people may call being Bougie or uppity. This is actually really important in countries that have different norms about women or groups of people in general. Whether or not this is true for your next destination, you are who you are wherever you go and wherever you are! Let 'em know you are someone to be RESPECTED!

Number 2. If this situation would have been unacceptable to you don't be afraid to split some verbal wigs. Such as: "' You don't know me like that MMAAANNN! Get off me! I said, get off me Mother Trucker! Bbboooyyyy!" Lol

What could've happened...
Before he scurries to hug me, I extend a hand
Kalimah: Hey, how you doin? (We shake hands)
Mr. B: Good, how are you m'dear?! (Breath smells like weed)
Kalimah: Good. Good.Glad to be here...
After getting into the car
Kalimah: I am a 21 year old educated, independent woman and you can't touch this ish! I like movies, science stuff...blah blah, gubli, gabli
Now, Who are you?

So instead of that awkward moment FOR ME! I seal the deal and let him know who's boss. The thing is I would have rather given him a hug, but just because you mean it in a friendly way doesn't mean that they aren't thinking about something else
mmhmm. So, assess the situation based on what you know about whomever you'll be staying with. Just because you shake hands in the beginning doesn't mean that you can't be friendlier later. It will keep you from quite a few other problems...

Once we left the "Bus Stop" with Wizard Jambi and Mr. B I didn't know where the hell we were going.
Next thing I know we're at a Chicken Shack picking up rice and beans with chicken on top( Granted I don't eat meat)

3. Always Be Aware! Just because you get off of the airplane, doesn't mean you go into relax vacation mode, especially if you don't know your hosts well. Make conversation. Schmooze a little bit. Let them know you are present and that you have your own agenda! If your agendas meet then wonderful, but if not, so be it. It's your experience. Don't let ANYONE DEFINE IT FOR YOU! This has a lot to do with life choices as well, because we can choose to let others designate what we will do and have. " No thank you! I don't care if you got chicken, when I told you I didn't eat meat. This is my life!" If you have to, be adamant about your point of view.Keep in mind You should always remain respectful, but this also encompasses SELF RESPECT and MUTUAL RESPECT.Your hosts should respect your wishes and beliefs while you respect theirs.

Once we got our food we made our way to the beach.
That's when the weirdness really began...

When we got to Jamaica I wasn't prepared for the change of climate. I ended up shedding a coat and sweater outside the airport leaving me in a fitting lime green shirt that I would never wear by itself, that did not fit my jeans, and that generally left me feeling uncomfortable and too open in a foreign environment. As you travel about you want to be looking right, my friends. You need to be looking fresh as ever! In foreign, ever fluctuating and new environments your physical stance, your clothing, the way you walk and hold your head, how you approach and portray yourself to others, says everything about who you are wherever you go. It also communicates to people how they are to approach, the kind of interactions you expect with everyone you encounter. It lets people know right off the bat who you are, what you expect, and the proper way to engage you. This proves true no matter where you go.

Waiting outside of the airport in
Montego Bay I may have been at my best, but because I didn't feel as powerful and on it in my overall portrayal, I didn't exude it and enact it with supreme confidence. Traveling you want to continually remind yourself and others when necessary who you are and what your objectives are. Your clothing, stance, and presence is one way to keep doing that. You may know nothing about where you are going or what exactly will happen on your trip, but if you know who you are and continually define and remember that to yourself and to others, you will create your own experience. And you'll continually find yourself in situations that are pleasing to you.

I also felt too open. And this is one of the primary tenets of self-defined travel.
Define your boundaries. The lines, the fit, and the cut of your clothes define your physical boundaries, which is one of the most important things whenever and wherever you are travel. As a mobile agent literally carrying your body, belongings, ideas, plans, and dreams, the illusion and reality of yourself to near and far places around the world, you make up your own home. You make up the physical boundaries and structure of your traveling house, yourself. And you protect your home. By traveling you are naturally welcoming the experience of a place, but you also must continually define, refine, and create the parameters of your experience and your traveling house.

By dressing and exuding in the way that makes you feel like you are it, by standing up straight, walking like you know where you are going, and speaking in a voice like you know exactly what you are saying, by looking everyone in the eye no matter how powerful, older, or authoritative they appear, you establish a level of respect and exchange on your terms... you set your standard at the very beginning. We all create our realities. It is your journey and you have the right. Let others know who you are and how they should deal and interact with you and it can only go uphill from there.

Often those first moments, when you get off the plane, as you leave the airport, set the standards for the rest of the trip. These are all important. Do not neglect them. And listen. Define yourself and your intentions to anyone you are dealing with at the beginning- who you are and what you want. Be vocal, adamant. . Let everyone know who you are and what you want and expect upfront. And if something doesn't feel quite right act right then. Don't wait for something else to happen or otherwise another confirmation of what you already know. Make a decision. Take control. Don't let anyone take control of you or your trip, whether it seems like they are being nice or not. You always know where you are going.

What we could have done:

We could have made a decision after the first few signals, that we needed to change course and find somewhere else to stay, but we didn't. Over the course of an hour or so there were some severely inappropriate sexual remarks made and some both undercover and insidious ( you really have to watch out for these) disrespectful statements and disregard for who we were as both individuals and as young women. And at anytime during this first part of the trip we could have taken charge and made some executive decisions. You never have to stay in any situation, no matter what you or anybody else thinks. You are never stuck! For several reasons, we failed to act and take hold of our experience. Or just plain cuss somebody out.

Define yourself upfront and continually and don't be afraid to get mean or just plain bold. Don't cut any corners either. Define and create who you are and what you want! What I want to say is.. being polite, quiet, nice, young, respectful ( this one can really trick you up and be a load of crap) or any word that translates to you not getting what you want, feeling unsafe, uncomfortable, or being in danger is not worth a single thing. And you are worth everything. As my mom said, "Don't accept any wooden nickels."

Coming Next:

Weed, vodka, and gecko poop,

"recognizing what you see when you see it and

knowing what you know when you know it",

Money and foreign exchange rates,

..and the PCF slaves in a small dark kitchen ...

The adventures... of the PCF CONTINUES..

©2009 Intisar Abioto, Kalimah Abioto

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What She Wrote: Jamaica Hello. Jamaica Farewell.

There is lots here to say here. Lots. I won't tire myself out though.

We just arrived back to Memphis International Airport (MEM) from Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ). Found out we were coming Sunday, flew out Monday morning, and back Wednesday evening. I'd never been to Jamaica before. And didn't quite know what to expect.We learned so much on this trip. We learned ssoo very much. So very very much.

Whew! Lordy, Ms. Clordy!

You know, it can seem real fabulous what we're doing sometimes. There's definitely a certain kind of daredevilry about it. There is def some saying who you are to the world real loud and shining OUT. About all of us really and who we are.

But I'll say its not always fabulous in the way of .. piles of sugat.. It is often a real challenge and a real test. No joke. Life test. Sometimes. Goodness sometimes..saying you're going to a place is only a tenth and the being there and the getting back out.. is like.. superman stuff. This trip was one of those lesson learners. We learn things wherever we go. We pick up knowledge, feeling, experience, thoughts, and new revelations. Finding out LITERALLY how to move in this world as humans, as the people we are and are becoming. And this never ends. And it accumulates every where you go, every flight, every trip, every journey.
And I still miss flights sometimes. Missed a flight to NY for the Apliq Party ( hOLLA at my girl Isa for details and Steve Pristin for the intel) last friday. You Keep learning.. you keep getting there.

Our experience in Jamaica over the course of a mere two days was a real test. The place was beautiful and the people we saw extraordinary naturally. Many of the circumstances of the trip were a true test though. No joke y'all.
Not test of the body. We were not climbing mountains. But it tested our ability to make understood who we are as individuals. test of the person, of belief, of who we were. Of one's choice to be who you and where you wanna be and what you wanna do. And not taking no **** off nobody. Opening your mouth. Moving your feet. Moving Moving Chooooosiiinnnnnnnn!

This was one of the craziest experiences I've ever had.
However I won't call it circumstances, because I believe we all have control.
And travel is often about getting specific about what you want. It is about getting specific in the details about what you want out of your life (travel) and that is a beautiful thing. Getting stomp down specific and yes sometimes ornery.
I was telling Kalimah that travel is like speed-dating for life.
You're gonna learn real quick what you like, cause you're gonna be uncomfortable when you don't like something to do something about it, act real quick. The parameters of travel mimic the parameters of life.
I have to get on that plane. I HAVE to get on that plane. I have to go here. NO sir, I don't want to do this. I WANT and am going to do this. I gotta eat. I gotta take good care of myself. I have to rest my head where I feel comfortable and safe. I gotta tell that joker over there I don't want do that and I don't agree with you. And no I am not complicit in that. I gotta say WHO I AM. And if you don't know, then you will know very soon. I gotta leave when I want to and go where I know feels right. You must have the gumption and the power and sometimes the in your face ferocity to create in your own experience. To not be created for. These are all important things in travel when you are in a completely new situation or with people who may or may not know you. So many things. Soooo many things.

This last trip was not about vacationing. It was about getting deeper and stauncher and more positive and affirmative adamant about who we are. It was about saying what we are doing, and what we are wanting wherever we are going.
As people,
as young people, as females, as women, as black people, as people of color, as people In this expanse of life,
as whoever and everything we are, that is important!
That is important. Silence don't cut it. And being a nice girl don't cut it either. We must say who we are. Let the world know, fore folks try to tellya. They gon' get this here.! They gon' see this here. They might not understand this here. But it don't matter. Cause we gon' say this here.

Here are some thoughts we wrote down as soon as we realized we were getting on the plane home. We started talking you see, and. They articulate some of what we learned during our time learned in Jamaica and elsewhere. We might bring these back later in more detail, but here they are now pretty unedited. I really believe much of what is learned in travel can be applied anywhere.

Here goes.

1. Know where you are going. Get specific.
Know who you are going to stay with. The ( positive) company you keep.
Know exactly where and under what circumstances you will be sleeping and laying your head. It is important that you know and you feel comfortable. You have ulitmate control over your residence and your transportation, even if you are visiting with someone or someone is helping you. Have the option to jump up out whenever and wherever when you need to. Be proactive.

2. Set your own objectives. What is your objective on this your journey? What is your mission. Stay on it. Don't assume others, whoever they are have your objective in mind, whether they are strangers, friends, or family. Be specific with yourself.

3. Eat and do things you want to. Don't feel pressured to eat or do things that you don't want. If you don't want to do it, its not that serious. It is your experience. In that time do what you want.

Anyone who really wants you to do something big or small that you don't, you don't need to be around them anyway. And forget being terribly polite. Don't suck it in. Mistakes and miscommunications occur, but its your experience. We can always correct with the proper words and intention. Sometimes those small things matter.
Don't defer.

4. Think about what you want to buy, before you set out to buy it.
Have in mind how much you would like to spend, not how much others might like you to. Don't be pressured or bullied.

Know the currency and conversion.- It helps to have in mind how much key amounts in American dollars are in that currency. Like how much is 1,2,3,5,10, 20 US dollars? So when you have to make quick calculations and decisions you will be prepared. And you will spend only what you intend.

This is really important during transactions with individuals and bargaining. In the heat of the moment when someone is quoting you a thousand prices all changign at once prices and you feel pressure to buy something allows you to break the fog of confusion and pressure.

For many of us who have not grown up bargaining these kind of transactions can be hella stressful. I naturally feel uncomfortable if I feel like somebody is waiting on my to buy something or watching me. It's just not what I'm accustomed to. So learn the language of bargaining and that you can say no. Or walk away.

-Don't bother with being overly polite. Be quick.

5. Often enough it helps to be incomprehensible! Say something ridiculous and move. Not everyone has to understand what you are doing or saying. This helps when you are just trying to get out of a situation, end something, or someone wants to engage you and you don't want to be engaged. Say something quick, crazy, or incomprehensible. Something that cannot be understood and say it like you mean it. And when you need to don't be afraid to get diva-ish. Don't be afraid to be full out weird. Folks don't mess with crazy folks. If they can't understand you, they have to find a response and and you can get where you need to be.

6. Change. Be able to change situations when you want. Don't feel locked down in place with anyone or anywhere.

7. Have your own...
Have your own options, people you can trust, food, room, and most important ideas. Ideas make the matter. Ideas make the travel. Ideas make life.

8. Don't feel pressured to pretend you have to agree with everyone or anyone you meet whoever they are. To get Memphis on you, I shoLL don't!. You don't have to agree with anything someone's saying or doing. And you don't have to be polite and not say anything either, especially especially when it is in regards to you. Let them jokers know! But the better option is to just get outta there. Bring yourself to a calm and comfortable place/space. This is your experience, right? Yes. You choose. And often that means taking to yourself to a better place, as far as the eye can see. Keep moving, speaking, being you. And
Don't compromise yourself.

9. Say No
Don't be afraid to say no.
It establishes your boundaries.

10. Establish yourself up front.
-who you are
what you do and will not do, are not accustomed to doing.

Often enough during travel we are opening ourselves up to an experience, a culture, new ways of seeing and acting. We feel we are the ones coming to this location to experience and take in, be taught something.
This ain't always the case. You better remember who you are and take that with you everywhere honey.

Whether that is saying something about yourself, LOOKING INDIVIDUALS IN THE EYES, speaking up, your bodily stance. Say, exude who YOU are. That lets a joker no who you are right up front. Ain't no mistakin.

11. Don't be nice at your own expense.
There is a difference between being amiable or nice and losing something about yourself that is powerful and aggressive. That creates your experience come hope or high water.

12. Create in your own experience.
Do what you want
Not what others want
Because they are doing what they want hopefully.

13. Age don't mean a thing. Every old person or seeming elder is not wise. Know who you are and what your cherished ones have taught you. That kind of knowledge stays with you and will often enough if you listen, carry you through.

13. Continue to be positive / But not passive. Positivity is active. It is forthright. Take the best from the experience, because it is yours.
And when it seems like you fail learn the lesson and be done with it.
Don't stay there nagging yourself. There's so much more to be done! Learn the lesson and be done. Keep moving forward.

14. Anger
If your anger can effect the situation in a positive way, USE IT!
Don't be afraid to use your anger!

15. Always question.
Never stop asking questions. Even if they or you don't understand. Even if sometimes tells or intimates that asking a question is not good or that they don't know. Find out who does. Someone always does.

16. Don't make small situations or components of your trip big.

Think comprehensively. Act Quickly. Feel like you can stop the situation if it is too moving too fast or you feel something inside is wrong. Often in these scenarios you will start to feel things moving too fast. Say I'm going to take a break. No, I don't want to do this.

In Jamaica a vendor at a crafts fair was trying to sell me some bracelets. I kept saying I didn't want them, but he kept changing the price and being there. Have! the power and feeling to say no, and cut off the situation. Often enough it is things that appear small that get us off the track of our journey. I ended up taking out of my wallet 200 Jamaican dollars, about a little less than 2.50USD to pay for three bracelets I cared nothing for just to get out of the situation. But nothing is a deal if you don't want it, no matter how much the price changes. I can feel the anger at this rising up even now. And as soon as I gave him the money I wanted it back and it was already gone in his pocket. You can always stop a situation, say no, and go off by yourself. You deserve space! And you don't have to talk to, be around, or listen to anyone you don't want to. This includes people who may be trying to sell you things. My bag was I'm not trying to be rude, but then you have to look at the objectives. Some people aren't talking to you to be nice or kind. They simply have their own objective. They have their own objective which is to sell. Their objective is not just to up and be talking to you straight out the blue. I mean this dude straight up followed us through the crafts market.

The goal is your destination-objective not the pit stop or the side attraction.
You can STOP a flow of action whether it is a financial transaction or going some place doing something you don't want to do.
You'll always know when that sliding off your own track is happening, because you'll feel it. Acknowledge it.

17. Time.
Always be aware of the time- whatever form. Be on time for your plane. For international at least two hours before, and for some places more. That means preparing to leave several hours before too.
Spend your time how you want. Keep up with your own time.
Plan! if you want to and can.

18. Money
Never spend your last- any and all forms of anything.
Think about how you want to spend before you leave home or hotel.
Think and set aside how much you want to spend. Don't be pressured into spending something for someone else's gains. Don't be pressured into spending to be polite or cordial. That is the worst. I'm still getting over this one in those bargaining transactions.

19.Always bring food- good food.
Snacks, maybe even a meal.

20. Be adamant about your experience.
Money, clothes, food. These are all real things.
And So is your experience.
Insist on having the best experience! It's all you're there for.
Don't put up with anything else. Be proactive and adamant
about YOUR experience. When you leave it will be what you have. It will be what you! have.

21. Don't stop. Keep moving forward. Whether that means sitting down to take a break, go pee, eat something, say I wanna go here and not there, get in the car, go down the street by yourself. Sit down and not talk to anyone. Talk to everyone. Look at the sky. Take a picture. Not take a picture or film when someone is asking you to. Don't stop. Keep moving forward. Towards your destination, your goal, your greater objective, your experience. You always know. And whatever you are doing if you are in line with that then you are inline with yourself, and your purpose for being there, whether you traveling or wherever you are on this earth.

Sometimes things challenge us and afterwards we know more of what we want and how we want to do things.

Getting closer to what we want is how we always wanna roll.

I(ntisar) the Abioto

and the PCf!