Guest post: Africa, Caribbean Adventure! by Jordan Ilareguy (travelingbuff)
In this week’s guest post… we join Jordan on his African and Caribbean adventure, where he encounters crazy drivers, cultural diversity and the simple joy in the roar of an air plane’s motor. An interesting insight into a daily life of a flight steward…
Africa, Caribbean Adventure!
I’m back! From what you may ask? Well, I’m about to tell you!
The adventure first started off in Casablanca, Morocco; we only stayed a night, which was okay, considering I’m not paying to go to any of these locations and it’s just enough time to get a taste of the area.
Driving down the streets of Casablanca was wild, not one person followed any traffic regulations, everyone was zipping in and out of lanes, no signalling, cutting everyone off, people running across the street last-minute, cars slamming their brakes, horns honking like you’d see in NYC, it was a “dog-eat-dog” world; you get to where you need to go by any means necessary, you probably won’t even get arrested doing it too! I had a good laugh when we drove past what was a driving school in the city. I mean, what’s the point? Nobody is going to follow the regulations anyways! Maybe it was more for defensive driving? How to avoid the other drivers and what to expect in such an unexpected place?
I had a great night wandering the markets and various bazaars; the streets were flooded with them, full of hand-crafted goods and imitation brands of designer products… The market went on forever, with winding streets continuing on and on, my co-worker and I got lost, we had no idea how to get back to the hotel. A random shop-owner grabbed our attention, showed us the way to his own shop where I bartered my way to some great prices for some outstanding and unique local goods that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Next stop was the Portuguese island of “Sal” (Salt), in the country of “Cape Verde”, Africa. This is quite an exotic location, pretty expensive too if you fly with commercial airlines, at least from Canada that is. Driving to our hotel from the airport, we noticed that land was quite rugged and desolate. Perfect for a “dune-buggy”! The landscape contained minimal greens and just appeared to be real run down and dry. It was evident that the country itself wasn’t well set off financially and primarily runs off any tourism that they can get. I’d have to say though, that once we arrived at our hotel, walking to the coast was absolutely gorgeous; but in reality, which beach isn’t gorgeous? The interesting thing about Cape Verde is that it’s inhabitants are a mix of African, Portuguese, Caribbean and Brazilian descent, so there was quite an interesting culture that we were surrounded by, as well as a unique selection of food in all the meals that we ate there. Rabbit rice to Conch stew to my all-time favourite… Unlimited draught beer! Okay, so maybe that’s not quite a meal, but it’s made of essential grains, isn’t it? Next time, I’m going to remember to bring sunscreen, I have never been so burned in my life! Reading some articles, I heard one of the best brands you can buy is “Hawaiian Tropics”, it may cost a bit more, but apparently it works. Don’t quote me on that though, I’m no sunblock expert here.
Next stop? The Dutch Southern Caribbean country of “St. Maarten”.
Ever seen those videos on YouTube where you see bystanders hanging around on a beach as massive jets are landing in such close proximity? So close, you could almost touch one of the wheels as it’s coming down for landing. You can most certainly see and wave to the Pilot, no doubt about it. Well, that’s the city of “Sint Maarten” in the country “Sint Maarten”. I was staying at a hotel right by that beach, which is called “Maho Beach”. A few co-workers and I decided it would be a once in a life time experience to hang off the fence that separates the runway to the beach as one of these jumbo jets take off. Written on several signs all across the fence are warnings “Danger: Stay away from fence, injury or death may prevail”, or something along those lines. Also, while a jet is idling, you should be a minimum of 180 ft away from it’s engines, once it switches from idle to full-power, you must maintain a minimum distance of 900 ft from the engine when behind the aircraft. My co-workers and I that were hanging onto the fence were definitely under 200 ft from the jet’s engines. We were holding on for our dear life; just the aircraft idling was enough power as it was; as soon as that pilot shot up the throttle to full-power, we were in for an ass-kicking. Sand was blasting into our face at fierce speeds; it felt like knives ripping our faces and skin apart. The heat of the engine was burning our skin and the force of the jet-blast wanted to rip us right off the fence and send us flying to only god knows where. We all survived, no injuries and left with an awesome story and memories to remember for the rest of our lives!
An interesting fact about the country of “Sint Maarten”, the island is divided in half, the Dutch own the North half and the French own the Southern half. I’m not entirely sure what the History behind that is all about, perhaps I’ll be back someday to find out!
Our last stop on the road was Memphis, Tennessee, which is pretty much the land of “Elvis”. Yes, he does live!
We didn’t have a whole lot of time here, so my co-workers and I went out for a famous “Pulled-Pork sandwich”, which apparently the city is known for; damn, was it ever delicious! Every bite you took made you salivate for another, until it’s all gone then you’re taste-buds are just craving for more; that’s where discipline kicks in and you have to convince yourself that your stomach doesn’t have room to fit any more!
To finish off the night, me and two co-workers decided to grab a few beers at some rooftop patio bar on famous Beale St. We were just overlooking the street, people-watching and just reminiscing over our awesome adventure that we had. About an hour later or so, it was time to call the night quits as we were leaving late next morning. My co-worker comes up to me the next morning and tells me some shocking news that he saw on his television. The bar that we were lounging around at had a shooting an hour after we left, six people in total were shot, although no one was killed and three with hospitalized in non-critical condition. I couldn’t believe it… Had we stayed an extra hour, we could have witnessed this event or been shot ourselves. Looks like I had a guardian angel watching over me and my co-workers.
I’m back home now, just taking it easy, getting caught up with my Kung-Fu classes and catching up with my Piano lessons. I’m awaiting a promotion to my next rank, which I’m due for, same for a medal. I wonder when they’ll show up? Hmm…
More adventure to come soon enough!
written by: Jordan Ilareguy
visit his blog at: travelingbuff.com