Sorry for the brief interlude. Where the hell have I been? Sit tight and you'll find out!
Last time I blogged I was on my way out of Cuba so to all you worry worts: No, I was not held in some Cuban jail cell or anything else sordid like that. I spent my last day in Havana soaking up the city and buying souvenirs. I had an early morning flight the next day so called it a night after checking out the evening showing of 'Benny', a brilliant movie based on the life of Cuban superstar Benny More. At ten cents a ticket I couldn't resist. There was, of course, a huge line to get in but the theatre was colossal. Spent the night sharing a room with one of the Spanish guys as we'd all gotten kicked out of our casa that morning. I swear it wasn't my fault;)
Arrived in Panama quite early in the day and caught a cab into the city with two Indian guys, one of whom spent the whole ride going on about how he was starting a company in the city. My hostel was pretty easy to find and incredibly cheap. There were only 3 other travelers around but the receptionist was really friendly and helpful. I dropped of my wash at the downstairs laundry and headed back to explore but soon headed back because all I could see for miles was big glassy malls and lots of casinos. I did get stuck for a ridiculous amount of time staring at all the food on the shelves in a nearby giant supermarket. After the dearth of Cuban cuisine and vegetable I made up my mind to make the biggest salad plate the world had ever seen. I was dying for phytonutrients of some sort or other.
I ended up spending a considerable amount of the day in the Internet shop which was ten times cheaper than anywhere I'd been in Cuba. It was lovely to just surf the web and catch up with the world while at the same time frantically renaming and uploading photos to my blog on 3 other computers. Hey, I'm a multi-tasker! Sooooo, the big surprise was that I was leaving Panama the next day to fly to San Francisco, i.e. home. I wanted to surprise everyone and also wanted to avoid a long drawn out welcome back party that I knew I wasn't ready for. I was really nervous about U.S. Immigration, especially after having just been to Cuba but the guy fixated on the fact that I was from Kingston. Just like in Cuba - 'are you sure this isn't Kingston, Jamaica?' Geez, look at the passport, dude.
My first week was a roller coaster trying to track down friends to catch up with them. Please don't ask me why (who knows how my brain works) but I felt compelled to track each one down individually and either call them or see them in person. I'm sure it would have been simpler to just email everyone and tell them i was back but for some reason it just never occurred to me. What am I so weird. I decided not to blog for the first week to give me a chance to catch up with a good number of people but one week quickly turned into two and then six. It was amazing to see everyone again but a bit weird. Everyone was treating me like they hadn't seen me for 18 months but for me I felt like I'd just left. Within my first week I'd seen two concerts: Scissor Sisters where I hand shook violently while handing the bartender a 20 dollar bill for $6.50 beer (I didn't know how to explain to her that I was used to paying only 50 cents) and Dark Star Orchestra where I spent most of the night babysitting Big Daddy (ahh, things never change).
Everyone was absolutely excellent to me. Number one on that list was my brother, Edward, who put me up in his house for the entire 6 weeks and bought more delicious meals than I can count. He was selling his house so it had been staged just before I arrived meaning pillow, pillows and more pillows. Everyday I had to make my bed with the 'staged cover' and reposition 10 'stage' pillows in a set pattern before doing anything in case someone showed up unexpectedly to see the house. Not a lot of fun but did I mention that the lodgings were free! I finally got to meet Super Andrea, my brother's new girlfriend and got to spend a whole weekend hanging with the greatest niece in the world!
My brother didn't have a tv so I quickly commandeered both his and Andrea's Netflix subscriptions and got hooked on 24 and Smallville before turning into a full fledged YouTube junkie. It was perfect Indian summer in San Francisco and used my October 2006 MUNI pass to the hilt checking out my old stomping grounds and seeing all the changes. One of the best changes in SF, for me at least, has been the downturn in the real estate market. Compared to before I left there are probably 3 times as many places up for sale and more added everyday. the money I've used for my trip was initially saved for me to buy a house/condo but the market was crazy intense at the time and I decided to head out on the open road instead. The market's not dead, just more relaxed and on the flip side, my brother was able to sell his house for what he wanted.
Halloween in San Francisco! One of the reasons I booked my trip for the October/November window. Winks was in town and everyone rallied, all be it in the the last hour, to head on out to the Castro area in costumes no less. Frodo hooked us up with a little house party in the neighborhood and we hung out there all night on the steps drinking and laughing with the other people passing by. i was having a great goofy time until this stupid white girl passed by and laughing asked if i was dressed as a slave. I'm a Cuban Santeria woman, bitch! To make matters worse, her friends, shocked by the comment, I presume forced her to hang with us all the while explaining how they had black friends. Groan. Double groan. I tried not to act pissed but I was pissed, super pissed.What else to tell ya. I dropped by work each week to go out for lunch with my old co-workers and even stopped by the office where I actually solved a Java problem. Oh ya, the old girl's still got it! My last weekend was spent stressing about leaving and helping my brother put his house into boxes. Lisa and Leyla threw me a lovely chill dinner party that I was actually somewhat dreading as I was worried all the attention would be on me but I very much enjoyed it. With only two days to go I was pretty stressed. I had spent much too much time in SF working on business school essays and they were driving me crazy. What's important to you and why? Good god. I had Ruth look them over and after she chewed me out on the phone about how boring they were I think I finally got it. So its back to Colombia for me. No, this wasn't the end, just a mild reprieve, the journey continues!