Posts filed under ‘Africa’

Gaddafi- flying the flag- Chris Ritchey

Who I Am - Chris Ritchey

Gaddafi , Dictator of Libya and his actions had a direct impact on the “making” of my son.

23 February 2011 Colonel Gaddafi ‘ordered Lockerbie bombing’
The justice minister claimed Muammar Gaddafi ordered the bombing that killed 270 in 1988
Mustafa Abdel-Jalil told Expressen he had proof the Libyan leader was behind the bombing of Pan AM flight 103, which killed 270 people in 1988.

I have written in the past 15 months as I journey in search of my son various “happenings in his life and ours”- I draw your attention to the following :

Chris’s wife of a little over a year ( Angela Lombardi ritchey) wrote to my daughter after Chris’s death about the penchant for Chris to sew patches, flags on his hats . As she spewed forth about how my daughter didn’t know her brother and I didn’t know my son– I smiled- as she expounded on this particular proclivity of Chris’s – you see I knew what she didn’t the beginning The Libyan situation as it now plays out draws me back to another time when Gaddafi caused pain and terror and patriotism .

Chris, from a very little boy, was very patriotic and very “American” – maybe it was the hours spent with Papa Teddy, his Nana and his grandfather who told him stories of World War Two – listening to his Dad and his USAF talk- seeing pictures of his Uncle in Vietnam.

Chris loved all things to do with flags and badges and the USA.

We held Christmas a couple of days early that year of 1988 as we were flying to England for Christmas and then onto Morocco for New Years.

I had seen a pseudo leather bomber jacket as I shopped with various decals etc. I thought Chris might like it.

I was surprised how much he loved it

Chris never took it off the whole day and I as I checked on him that night when he was asleep he was still wearing it.

And then as we came in from a last-minute trips to the store buying the things for the trip the news of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 and the destruction of Lockerbie.

It was a scary time those next couple of days however we were going to London first so we had time to change plans if the situation got worse . I did think however that Chris’s jacket was a little overtly American it may be a good idea for him to leave it at home.

He was having none of it and his father and uncle (both veterans and proud of it) supported him.

And anyway we were going to London first and he was a little boy

We were booked into a French Hotel, since I spoke a little French I did all the talking. The Americans in our party were told to shut up and look German ( the Arab population had an affinity for the Germans). Being an American that week was not a popular thing to be , as evidenced by the conversations at the surrounding dinner tables, being English was only slightly better. Luckily my two blonde children were thought to be German. I think the fact my husband had a sort of tweed Tyrol hat on most days and was carrying around the book he was reading that had to do with Germany in World War Two and had a swastika on the front endeared him to the staff. All I know was that he never paid for a beer the whole time he had that book.

We did not go out of the hotel unless escorted by our private guides. It was the most awful tense and stressful time as far as traveling I have ever been through. And I have been through some Vacations from Hell that could fill the pages of Horror Tales of Travel Abroad.

Chris ,however was “loved” by the hotel staff- he could get anything his heart desired from them they called him “Monsieur Le Presidente” . I had packed away his “jacket” but he found it and as I looked down the next morning from the hotel balcony I could see him down by the pool making his rounds in his favourite jacket.

“Where was his father – Oh dear “

His father, like Chris, was actually taking in the fact that this French Hotel in the middle of Marrakesh allowed topless sunbathing and the bottoms on the french women left very little to the imagination no pun intended 😉 . Chris was fascinated ( as was his father) and that could explain another of Chris’s proclivities .

There was no getting Chris to remove his jacket and so for the next few days I “stressed” as we went on the various touristy adventures as Chris proudly proclaimed his nationality literally wearing his pride on his sleeves. Luckily once in a while I got my way and the jacket was left in the hotel

Eventually the jacket became too small, smelly and ragged- I purchased a new one and had Nana sew on patches but he was furious that I had thrown his jacket away.

I am not sure he ever forgave me for getting rid of that jacket . He didn’t like the new one and hats took the place of the jacket something that continued to be his trademark.

So as the Who I Am slide at Chris’s graduation from CIA showed on the screen behind him as he graduated I smiled because I KNEW where that had come from and the beginnings- I knew my son………….

I think it then most fitting that Chris’s last design work before he died was actually in honoring a young man from Lorain who gave his life for “freedom and the flag”- Chris was honoured to design the brochure and pay tribute to Eric Barnes ,Lorain Ohio
Another young man who also loved his country and his flag.

Part One In search of my son- In search of me
Part TwoTourjours Moi-Always Me
Part Three Always Me – Always Chris
Part Four In search of My Son-
Chris Ritchey – Thanks

Part Five Dark Humour- Shedding a Light
Part Six – The Unfinished Portrait

Part Seven– The Unfinished Portrait- The Artists
(2) Part Two – Who Are We Really?
Part Eight– When Premonition Becomes Hindsight

Part Nine– When Premonition Becomes Hindsight – Part Two
Part Ten (a)There is an “I” in Death
Part Ten (b)- I didn’t know my son- Chris Ritchey
Part Eleven- Unfinished Portrait the Artistic Gene
Part Twelve- Unfinished Portrait- the Artistic Gene- Part Two
Part ThirteenA Place of Echoes
Part FourteenAn Absence of Laughter
Part 15 Who I am , the artist speaks

March 3, 2011 at 12:06 am 2 comments

World Cup- 2010- More Than A Game

Jules Rimet Wold Cup Trophy.

So it begins the 2010 World Cup , the excitement in South Africa , the crowds, the pageantry all focused on a small round ball. This blog has been receiving a lot of hits due to people searching for South Africa . Rich Robbin wrote a series of posts on this blog chronicling his time in South Africa

The World Cup and Football (Soccer) was all important in this household. Previous World Cup events were looked upon with anticipation, they generated excitement, entertainment and “dreaming”.

I was but a mere slip of a girl myself when England won the 1966 World Cup but I can still remember the explosion of excitement as the announcer said “they think it is all over- it is now!”

Chris and I would ( as he grew) talk and dream about him playing for the 2006 World Cup, but for whom in our dream, England or the USA? 🙂
A couple of trips to England to play at the age of 16 and 17 tested the professional waters and the commitment , talent and lucky breaks needed to play at the European level.

It was decided an “education” was the way to go instead. Chris never lost the love of the game and he would never give up either on the field or in life.

Soccer , even though not at the dreamed of professional level , played an important part of Chris’ life.

High School Alumni Game
He loved the game the camaraderie and the skill. Coaches told me Chris’ although a playmaker his greatest assets was his “vision and heart.”

It was soccer that was center stage in his final for his BFA at CIA.

Graphics (BFA) Chris RITCHEY

The requirement was to show an example of each class taken, product design, glass blowing, photography, graphic design etc. Chris built a mock stadium , developed an advertising concept around his “old, beat-up,much worn, indoor soccer shoe”. Adidas– Durability Mixed with Style

The shoe was the focus of billboards, commercials ( which were videoed and run through a projector under the mock bleachers and projected on the wall of the “stadium” in a continuous loop

World Cup – Chris RITCHEY

He designed tables using glass halved soccer balls and Adidas logos that lit from underneath. There was an awful lot to see in that “mock stadium “ including his design for the “World Cup ala RITCHEY ”
He purposely took the spot to build the “stadium” near the food and wine tables

”That is where the people congregate and since there is no other seating they will head toward the bleaches to sit and my display”


Always thinking my son….. and he was right those with wine and goodies in hand headed for the bleachers 🙂

I miss him and will watch the games in the next days/ weeks not really caring who wins or loses -watching not with joy and anticipation knowing one player has been red carded from the game of life.…..

One “table” is still in his room and lights the night. The World Cup trophy ala RITCHEY takes pride of place there as well. Nikki has the other table and the third waits for its space.

Graphic – Chris RITCHEY

Soccer links

“In search of my son- in search of me.”
Part One In search of my son- In search of me
Part TwoTourjours Moi-Always Me
Part Three Always Me – Always Chris
Part Four In search of My Son-
Chris Ritchey – Thanks

Part Five Dark Humour- Shedding a Light
Part Six – The Unfinished Portrait

Part Seven– The Unfinished Portrait- The Artists
(2) Part Two – Who Are We Really?
Part Eight– When Premonition Becomes Hindsight

Part Nine– When Premonition Becomes Hindsight – Part Two
Part Ten (a)There is an “I” in Death
Part Ten (b)- I didn’t know my son- Chris Ritchey
Part Eleven- Unfinished Portrait the Artistic Gene
Part Twelve- Unfinished Portrait- the Artistic Gene- Part Two

June 13, 2010 at 8:26 pm 3 comments

Africa_ The People- Rich R

Parts One two threefour fivesix seven
ED NOTE: You can also access all the articles by clicking on Africa on the sidebar

I can’t believe my eyes and ears. I am standing there in front of Capetonians. A mix of people. A lot of them, I find out are Muslim. What an education this was going to become.

Our shift was 2:30 – 11:00. I wasn’t quite used to that time-frame for work as it had been a couple months since I worked evenings, let alone the time difference from the US to here! Six hours to be exact. I was tired from the trip, excited from my upcoming experience and awaiting to learn and experience as much as possible.

First on the agenda, of course, is they wanted to know all about me and my family.

Mentioning that my wife and I were going to celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary in late November, they applauded! Then, when I told them I had three children, a daughter married and 2 sons that were single; the questions started to fly. The majority of the girls in the class sat up straight in their chairs. Wanting to know everything I could tell them about my sons…the important things – age, what they looked like, and of course what kind of jobs they had! Me, not thinking at first, gave them as much information as they needed to know.

They applauded when they heard my daughter was a specialist in animal eye care, amazed that a woman could get that far. They really had no concept of where Ohio was, let alone other information about the US that I discussed when they asked me about traveling. All they wanted was to hear more and more about me, my family and my life.

When I told them I had taught high school for 35 years, again a round of applause.

Family and education seem to be very important to these young people. On the family part, I’m not sure because, the 2nd night of class, a lot of the girls came “dressed to the 9’s”…including dresses, heels and jewelry. Smiling from ear to ear. One up front even mentioned about a girl in the back of the class who was going to be my ‘future daughter-in-law”. Some of the agents and I laughed but some were serious.

Calling on their names to have them introduce and tell about themselves was quite difficult…especially trying to pronounce the “traditional” names….some were easy and then the list grew…..I will only mention first names for their sakes!
The easy ones? Renaldo, Felix, Amanda, Dudley, Samantha, Brenda, Fortunate and Linda.

Then the traditional names came through: Nadeema, Aneesah, Thandokazi, Nosiphiwo, Whafieka, Ruwayda, Zandile, Tembisa, Sisa, Sharrol and Bukeka. Those aren’t that difficult but…when I hit the last names; let’s put it this way, there was a lot of laughter.

I learned that they loved me laughing at my mistakes and understood my frustrations at times.

Class went very quickly that night. All in all, it was a good night and I knew that I would have a good experience with them. The driver, John, was ready to “zip” us home that night. When I say “zip” ….we flew at ground level. The lights of Cape Town were like diamonds in the sky. Cargo ships in the harbor, tall buildings, lights of the freeway.
Getting back to the hotel was a ‘blessing’. That night, I slept quite well.

December 19, 2008 at 9:56 pm 4 comments

Cape Town- the destination- Rich R

Part onetwothree fourfivesix

It was a rough night sleeping, new surroundings, new ‘noises’ during the night.
Waves crashing against the break wall not very far from my room. Early in the morning, cars rushing by…people walking, doors closing, the sound of birds that I never realized existed. At least not in real life, only in the movies.

This morning, looking out my window, I noticed people on the rocks where the tide had gone out. They had bags in their hands, picking something up. Later on that morning, I found out they were going to the sea to get clams and other edibles that came in with the evening waves. Free food! Too bad I don’t like things like that, I thought to myself.

I had to go down to the water’s edge to see what it was like. As I walked, I looked around, a lot of people walking their dogs, jogging, bicycles and just sitting their in the sun. It was quite chilly so I had to wear my jacket! The water was very blue-green and glistening as the sun shined on it. Huge cargo ships were awaiting their turn to get into the harbor for unloading. Cape Town is a major shipping point from all around the world!

After a wonderful breakfast at the hotel, I went back up to the room to nap. Try to get my bearings and get some type of sleep pattern, which I realized later on, just would not happen! It was time to get ready for work. We were on the 2:30 to 11:00 p.m. shift and the driver would be there around 1:45 or 2:00 to take us to the new site in the old industrial area of Cape Town.
teltech TelTech Cape Town
Turns out that the site is where the old Lion Match and Razor Blade factory was located. The African government is putting a lot of money into the renovation for the creation of jobs. My current understanding is that there will be approximately 2,500 employees. They’re “ramping” up for the event. Construction inside, and outside…getting ready for full force.

A driver by the name of John picks us up at the hotel. Smiling and greeting us as we enter the van. He is very happy to see the other trainer again and meet me. Laughing, and smiling. Very difficult to understand at first. I have to make a concerted effort to listen closely to what he is saying. He explains the different venues as we drive past.
devils-point Devils Point

Driving through Cape Town was a trip. I’m not used to riding on the opposite side of the street, let alone with 3 lanes of traffic, sometimes almost bumper-to-bumper. We just went past the new stadium being built for the 2010 World Cup. Cape Town is sprucing up for this major event! It sure is going to be HUGE! Next area? Virginia and Alfred Waterfront…talk about a shopper’s/diner’s delight! People, stores, ships everywhere!
On around the corner, looking up at the center of Table Mountain on the freeway. Seeing the trees sway and soon feeling the van shake from the wind! Here to find out, if the wind is not at ground level coming from the ocean, the higher winds hit Table Mountain and flow down across the city from the other side.

We pull up to the site, the site. Not in the best part of the city yet I see they are working to make the surrounding residential areas nice. Row houses! No ‘yards’ so to speak, fences everywhere. Some graffiti and some abandoned buildings. My mind wanders off to a previous time, wondering what it was like in its heyday. I can just imagine how nice it once was. John does say that it is not safe for us to walk around alone. No problem with me. I don’t plan on venturing in this area!

The site is beautiful. Restored brick, paver drive and parking lot. Security guard out front, right across from St. Michael’s and all the other Saints Anglican Church! Again, another wall around it to protect it from the people!

The guard waves us in. We get out, go inside. Beautiful facility – very state of the art!
Security greets me and gives me a temporary badge until the supervisor comes in to do my fingerprint and photo badge. All grinning a mile wide to greet and meet another American who will be training their people.

Fingerprints allow agents and people in the call center area. The guard lets me in through another locked door. Not many people there yet. Some taking calls, others waiting for class to begin!

Jack introduces me to a couple of the supervisors that he knew from his previous training experience in Cape Town. They are very warm and welcoming to me and almost everyone has asked if I have had the chance to eat and how my accommodations were. Well-knowing the time it took to get to Cape Town. I remember back, leaving my home in Lorain at 8:45 a.m. on a Thursday and getting off the plane in Cape Town at 6:30 p.m. Friday evening. The time change was 6 hours ahead of home but, looking at the travel time is mind-blowing.

Jack shows me to my classroom. They have named all of the training rooms after American Football teams. Funny, I thought. Later on, I wished they had not. Why?
They are losing their heritage….too many things are becoming Americanized through the influence of our movies and music!

My room is the Minnesota Vikings room! Purple walls and about 26 computers. I enter the room! There they are, about 24 young Afrikaans, only 4 guys, the rest girls! Dressed quite like a lot of the young do back in the States. They kept looking at me, waiting to hear me speak.

Nervous? HECK YEAH I WAS …..nobody to introduce me. It was my ‘gig’ so to speak, so I had to start things off!

“HELLO CAPE TOWN! My name is Richard and I will be your trainer for the next 5 weeks!” They smiled and said nothing more. I asked where I was. One person said…”you are in Cape Town, South Africa” with a very proud voice. I smiled as they all did. My next comment, I was not sure how they would take it but, here goes …..”Well, if this is Africa, it is beautiful. Definitely not like anything I’ve seen in the old Tarzan movies!” Laugh? Yes, they loved that comment. That broke the ice; they were ready to learn about me, about my family, America and my travel there! Me? I was hungry for their cultural experiences and the knowledge they had to share with me.

I knew right from that moment that this was going to be a life-changing experience and I was ready for it.
To be continued……

December 12, 2008 at 7:55 pm 9 comments

AFRICA- de- planed – Part 6 -Rich R

Part onetwothree four five

We pull up to the hotel. Not only does Edgar get out of the van but a gentleman comes out of the hotel and quickly approaches me with a smile and a greeting!

“Welcome to Cape Manor Hotel. My name is George.”

Quickly he picks up my bags and brings them into the lobby. Everyone smiling. Me totally exhausted from the 26+ hours of travel time. All I wanted to do was get to a bed somewhere!

The front desk ladies are very welcoming and courteous. I could not believe the difference in the employees of the South African hotels and the American Hotels. Somehow I could tell that ‘courtesy’ was not an option. You did not have to look for a bellhop or anyone to help with your luggage. They were right there waiting on you. Come to find out, that is how everyone in South Africa I come in contact with is.

I ask if the other trainer was there yet. They said, “Mr. Jack?” “He is at work and will be back soon. We will leave him a message to contact you.”
George takes me up to my room and would not allow me to carry the littlest thing. Opening the door, I see out the window! Still daylight out….it should be, it’s 6:30 p.m. South Africa time, 12:30 p.m. back home! But the sun is going down. I forgot that they do not change time here like we do back in the States. The ocean was blue and green while clouds were covering the sun as it was setting over the Atlantic. I look out again, there it is! For some reason, I was either hallucinating from the long travel or just imagining but. The American eagle was in the cloud formation! Amazing. I HAD to get a picture of that.

I begin unpacking. George checks back in after about 15 minutes to see if I needed anything and if my accommodations were acceptable! All I could do was say “Thank you! This will be just fine.” He said he will check with me every day to see if I needed anything.

The room was very clean, updated bathroom, cream colored walls and dark furniture. All I could think of was some of the movies I saw in my ‘younger’ days showing people in Africa. A lot of mahogany-like furniture with cream-colored walls. I went downstairs to see if I could get something to eat. A real meal, instead of an airplane foil-wrapped foil container. I greeted the chef and waiters in the dining area. Very neat, clean. One woman mopping floors. Here to find out, she was there over 10 hours per day, mopping at least 3 times a day to keep things clean.

The buffet was amazing, all for R95 (about $9.50 American). Roast beef, roast pork, grilled vegetables, roasted potatoes, salad, breads and many side dishes. Desserts on another table. Thank goodness I could put it on my room tab as I had not gotten to a currency exchange yet and my American Express Corporate card had not arrived! They were shipping it to me at the hotel.

Sleep! I needed sleep, uninterrupted with people, sounds, and bells dinging every time a stewardess would walk by or the captain telling everyone to put on their seatbelts. Surprisingly, I remembered, the flight was very smooth. It is just amazing to think that I was flying over 400 miles per hour at about 38,000 feet for so long.

Jack, the other trainer, sees me in the dining area of the hotel. He greets me saying he just got back from the training site. He said it is quite nice and we will be training from 2:30 – 11:00 p.m. My jaw dropped, but at least I knew I could get some rest before going to work.

We walked about a block and a half away to a small bar he had become accustomed to. Not real busy but me, this being the first time I was there, was quite hesitant to walk the streets. Jack said “it’s cool…just be aware of those around you as we walk.” Oh thanks! Now you tell me, when we’re almost there. The bar had a few people in it. Signs on some walls that recommended safe sex. Here to find out, South Africa is #1 in the world for STD’s and HIV. Very heavy accents. A lot sounding very British/Scottish with an “African” flair to it. It was interesting to listen to the other people in there. One couple sitting in the corner, not wasting any time for what was going to happen later on that evening with them.

Open public display of affection, as I looked around, was not anything to hide. If it felt good, go ahead, just ‘do it’! That seemed to be their motto!

Reaching into my pocket for my alcohol wipes, I cleaned off the table where I was sitting and my hands. The Health Department recommended I bring them along with me and used them wherever I went. I thanked the nurse in my mind. With it being so dark in there, who knows if they wiped off the tables from the last people. Jack bought the first round. It was known as a ‘Springbok” ….Mint liqueur with a shot of Irish Cream on top.
Tasted good. I actually had 2 more that evening and could feel it.

Going around the corner in the bar, I could see the slot machines in the back room. Not sure if they were legal because nobody seemed to advertise them anywhere but they were busy! Boxes of free condoms sitting in a couple of areas from the Health Department. Good idea, I thought with the high birthrate of illegitimate children as well as diseases.

As we walked back to the hotel, I kept looking around. Any noise I heard, I made myself especially aware of its direction as well as what was causing. Was I paranoid? Was I just being too safe? After all, my family was very insistent before I left that I be ‘extra careful.” That was not going to be an option for me!

One thing that surprised me, it was NOT WARM as I opened my window to get some fresh air.

Temperature? Heck, it was colder here than it was home! When I looked at a map, I was down….way down below the equator so I assumed it was just starting to warm up.

Sleep, blessed sleep overcomes me back in the room. The breakfast buffet will be served in the dining area from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

To be continued.

December 6, 2008 at 1:28 am 2 comments

AFRICA- THE ARRIVAL-Notes on a Plane-Pt 5 Rich R

far-from-home Far From Home

The landing is quite smooth. Water everywhere with land off in the distance was awesome! I can’t believe I was flying south of Africa’s furthest point. I wonder how many miles it really was below the continent before we were in line to touch land.

The shuttle to customs was a bit harried! Everyone hurrying to get on the bus; suitcases flinging, bumping other…what for? To stand in line again? The ride was quite long.. must have been on the complete other side of the airport. Bus stops! People hurry to get off and get in line again. Nobody telling the crowd where to go, what line to get into! Just the blue striped aisles up to 3 customs agents. Wait! This isn’t customs! It’s passport checkpoint.

Shuffling of feet …some laughter..people tired….agents behind the desks ..some smiling, others doing their daily job! Some talking, some just staring…others asking “How long you going to be here?” People shuffling again…following the signs to customs. There’s a Currency Exchange booth…nobody there……the airport basically empty. People standing around awaiting their luggage.

One guy up ahead, stopping everyone. Must be customs officer. Who knows. When I approach him, he only asks “How many cartons of cigarettes do you have?” I reply, “One”. Go on, he says. THAT was customs?

Following the blue striped lines like the other ‘cattle’…we enter into the large room where there are a lot of people standing in lines again….blank faces! It was a weird feeling to see all these people and hear nothing.

There’s my driver …standing there with a sign TELETECH looked like he was not very happy! I greet him, he says his name is Edgar! First thing he says, “Welcome to Cape Town. Your plane was quite late!”… very apologetic yet I could tell he was put-out by the whole thing.

Late? The captain said we were arriving early! Oh well, nothing I could do about that!
Edgar puts all of my luggage and carry-on atop one of the luggage carts! Thank God!
I did not want to have to lug those things one more step.

We immediately exit the airport! I follow him. Quite stiff from all the sitting and cramped quarters of my last 26 hours either sitting on an airplane or standing in line.
We walk out to the parking area….”Not very warm for Africa” is what I thought to myself! Hmmm. Must be due to it being 6:30 p.m. almost night time. My adrenaline kept me going! Excited, nervous..not knowing what was next!

Edgar talks to me but I had a very difficult time understanding him. Very softspoken. Not only were my ears still plugged but his accent! Very ‘British/Scottish” and definitive of what I’ve heard on television for South African people.
We get into the van. It felt good to stretch out. Immediately we get out of the parking lot and head onto the freeway! Nothing around but what you could see off in the distance.
Then, all of a sudden…rough metal shacks…attached to each other. Some with metal roofs, others with huge chunks of construction plastic covering boards to keep the rains out!

“What is that area known as?”, I ask.

Edgar says “Those are the squatters or townships. A lot of people living there have nowhere else to live so the government lets them set up homes like that.”

I am amazed at the living conditions. I did see they had electricity but ….the garbage every where, behind barbed wire fences the people walking, children playing. Just amazing.

Edgar goes on to say “a lot of them have escaped over the mountains to where it is safe for them. On the other side of that mountains a lot of people are put into slavery, women are beaten, children abused. They escape to beautiful Cape Town to get away. Those that are lucky not to be eaten by the animals or die from exposure to the mountains usually live here.”

I just don’t understand how people can live like that… mind goes back to my childhood. I remember being the only house of about 20 that had an indoor bathroom. I remember one of my childhood friends living in a house…not like this, but the inside…cardboard walls separating the outside from them. Pot belly stove in the middle of the room for winter months. Not that far off but then again, this IS 2008, not 1957. How my life and lifestyle have changed since I was a child. How my family has changed. One sister gone, both parents gone. Just me and my sister in Virginia left, with our own children. Life goes too fast!

People change! The world changes!

Edgar points out the hospital where Christian Bernard performed the first human heart transplant in the ‘60’s.

The original fort that protected Cape Town built, if I remember right, over 400 years ago. It is still used as a museum.
Continuing on …bright colored buildings….stop at a light, people crossing, running. In a hurry to get home! Me? I can’t wait to get to the hotel! Around the lower level of Devil’s Point ….I can see the harbor….turn right….narrow streets, cars parked on both sides, barely room for 1 to get down there yet it’s still a two-way street.

“This is where your hotel is, Mr. Rich.” Looking down a tree-lined street toward the ocean. Nice! Later on, I find out that some of them were olive trees! hotel
Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four

To be continued….

November 28, 2008 at 3:30 pm 7 comments


ED NOTE: Rich continues with the last part of his plane journey- the excitement and nervousness of reaching his destination becomes more apparent as the hours and airmiles continue
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Off in the distance I can see lights. Must be Dakar, Senegal Africa. A quick land in the dark, like a huge bird flying into the night. Yes, we have landed on African soil. It’s time for the Dakar Security to check our plane. For what? Who knows? We’ve been traveling at 544 miles per hour at nearly 30,000 feet in the air.

Here they come, bright orange security vests on… just like those at sporting events in the States. As they approach the rows, people have to stand up. Have their passports in hand as well as their carry-on bags. Some of the inspectors are very short…actually too short to look inside the bins. One stood on tiptoe, opening the bin. I know he could not see inside but only to push it up and close it back again with a very thick accented “it’s ok.”

Just looking around, you could see some passengers are very nervous. Guards checking their seat cushion, the magazine holder…looking the people over. One guy, I guess the guard did not like his looks so told him to empty his ‘bag’ and ‘show passport’. The gentleman obliged as the guard went through his carry-on. Sitting there while the security check took place and refueling took well over 2 hours.

Finally, we are taking off. This was a very unsettling experience. Why? I have no idea… I guess because of where I was, I was alone with no family members and the unknown of what could happen in this foreign country.

The sun is starting to show over the cloud covered African skies! Beautiful sunrise. Reminded me a bit of Mt. Halelakula in Hawaii except I was flying above the mountains, not standing on one waiting for the sun. At nearly 30,000 feet in the air and it is 37 degrees outside. I was amazed because when we were flying over the Atlantic it was a negative temperature. When we were landed in Dakar at 4:30 a.m. the temperature indicator on the monitors said it was 97 degrees outside. I sure would not want to be there during the heat of the day. But, it IS Northern Africa and that’s where the heat always seems to be.

More people as I really become accustomed to the plane and my fellow passengers.

Pencil-nose lady – wire rimmed glasses, frozen smile, arms crossed, scanning the crowd.

Moustache man – thick, bushy moustache! It really stood out! Maybe mid 40’s. Walking around constantly, trying to make eye contact. Back to his laptop. Maybe he is writing something about the people on the plane as well. Who knows?

As I stand in line to use the restroom, the Harvard girls were doing circles around the cabin.

Mel? Well, he moved up another section with his youngest – even though they could sit anywhere BUT move to another area of the plane. Not good old Mel though. He made sure everyone knew he was moving up no matter what the flight attendants said.

Me? I moved to the others side of the plane – empty seats – behind the wing so I could see land instead of water as we were flying down the Western coast of Africa. Still over water in that section of Africa that kind of curves in. But I could see land approaching,rivers winding through the mountains….flying over the coast…looking at a map – here I was, just leaving the Ivory Coast! All I could think of was all the movies of Tarzan and the African adventurers – hunting the Ivory Coast for the almighty elephant tusk!

Time to destination – Cape Town, South Africa! Approximately 3 hours. Clouds disappearing and clear skies up ahead. Can’t wait to see land and mountains. Can’t wait to get my feet on land.

Captain announces “ladies and gentlemen” we will be arriving in Cape Town in approximately 2 hours. We are now flying at 30,510 feet, 531 miles per hour and have a hefty tailwind of 123 miles per hour. Looks like smooth sailing from here on.

The sight out the window was absolutely gorgeous! Bright blue skies. I could see the whole South Africa landscape – Table Mountain off in the distance…the Sleeping Giant!
I can see why people love flying over this part of the world.
tabletop Table Mountain

Lion’s Head Mountain (really the feet of the sleeping giant)…the waterfront – seas of green and blue! Ships in the harbor. Out on the seas, awaiting arrival. Captain says we arrived a bit early and our gate was not ready so they would bus us to the customs and immigration areas.

AFRICA .. I am here!

November 20, 2008 at 8:31 pm 6 comments

NOTES ON A PLANE – Part Three -by Rich R

ED NOTE- As Rich is “strapped in for the duration ” he experiences the “dark and the loud “of fellow travellers!


The people! What a mix! Young, old….abrupt! Everyone traveling somewhere… just like me. We will be landing in Dakar, Senegal but the stewardess said only a couple of people would be getting off.

There were two very annoying women about 4 rows behind me that wanted as many people as they could to hear their conversations. I’ll call them “Harvard, ’96” and“Lived there, ‘97”.

“Harvard, ‘96”
“I don’t want to see Europe any more. Glad we are going to South Africa. This is weird to be together on this vacation!”

The funny thing was… “Lived there, ‘97” did not even know “Harvard, ‘96” the way the conversation went!

“Harvard, ’96” rattled off all sorts of guys names….Bob, Michael, Carmel…the list goes on. “Lived there97” knew them as well. Heck, “Lived there 97’s” living room faced the one guy’s bedroom window so she had a lot of stories to share. Ones, she said she wished were hers. They both giggle. It’s really funny how people, I guess complete strangers, finally meet and share “activities” on a plane. Sounded like most of Harvard knew both ladies.

Both divorced….seemed they lived the same life style – cocktail parties, operas, theatre, art reviews…yet so tired of ‘shallow relationships’. They just did not supply her with the things she wanted.

My thoughts? Just not enough bedroom windows to watch instead of television.
I need to get away from these 2 ….can’t take the giggling…both looked in their mid to late 20’s, dressed to the 9’s. I put my earplugs in and could still hear them at times.

Then there was “Mel”. Looked a lot like Mel Gibson yet much softer. Followed by his (excuse the expression) blonde bimbo wife, baby in his arms and 2 kids about 6 and 8 years old following attentively. Mel is making sure everyone sees him and his trophy family! After getting the group back into their seats way back in the plane, Mel keeps walking up and down the plane with the baby in his arms. Looking and smiling at everyone who looks up.

Here we go – the “Harvard’s are at it again!”

Harvard ’96 They shouldn’t put so much money into those buildings. They should put it into books and computers and save the rest for the poorer neighborhoods.

Lived there, ’97But they all don’t have electricity.

Out of the blue, Harvard ’96 says “Well then just get rid of plastic bottles! All it’s doing is just polluting the place.”

These women are, in my opinion crazy! Comments, statements that make no sense yet they want everyone to know how “educated” or “uneducated” they are! All they cared about really was the name Harvard.

Walking to the back of the plane, people are sleeping, reading books, watch the movie or just staring into space.

Where all these people came from, I wonder. What were their life experiences? After the Harvard girls, I’m not sure I really want to know.

There’s another ‘bimbo’…so to speak! Maybe a ‘gold digger’ as they used to call them.
Leaning on the shoulder of a gentleman much older than her!

The lady in her late 60’s, glasses on the tip of her nose, reading over them…gold chains, a ring on every finger, almost platinum colored hair from a bad dye job! All impressive to who?

There’s a young couple – hanging onto each other – looking like they’re out to save the lost souls in South Africa.

The guy with bright red shirt (almost glowing) – nasty beard, jeans, cell phone in his hand reading who knows what! Circling the area – talking about wines coming out of storage….huge gold watch on his right arm! Talking louder about the white wine that must be sold immediately! He owes someone, he has said over and over as he walks in a panicked circle around the plane! Too much to do…the plane is not moving fast enough.

The guy in the corner, definitely African. White top and pants that match! Pill box hat and 2 gentlemen in 3-piece suits sitting by him…watching his every move. Must have been someone special from South Africa. They didn’t even let him go to the bathroom alone. One always had to follow.

The young couple, giggling over pictures on a laptop!

The list could go on and on! These have impressed me in some way or form. Caught my eye and my mind enough to have me take them into this writing.

Sleep time – just over 8 hours to go and we will land in Dakar, Senegal Africa!
Then 8 more hours to Cape Town.

November 14, 2008 at 12:52 am 3 comments



As every weary traveler can attest, there is a safety mechanism that kicks in to protect your mind and body from going numb on these journeys. Sometimes it is ( as one Aussie mentioned) a “sleeping pill and a slug of brandy” for others a book, for Rich it has always been noticing his surroundings, and being trapped in a tin tube at 35,000 feet he found his own safety valve from boredom as he traveled to the African Continent from Cleveland

Part One Notes on a Plane can be found here


Bumpy again, really dark outside. Here I sit, thinking that only 5 ½ hours more and I will in Dakar, Senegal, Africa. The city that I often see on Amazing Race. There, it’s only at night as well while their planes land and off they go. Oh I wish that was going to be my experience with Dakar. However, I knew that would not be the case. The stewardess said we would be stopping in Dakar for refueling and their security will come on board to do a sweep.

What is this I am thinking? Why now after flying over 8 hours over the Atlantic would they do a security check? Come to find out…Dakar considers itself a separate ‘nation’ (so to speak) and they tax the airlines and require security sweeps. The stewardess said we would have to get our carry on bags and get out of our original assigned seats. Security would come on board and check bags if they like and other things.

Darn this would be so much easier to write if I had a laptop! The world of computers has changed my life so much. I hate to write these days. Thank God I am a fast typist. The words just don’t flow through the ink pen as they do the keyboard.

Looking back, sitting in JFK, Terminal 3, and Gate 8 was no picnic. Three hours of just sitting, wondering what my next few weeks would be like. Will I like Cape Town?<em> Will the people greet me with an open mind? Will I accept them? Will I survive the ‘culture shock’? I mean, come on now, the old Tarzan movies were the only experience I had with Africa and I surely could not expect to be boiled in a cauldron…at least I hope not!

There was a “security guard”…if you want to call him that…and just me -sitting there. Me, two carry on bags…him – a cell phone and a backpack on the floor. He had his New York City Transit Security dress blues and white engraved shirt…all of a sudden, he just started talking.

“Where you from?”
“I’m from Alaska. Just transferred here.”
Oh, I said with a nod.
“Do you like baseball?”
Yes, I replied but not to the point where I’ll know everything.
“I like football”.
That’s cool.
“No good teams in Alaska. Not enough people I guess.”
I’m sure, but I can’t afford to help pay those salaries to go to the games.

Me? Making sure my hand is through the handles of both bags. He kept looking at me. Looking at his cell phone. Looking at me again. Kind of unnerving. For some reason, I just did not trust this guy. He was stabbing at a conversation between his grunting and cell phone. No special reason for the distrust. Just uncomfortable feeling. I just away and stare down the long empty corridor with him in sight off to the side.

“It’s cold in here.”

Not bad for me, I replied.

He gets up and starts walking away, staring at me and talking on his cell phone.
Finally, more people! I’m not alone in this cavern!

To be continued………

November 7, 2008 at 5:58 pm 9 comments

NOTES ON A PLANE- Guest Blogger- RICH R.

ED NOTE: This is the first part of a series on Rich R.’s trip to the African Continent


Time to destination: 6 hours 28 minutes

Here I sit hours before putting my feet on African soil – probably the first time for anyone of my Italian immigrant lineage. Who knows?

The flight from Cleveland to New York was smooth and fast! Met a kid (23 year old) who sat next to me. He turns, greets me. I am shocked a younger person actually acknowledge the ‘older person’ that I am. He was 23 years old – looking unkempt and like he had a rough night.

He introduced himself without a name… just saying he was from Slovakia, a student at a university majoring in some type of engineering, hoping to get rid of plastic bottles (as he drank out of one) and laughed. He had been working at none other than Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio for the summer. This was his 3rd summer there working. And, with a smile, he finally got out of laundry and into McDonalds. It was a proud smile that he had when he made that comment. Amazing what we scoff at while others are so proud of things like this as an accomplishment.

Him? I will call him Slovakia for no purpose other than not knowing his given name. He spoke with a strong accent and at times it was very difficult to understand. The gist of his summer seemed to be ….party, party, drink beer, and more partying. Sitting there listening, I was not sure I wanted to be that age again!

Slovakia said he did not sleep at all last night – worked a 10 hour day and partied all night and quickly threw his backpack together to leave for home and university to begin on Monday. This was Thursday!

A few times, he did say ‘those 16-year olds sure know how to party!” With that, his face went blank and gave the gaze of someone twice his age ..wondering why they act like that.

Our plane landed about 20 minutes early so we had to unload at another gate on the opposite side of JFK Airport – far, far away from the international flight area. Gate 29 …that’s where I was …my next plane toward Cape Town, South Africa? Gate 8, in a completely other building! My frustrations were building already. Luckily I did not have to get all of my luggage and haul it there.

I stumbled my way through the airport – passing all sorts of food venues – around the corner, to the left, follow the arrows! To the right – up another ramp – only to look down a long narrow hallway with miniature people at the other end. I kept forging on to get there….oh, oh – seat belts … turbulence at 35,000 even to where the flight assistants had to sit down. A bit bumpy, good thing I had my coffee earlier! TO BE CONTINUED…………..

Photos by Rich R.

November 2, 2008 at 8:06 pm 9 comments



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