Is fate a real thing?
If it is, and It might be, can fate hear you talking about it with confident certainty?
Does this irritate fate?
I think it does.
It’s said after all, “Man makes plans and God laughs”
When I went to the docks yesterday to verify the October 22nd departure of a boat to Cotonou, Benin, the man with a wiry moustache and his comrade, Old Fat John Baptiste I think, were not pleased to see me.
They were confused, both hoping the other would break the bad news to me.
They acted like sullen, bereaving aristocrats.
From once was jazz, now punk these sounds do play.
From “Oh yes, theres a boat and its leaving on the 22nd”
Now, “Oh you, there’s no boat, check back on Thursday…”
“I can’t afford to do that!” I said groping my face and beard more than usual.
“Oh” said Old Fat John Baptieste, realizing in that moment, I live in a hotel.
The truth is I expected a boat to be leaving today, I expected to be on it.
I also expected my armpits to be in better shape.
Planning for the possibility that my expectations would not be recognized, escaped me compleatly.
In this way, all my last minute frustrations, have been of my own construction.
After having a long, painful conversation in infantile french with despondent, borderline crossword immersed men, who both carry the invisible attitude of “I just dont give a fuck.”
I decided to close the boat hope factory in Libreville.
I laid off all my staff.
Happy Halloween to you and your fucking kids.
I must deal with Equatorial Guinea, now.
son of a BITCH!
For those word detectives reading this, “deal with” denotes some form of obstacle acknowledgement or creating solutions for problems so transcendent they seem to manifest and vanish in the same moment.
Like steam setting off your smoke detector.
A big part of solving travel problems is identifying what’s within your scope of participation and what can be ignored.
Who among us knows from what direction water enters your home or apartment?
Who, god damn it!
Don’t worry about it.
Until you must.
In a way I guess, that’s what my past few days have been.
After last weeks Pants Meltdown, I swore I would never again go to the Equatorial Guinea Embassy.
I’m taking a boat around your little asshole country, I think my exact words were.
Fate, I’m assuming, did not like that.
There I was back at the old familiar door, this time wearing my Ethiopian dress pants and dressy toe shoes.
The man at the front wore a collared shirt, that was buttoned in a way that said, “I have chains, many chains, some are gold, look at my chains” confidently.
He recognized me.
He asked rhetorically while pointing to his pants, “were you here last week?”
“Oui” I said, eager to move on.
He meticulously verified I had all the essential ingredients to be moved into the next circle of authority.
He waved me toward an outdoor patio set, said some french words and sat down with his friends, picking up where he left off before I interrupted him.
After about thirty minutes, I realized I was not a priority for anyone, anymore.
I asked Mr. T., what the procedure was?
“The Embassy Ferme” He said with mild sympathy.
The men he was sitting with were now telling me to come back tomorrow.
“Qu est- ce heure ferme” I interrupted like a rampaging illiterate troll.
‘Trois heures” they replied.
It was 3:15.
I walked home.
It was a long walk.
I needed it.
Some where along the way I allowed this bureaucratic torture maze to suck all the fun out of my Africian experience, I thought to myself, attempting to shift gears into a lighter mood.
But my gearbox was busted, every time I shifted the transmission kicked me out of gear, making a horrible grinding sound.
Did I just use a car analogy?
DAD! I JUST USED MY FIRST CAR ANALOGY!
I don’t know french, but I can talk like a grease monkey.
That night I hit my twelve year old guide book, with new and improved internet assist, to carve out a relatively safe path to Morocco.
Kind of a oxymoron there.
The beasts I’m determined to conquer.
1.The Democratic Republic Of Congo. check.
After hours of pouring over maps and articles, I felt confident in my draft route to Calabar, Nigeria.
The route is, as follows:
Libreville > Cocobeach.
Take a pirogue (small canoe) over the border to Acalayong, Equatorial Guinea.
Possibly go to isle of Corsica for a visit, once in Equatorial Guinea.
Acalayong > Bata
Bata > Yengùe
Yengùe <CAMEROON BORDER> Campo, Cameroon.
Possible excursion to Memve’ ele waterfalls.
Memve’ ele waterfalls > Yaoundé – where I will apply for a Nigerian visa.
Yaoundé > Douala
Douala > Idenao
Where I will take a boat into, Ibaka or Calabar, Nigeria.
That’s my plan.
Such that it is.
You don’t want to plan too far ahead.
Lest what happened to me, happens to you.
You do however, want to plan far enough ahead that the geography and names are familiar to you.
Geographical familiarity is gold during embassy shake downs and in chaotic bus pits.
Get a feel for where you’re going and how you expect to get there.
Personally, I like to see it on a map.
This is why I take Lonley Planet guide books with me.
That’s less a product plug and more of a fact.
In order for my plan to activate I need my Equatorial Guinea Visa.
After staying up half the night with my head lamp on, plotting and confirming, I woke up early, disheveled, for my third at bat with the embassy.
.Ethiopia Dress Pants on, check.
.Toe shoes ready, check.
.Yellow fever card (70$ DRC forgery), check.
.Two passport photos, check
.USB drive with prepared hotel reservations (that I cancel as soon as I get my visas), check.
Let’s suck the days dick! I thought enthusiastically, locking the door behind me.
Mr. T. opened the the door to the embassy, not at all surprised to see me, at 8am.
He waved me toward the main entrance to the embassy, which is really just a house with employees.
I sat down and waited.
Soon a man in dance club attire came to lead me to his office down a hall.
Was I annoyed I was being forced to wear pants by the guy who shows up to work dressed like a fucking mushroom dealer from the 70’s?
This is why I will refer to him as Tank the Queef.
He took all my things.
The cost was a staggering 100,000 Francs for the visa.
That’s 200$ people.
The most expensive visa I have ever owned.
He took my wad of purple contemptuously unorganized bills and individually made them uniform.
Unfolding miniature imperfections.
Like Tank Evans worships his trophies (his ladies) in Surfs Up.
“Hotel reservation? He asked.
It’s on my USB I said, showing him the drive.
Annoyed I wasn’t prepared for his request.
“Can I print it here?” I asked
“No” he said, closing a pink folder with my documents inside.
“But Monsieur”, I said, pointing to the two hundred dollars in his hands.
“No“, He repeated.
“Ok, I have to go find a printer”, I said.
Putting my passport and yellow fever card back in my Gucci fanny.
When I went to take the money, he pulled back.
He pointed to the door then
pointed to where I was sitting.
“Come“, he said.
I hate you, I thought.
Off I went, in the pouring rain, down a dirt road, looking for a printer.
Not loving Africa.
Very much wanting to break up with her.
A group of men, confused by my presence in their sopping taxi park began yelling out “Ça va?“, with genuine concern.
“Yeah, real ça va”, I said to myself.
I approached two military men wearing blue G.I Joe style fatigues, hiding under a tin awning, then pantomimed what a printer does, including sound effects, which in hindsight, is a pretty sexy pantomime.
They both walked me to a near by produce stand where I printed a hotel reservation for Equatorial Guniea and Cameroon.
My next visa Goliath.
I rewarded them both with 500 Francs (a buck)
They exchanged confident smirks, “I’m glad we helped this guy.”
I walked back to the Embassy absolutely soaked.
Mr. T. was now totally sympathetic to my presence.
One could say he “pitied the fool”
No bullshit, just go in the building, please.
Tank the Queef appeared and again waved me inside his freezing office.
I gave him the reservation, he looked at it, fake interested.
Like I would a two year olds finger painting.
After he said words, I absorbed that my visa would be ready at 2.
It was 11.
So I walked to Birdy Art, now called Club House which took fourty minutes.
The rain stopped and the sun started vaporizing all the moisture.
The temperature shifted in an almost comical way.
Hold a steamer 10 inches from your face.
Gabon at noon.
Once I got to Club House.
Where I shot some of my previous video, the parts where I’m drinking tart juice.
The embassy called me.
Blah blah blah, visa.
“Ok, trente minutie!“, I said hanging up.
Took a taxi back for my 5th at bat.
Tank the Queef impatiently waved me in to his office again from the empty foyer.
I saw immediately he scribbled a bunch of shit on the hotel reservation.
“Oh Fuck” I thought, “It’s not ready“.
Apparently, from what I can piece together, Tank the Queef called the hotel.
A guy answered, not in a official hotel manner, in a way that seemed too personal for Tank the Queefs liking.
Tank the Queef wanted me to stay at the Hilton.
Book a room at the Hilton right now in Malabo and you can have your precious visa.
“No” I said, “I have a room booked”.
“I’m not staying at the Hilton”.
“It’s too expensive.”
That’s when Tank the Queef started laughing.
You’re all rich.
His laughter gave me an instant headache.
Well, less a headache.
And more a searing pain in my brain, from restraining myself from
choking Tank the Queef until he turned purple, and killed.
I wanted to slay this guy.
I refused to stay at the Hilton, he refused to give me a visa.
The thing of it is, I have no intention of going to the island Malabo.
It’s a 10 hour ferry from Bata and out of my way.
The hotel reservation I have on Malabo will be cancelled as soon as I obtain my visa.
The Hilton, would be harder to cancel.
This video captures a small part of the insane conversation(s) that happened at the embassy.
I won’t go into why this has been so frustrating for me.
If you’re human.
And you like to explore the world.
You get it.
I packed up my shit, now committed to going north east to Cameroon around Equatorial Guinea.
A significant part of my plan changed.
Just like that.
Because of a queef.
Tank the Queef.
He doesn’t smell, necessary.
However, I don’t like the sounds he makes.
Once I left the embassy house, I encountered a man who looked a lot like Orlando Jones, standing on the landing.
“How are you?” He asked in English, with an amusing Chinese accent.
I whined to this stranger like Randall Weems would wine to Ms Finster.
Which is to say, pathetically.
I have nothing to loose.
I’m going to tell you all the reasons why your embassy sucks.
And I don’t care what you think.
After my forked opinions he told me to come back inside.
Where he made Tank the Queef give me a 15 day tourist visa.
Fuck yeah Orlando Bloom baby!
Now, I have 1 of 2 visas collected.
I need a Cameroonian visa issued here in Libreville, to complete the set.
Because the embassy for Cameroon in Equatorial Guinea is on Malabo island, despite what everyone thinks, I ain’t going to Malabo.
Say outta Malabo DEADBEAT!
Was I relived to get the visa?
What did I learn from my 5 at bats?
I have to relax and not take all this bureaucratic bullshit so personally.
I’m never trapped.
I can out smart and out Fassbender any embassy goon here.
I will enjoy the game.
As hard as it is to even suggest such a thing.
If I can succeed, I will have become, Africa.