Kenya Day 1

More than a month ago I left New York and flew east with Natalia Rios, Larry Fishbourne, and Laityn Graham to Nairobi, Kenya.

The 777 rose from JFK aeroport and flew east across the Atlantic. The flight was not full and we were able to stretch out across the 3-seat economy section. Natalia and Laityn slept like queens. Larry and I watched movies. We arrived in Nairobi at dawn.

No one was waiting for us, but we were out of the cold winter and standing in Africa.

The mother continent.

I called Sadique from Kili Initiative. He was on his way. I sat down and told my young friends all was good. Strangely we were happy. The four of us didn’t know each other. They were in their 20s. I was an old man, but we were together.

Sadique showed up and we piled into a van. Our destination was the Nairobi YMCA.

They had a swimming pool. I swam in it. The water was cool. Nairobi was equatorial, but high on the plains like Denver. We met the Kenyan crew.

Juba, Jackman, Vanessa, Ubah, and Maureen.

They were young.

I was old.

They said nothing about my age and after lunch our group walked through the parks of the city centre.

I was the only M’zoongoo in sight. My friend and Kili Initiative founder, Tim Challen, had warned me of this, but I felt good to be a minority. At leasdt I didn’t feel alone with my new young friends.

Steve was our guide. He worked for the Kili Initiative, but also for the rescue crew of Nairobi.

He believed in safe knowing all about danger for the US Embassy bombing. He is a true hero even if he is an Arsenal fan.

Now skater charged the concrete.

The city was peaceful.

Our team spoke with reservation.

We had a month together ahead of us.

Africa was a different world.

But so were were.

Happy Padraic’s Day

Shot from the Stone Throne of Ballyconneeley 1997

DIRTY OLD TOWN by the Pogues

Several hundred bands will parade up 5th Avenue in New York in honor of St. Padraic. Not one of them will play DIRTY OLD TOWN. I love the Pogues and what about Spider’s teeth. real stumps they are.

So for a good lift go to this URL

And if you don’t like it, Go hifreann leat!

The Irish Are Coming

I extended invitations to a drinking Craic around the Village for St. Patrick’s Day. My good friend JW, skateboarder/urbanologist, begged off joining us with the following words.

“I’m back. Happy St. Patrick’s day

I think I might beg off tonight, But thanks for the invitation. I’m honored

But I want to hibernate a bit and stay away from the sauce

Too much sauce in Tucson!

Mys response was swift.

Hibernating during the high holy holiday of hibernian inebreation is heresy

Irish: Go dtachta na péisteoga do thóin bheagmhaitheasach.

English: May the worms choke your worthless butt.

I understand JW since Tuesday evening I did a practice run in the East Village

A coma yesterday

Today beer-hungry.

Drinking with two comrades-in-arms

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

ERIN GO BALI by Peter Nolan Smith

My first trip to Bali was in 1990. Most tourists gravitated to Kuta Beach for sea, sun, and fun. Being a pseudo-intellectual I opted for Ubud, an idyllic village of Legong dancers, ornate temples, and quiet evenings, where I rented a small house overlooking an idyllic stream.

My house servant served breakfast in the morning. I wrote on a Brother Electric Typewriter. There was no phone service with the outside world or TV.

At night I listened to the BBC World News and read tattered used books. Dragonflies buzzed through the room and the stars tolerated no earthly rival. I loved Ubud and stayed in the town for several months.

Nearing March 17th I mentioned to several westerners or ‘mistahs’ that we should have a St. Patrick’s Day. None of them shared my Hibernian roots, however my Balinese friends were enthused to celebrate being Irish by drinking beer.

“And we wear green.”

My house servant Tuut shook his head.

“Can not wear green. This unlucky color.”

“Unlucky.” He had used the Bahasa word ‘blog’. I had never heard it before.

“Yes, my uncle he have green car and have many accidents.”

“Green is good luck in Ireland and Ireland is the European Bali.”

“Ireland tidak Bali. No green and you not wear green too.” Tuut was adamant about this edict, but said, “We drink beer and make music.”

“That is good luck?”

“Drink beer always good luck. Especially if a ‘mistah’ paid for it.”

I didn’t argue with tradition and adjusted St. Patrick’s Day in accordance with local customs.

On March 17th Tuut, his friend, and I drank beer at the Cafe Bali. They brought drums. I sang Irish songs and at sunset we marched down Monkey Forest Road with me singing BY THE RISING OF THE MOON.

Tuut said it was a sweet song.

“By the rising of the moon.” That was the only line that came to mind.

I made up the rest.

Other Balinese joined us. We trooped back to the Cafe Bali and switched to ‘arak’, a strong palm wine. It wasn’t as strong as Jamison’s Whiskey, but it was a good drink for the first St. Patrick’s Day in Ubud and I told Tuut, “Maybe one day you will wear green.”

“Maybe a long time away from today.”

“But not as far as never. Semoga Beruntung.”

I thought that meant good luck and replied, “Go n-éirí an bóthar leat!”

Everyone clinked beer glasses.

And I told myself that maybe one day I’ll get the Balinese to wear green.

It’s a color close to my heart.