“Every person you know has the potential of being so horrible you want to kill them or so wonderful that you want to be with them forever, and the part they are showing to you is the part that is active in you” – Abraham-Hicks
Here I am, buzzed, maybe a little drunk already, in a foreign land only a mile or two from one of the largest and most dangerous slums in Africa (and maybe the world) waiting for the arrival of a gorgeous stranger. Waiting way too long. Fear begins to creep its way into my thoughts. Do I believe the horror stories that have been fed to me since I arrived? Do I listen to the advice given to me and take it easy? Or do I trust in the world and the universe and mankind and order a strong drink? How strong is my faith? And how good is humanity? Do I truly believe that man is innately good? I’m about to test my theory. There’s no better time than now. A new culture, a new place, and a new adventure await for those that dream and long for something more. So is it luck or is fate so unfortunate for me that I’m blinded by my own delusions? Ahhh, the beauty of traveling.
Sitting here at a Nairobi brew pub, Brew Bistro, listening to the chatter among the locals speaking in a mixture of Swahili and English, I realize I’m a little more buzzed than I intended. Not sure if it’s the ABV of the beers I’m drinking, or the atmosphere, a mixture of both or perhaps it’s the lingering paranoia of getting drugged. Apparently it’s a concern for expats/foreigners. Maybe I’m in a trance from the live music being played by a local band that has a warm feel that reminds you of home but also exudes an exotic flavor that will remind any man of their distance from true comfort. Oh, what the hell? This very life is short anyway and as my friend Gavin likes to say, “Gotta die someday, might as well be today!”
“Whiskey and coke please.”
“Of course, sir. Is your friend still coming?” the friendly waiter asks me, while trying to take the drink menu.
“Yes,” I responded with uncertainty in my voice, holding onto the menu.
As I look around I notice the local women at the tables around me batting their eyes at me. The hostess at the front keeps looking over, giggling, and waving. This is unusual. Not the flirting as much as standing out. I can blend in nearly anywhere in the world, but in Kenya I can’t seem to do anything discretely, and they make sure to bring it to your attention. Then a bizarre incident unfolds in front of me. In walks these tall and super thin Kenyan women that clearly took way too much time to get all dolled up. Not just walking though, but flaunting their catwalk like they were at Paris Fashion Week… in slow motion, with the most pretentious looks on their faces. They strut back and forth from the entrance of the bar to the outdoor patio door multiple times. I’m not sure what this spectacle was meant to accomplish but it was undeniably entertaining. This is about the time I should have remembered that my own actions are on display at all times for my sheer physical appearance in this distant land. I was staring.
“Would you rather spend your night with one of those models?” a voice teased with playful disapproval.
I turn my head to see my date, Ane, had arrived. I could barely contain my laughter. They were actually models? She didn’t believe me when I said I wasn’t interested. I just wanted a pretty guide to escort me around the city. She quickly convinced me to leave with her to a place a few miles away. A couple of shots of tequila later my driver was taking us to a club in the Westlands area of Nairobi. We walk through security into a crowded room filled with a strong stench of body odor, loud music and was dimly lit with the exception of these wild, multicolored lights dancing all over the walls. I walk towards the bar area where I look back only to notice I had lost my date. I figured if I sat at the bar she would eventually find me. Then, I experienced another bizarre moment. As I looked around I saw several expats surrounding the bar. Very old, white men with young Kenyan women hanging all over them. Every last one. What the fuck was going? Maybe I was drugged. Was I hallucinating? I was so lost in thought that I nearly missed the most beautiful lady in the place sitting directly next to me, seemingly bored. She turned her back on one of the drunken 200-year-old men trying to hit on her.
“Is it always like this with the wrinkly, old men and the 20-something-year-old Kenyan women?” I asked, nearly shouting because of the music.
“Unfortunately, yes” she smiled at me with those batting eyelashes I had seen earlier in the evening. This is when I began to take score.
My date got lost in the horde of people. I just made a new friend. I’m hanging out in Kenya! I’m healthy. I get to write. I get to play music. I’m safe. I’m a lucky fuck to be able to travel and meet all kinds of new, interesting people. I figured at this point I could stop being paranoid. Stop listening to the handful of unfortunate experiences others have had. People constantly live in the same space and have completely different experiences. I know that my environment is a reflection of my mentality. I can either be untrusting of my future or simply expect good things to come. Those are really the only options we have. I have made my decision.
Will Smith says, “Just decide!” What’s your decision?