The Root: Plantation Tours: You Can't Expect to Hear How Horrible Slavery Really Was

The Whitney Plantation

I’m not sure how I picked up the hobby of touring plantations. I think it started with my interest in architecture—picked up from my husband, who works in real estate—and my best friend of 20-plus years, who is an interior designer. Over the years, I’ve adopted their combined interests.

I’ve been to four plantations and an antebellum home with slave quarters over the past few months. That certainly doesn’t make me an expert on slavery or plantations. But it has given me some perspective on the popular article “I Used to Lead Tours at a Plantation. You Won’t Believe the Questions I Got About Slavery,” written by Margaret Biser for Vox.

Biser, who described herself as someone who once “worked at a historic site in the South,” shared her observations of some white people who visited the grounds and the sometimes bizarre questions they asked. I’ve had my own experiences with strange questions on the tours, notably all from black people, and also the bizarre commentary from white—always white, always women—docents.

My first plantation tour took place in March, when I visited Magnolia Plantation & Gardens in Charleston, S.C. The tour of the big house was OK, though it was smaller than I expected. I appreciated the architecture and interior, though I was never able to separate the opulence from the people who toiled miserably in cotton or tobacco fields. Every time the tour guide made a sweeping gesture alluding to the grandness of a room, I wondered about the enslaved men and women who were forced to work for free to make such luxuries possible.

As the other visitors, all of them white except for a friend accompanying me, oohed and aahed, I wondered if they were picturing themselves heading back in time and imagining what life would have been like then. As a black girl with a great-grandfather born into slavery, I know how I would have lived: enslaved, considered property, doing backbreaking work for no pay, subjected to the demands of Massa and Missy, and living under the threat of violence at any time. Standing in one of the upper bedrooms, I thought, “This visit was a bad idea,” and whispered to my friend, “Never again.”

The slave quarters, distant from the big house, required a separate tour. Of our big-house group of 30 or so, just four of us boarded a trolley that took us down the road to the cabins. The tour guide, a peppy young woman in her early 20s, walked us out to the restored one-room shacks, which she described as "duplexes" because they had attic space that enslaved people slept in.

She told our group that enslaved men and women were treated and fed well on the plantation. In fact, they “were like family” to the owners. She went on to tell the story of a black family who stayed on the plantation beyond the Civil War and into the 1960s because they were loyal and they were so happy there. Then she showed us a cabin with psychedelic wallpaper. My friend and I had exchanged “This is bulls--t” glances throughout the tour, but our eyes locked the longest and rolled the hardest over these details.

The Evergreen Plantation, where the film Django Unchained was filmed

Oddly, this perspective on slavery actually made me want to go back on my word and visit more plantations, if for no other reason than to hear who was telling revisionist history and who wasn’t. Was every plantation selling “The slaves were so happy!” stories, or was anyone revealing 12 Years a Slave realness?

Last week I was in New Orleans and stopped by the Hermann-Grima House in the French Quarter. It was the city house of a family that owned a large sugarcane plantation elsewhere in the state. Enslaved men and women were kept in an apartment-style building in the backyard.

The docent, a white woman, of course, was visibly nervous. I was the only black person on the tour. Was she nervous because of me? She alternately referred to the enslaved women and men who worked in the home as “dependencies” and “domestic workers.” When she actually called them “enslaved men and women,” she stumbled over the words as if she weren’t used to the phrase. I wondered if she used that politically correct phrase with all-white groups. No one asked anything like what Biser described in her article.

After the tour, I double-checked some numbers and dates with her because I knew I would write about my visit. She answered my questions, then added unexpectedly that the current owners of the home don’t really like the docents to talk about slavery, but she’s a historian and thinks it should be mentioned. I thanked her for clarifying.

On the final day of my trip, I headed an hour out to Old River Road, a 100-mile stretch of two-lane road with plenty of plantations, including the Evergreen Plantation, which was featured in Django Unchained. (A TV show was shooting on location, so it was closed to the public.) A friend from Louisiana recommended that I start with the recently restored Whitney Plantation, which was now a museum dedicated to the history of slavery.

Slave cabins on the Whitney Plantation

Of our tour group of 20 or so, there were five black people: me, three women and a man, all of whom looked to be in their late 50s to early 60s. By their accents, I assumed they were from the South. Only their questions struck me as bizarre.


We were standing by a monument to enslaved people that included only their first names, ages, any skills and the region in Africa where they were stolen from. The guide had just explained that the only way researchers were able to retrieve this information was by looking at property records.

From one of the black women: “Did the slaves have birth certificates?”

Um, no. Enslaved men and women were not considered people. Maybe she wasn’t paying attention to the docent. I gave her a pass.

Inside a slave cabin at the Whitney Plantation

Our group moved on to the on-site slave jails. The parish jail was for people actually considered human. The “property” who needed to be locked up for whatever reason were punished or held in a square contraption. There were hooks showing where they could be shackled to the wall.

From one of the black women: “When the slaves were in slave jail, were they allowed out for exercise?”

Um ... no.

I was happy that they were on the tour in order to learn. But I was surprised that black people, especially those from the South, knew so little about slavery and seemed to think the treatment of enslaved men and women reflected a modern, humane way of life. Ignorance about slavery is not the sole domain of white people.

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Nairobi Day 4: Baby Elephants x 100 Shilling Tequila Shots

  We went to visit orphaned elephants, under that age of 3 years old. Cute as hell.

I planned to write an actual Day 4 post, but….

Cousin G and I went to see the elephants in the morning.

And on the way back to the cottage, we stopped at the grocery store.

And at the grocery store, I bought two big bottles of water, a bug bottle of juice, and a bottle of rose for under $6.

I drank half the rose for brunch, sorta. It would have been actual brunch, but there was no food because we only bought enough for 4 days, but we've been here for 5. And I would have bought food at the store, execpt our third party was supposed to be ready when we got back*, so we could go eat, but she wasn't, so....

So then we (finally) all went to the market to eat. And then we went to the Maasai market to shop (which I have to go back to before I leave because everyone and there mother wants me to bring them bangles home… which I’m complaining about like I mind, but I don’t.)

Bracelets from the market. Everyone wants some. I'm happy to share.

And then we left the market and went to the Tribe hotel for a sundowner, ie, drinks at a location that has a great view of the setting sun. I drank virgin juice because, you know, I drank half a bottle of wine for “brunch” while I waited (and waited) for the third party of our crew to get ready to go to the mall. I’m 35, I think about the state of my liver, and I fear hangovers.

View from the roof or The Tribe hotel :-)

And then… and now we get to the real issue.

So remember the guy Cousin G and I met last night? The party promoter? Him. Well, him told us that Juniper Social was the move for Friday night. And we took him’s advice.

A sign at Juniper Social.

The spot is a mini-mansion run by an ex-pat who moved to Kenya to do serious work, but then quit her job to host parties in her backyard. Her house is huge, the grounds are too, and she just does these random parties on the weekends. It’s like Chef Roble’s “Everyday People”, but like not with a retractable roof, and to be fair, less people. The DJ here is sick, although I couldn't identify any of the songs. There was a groove going. The people were very fly.

Oh, and shout out to the South African chickie who tapped me on the shoulder and was like, “I knew it was you! Ok, I thought it was you, and then I went to your blog and saw you were in Nairobi and then I was like, 'it’s you!'” Sweet chick. She watched The Show That Shall Not Be Named in South Africa. Go figure.

So, the guy from last night, left a few things out about this party.

  1. how dope it is.
  2. how good the food is.
  3. the 100 shilling tequila shots.

If you follow me on IG, you already know this story.

Tequila at discount prices.

Juniper is an unoffical restaurant that turns into a "scene". At 8:30, they stop serving food and table service is no more. They’ve found an ingenious way to get people up from the table ad to the bar: 100 shilling shots.

At 8:30, a bell rings, and tequila shots go on sale… for the US equivalent of around .90 cents. They’re served with orange slices instead of the traditional lime. Salt is optional. I don't partake.

Oh, and there was a tub of beer.

Le tub of beer.

How many I had is none of your business. I’m on vacation and I’m not driving. And I’m sober enough to crank out 500+ words for this post and upload the pictures. (But cannot operate heavy machinery.)

And with that said, good night.


*the third party has requested that I note she was on meds.

48 Hours in Nairobi: 10 New Observations 

You can't go two steps in Nairobi without seeing an ad for Tuskers. (It's still not as bad as Digicel in Port-au- Prince).  1. So yesterday, I told you that the first song I head on the radio in Nairobi was Adina Howard’s “Freak Like Me”.  It stood out to me because the station didn’t appear to be oldies. The announcer was doing a call-out for women who had given birth at 12/13 and were now raising daughters who were pregnant at 12/13. The demo had to contain a lot of women 24-26 for that call out (and my driver was no more than 25, okay maybe 30. You never know with Black people). The station was also advertising an upcoming expose about homosexuality in Nairobi. Apparently, sex tourism and "down low” behavior are an issue, and homosexuality isn’t all that tolerated. It all sounded very Springer 90s. I say all that to say this: for a station with salacious topics and a mid-20s demo, I expected to hear hip-hop or R&B, or whoever the local music artists are, not a song that was popular when I was, literally, 19. After that came some unidentifiable Michael McDonald-esque music.

2. So yesterday, our driver, Amos, takes us from the cottage to the city. We were supposed to go to this tourist heavy all-meat restaurant, literally it’s named Carnivore. (I was along for the adventure. I’m a pesca.) Anyway. Traffic was abysmal, so Amos was like, “um, no.” So he says he’ll take us to the city to a nice place. Great.  (He's also not sold on us going to a tourist spot where the waiters dress up in zebra print.) He recommends an American coffee shop that serves burgers and shakes. I get it. We’re Americans, he thinks we want American ish. We don’t. We detour to an organic spot for local food instead. What’s playing from the speakers? Usher's “Confessions", and Kelly Rowland’s one-hit, the one about “make Mama proud." Oh, and that one Kerry Hilson song  that had Kanye on the intro. On repeat. We figure someone put together their "moving on" playlist and is smitten with a new boo. I tell you all this to say, in, now 48 hours, I’ve heard no hip-hop, which I am delightfully fine with. And the radio program directors of Nairobi have great taste in music.

3. When in doubt/ lost/ in need of A/C or wi-fi, find the nearest American hotel, talk loud so everyone hears your accent and assumes you’re staying there, and use what you need at your leisure.

4. They have a Coldstone Creamery in Nairobi. So far, I’ve seen one McDonald’s and one KFC, which please me greatly, but not for the reasons you imagine. I like going to visit another country and feeling like I’m in another country. Traveling to shop in a bunch of stores with marked up American goods that were made in China isn’t a vacation. Nairobi has some imports, but they mostly have their own ish. This makes me happy.

5. Every city has its classic cup caking spot. For BK it’s DUMBO or the BK waterfront. For DC, it used to be Hains Point, but it seems to have moved to National Harbor. In Philly, it’s the top of the “Rocky” steps. For Nairobi, it seems to be the rooftop of the International Conference Center. It’s appears to be the tallest building in Nairobi and there’s a 360 view of the city. There were multiple couples just hanging out, enjoying the breeze and the view. From what I can tell, PDA isn’t a big thing here, which I only noticed because I saw a woman holding a man’s arm and it stood out because I’ve rarely seen people touch. Is that the culture? The influence of Islam? I dunno. But even on the roof, the couples sat or stood close next to each other, but never touched.

6. So. We try to go to this restaurant, only to find out its actually closed on Tuesdays. Whatever. We hear live music, so we wander over to the crowd.  It’s a outdoor music spot, Seemas (not sure of spelling.) The first thing I notice is the abundance of men, and two girls in tight dresses grinding on each other. Hmm. This strikes me as  odd because of my previous observation. So, we sit and have a drink and a meal. One of my traveling companions orders a “Tusker” because they’re advertised in Kenya the way Heineken is advertised in the US. Cool. The bottles are ginormous. I sneak a sip. It tastes exactly like Corona. I notice a few tables full of women. Most are sitting, some standing and they’re  in really tight dresses and standing wide. The service was a little slow, but we only minded because we were in a rush. That’s not the point of this, this is: a woman my friends met in the airport while waiting for me, called out of the blue to ask where we were. Turns out, she works near by. So she comes to meet us. As she walks us out, she asks what we thought of the spot. It was cool for what it was. She comments on the number of prostitutes. The girls grinding?And standing really wide? Advertising services. They call them “night girls” in Nairobi. The woman says that there are tons of them in that area and she’s surprised more weren’t out that night. She adds that while technically illegal, police mostly turn their heads about it.  We mention this to the driver, Amos, in the car on the way home. He says otherwise: “run away or you will be arrested,” he cautions. He adds that he doesn’t drink Tuskers anymore. “I drink two and I black out.” Womp.

7. The Hustle— so we pass by the City Market, and go in. It’s beyond obvious that we’re not American. People who were just chilling in  their stalls, look alive, and start calling out to us, “My Sister…”, “My Brother…” Like every. single. vendor. They call “jambo”, “karibu” (welcome), invite us to look at their wares (“looking is free!”) They are super aggressive, and I say this as a New Yorker. In fact, I was so overwhelmed at being verbally accosted, that I turned around and left. As our small group was walking along the street, two different men came up to chat with the gent in our group. They wanted to know if we were going on safari, where we were from (more on that in a second), what our plans were for our visit, blah, blah, blah. And even when we gave the brush off, the guys continued to walk with us for blocks. like at least 6 blocks each.

8. We’re Jamaican. I don’t know what about any of us reads as Jamaican, but that's the assumption. One of the girls in the group has braids, but so do half the women of Nairobi. The guy has a beard. I have my hair in a high bun. I know Jamaican. Nothing about us looks so. But constantly we’re asked, “You all are Jamaican?” I’m missing some backstory/cultural link, I think.

9. Musky Men: let me say this blunty: the vast majority of the men I have encountered in Kenya are scentless. As a whole Kenyan men smell exactly like American men. I am not in anyway implying that the men of Kenya smell bad. I am, however, saying that in the 48 hours I have been in Nairobi, I have encountered more men with with a strong underarm scent than I have encountered in other places I have travelled to. And I don’t mean homeless men or poor men. I mean men that are working jobs and funk up the whole phone store when they walk in on what appears to be their lunch hour. I mean the guy who checked my ticket to get to the roof where the couples were cup caking. I mean, just a random collar-shirted guy you pass in the street and think, “Good Lord, man!”

10. The Sixties— Nairobi is a modern city. It’s a tech hub for Hova’s sake. Everyone’s got a cell phone, there are electronic stores every five feet you walk downtown. And you can’t go in any crowded place without passing through a metal detector and getting swiped down like you’re going though airport security. At the really important places, your bag goes through a Xray machine. But the infrastructure, especially the buildings,  is very 70s. It’s like the government built everything they needed, did a good job the first round, and decided they were done. That’s not a bad thing. It does however make you feel like you’re in a time warp as you walk around the city. That said it’s a relatively clean city (sorta), especially given the number of people walking around. I walked around in flip flops, which when I do that in NYC, the bottom of my feet are black. Not even grey here, even though I walked and walked and walked today. I did see a couple open sewage streams, and the alleys weren’t the cleanest, but where, I ask, are alleys clean?

BONUS:  I’m… intrigued by the security here. In addition to noticing the metal detectors everywhere today, I also noticed that the cops walk around holding vintage AK47s... like baseball bats, if you’re just walking along at your leisure with one. So again, I’m wondering, is Nairobi that bad and America is better off in this regard? Or is it about the same and Americans are naive? I dunno. The guy and I were walking from a park back to the city centre earlier today, right? We’re talking about being bummed because we can’t do Lamu and Mombasa. There’s no plane that goes between the two cities anymore and the bus that travels is frequently robbed, or worse. Six months ago, some extremists hijacked a bus and killed all the infidels. So… yeah, no. We’re not taking the bus. My mother and husband would never forgive me. The alternative is to fly to Mombassa, fly back to Nairobi, then fly to Lamu, which again, no.  So we chose Lamu. We’re talking about this as we walk, and suddenly there’s a BOOM! We freeze immediately. And the “let out”, hundreds of people everywhere, do too. Cops go running in the direction of the sound. The guy and I stay frozen until everyone else starts moving. I can tell from the reaction that this city is shell-shocked just like NYC, post 9/11. (Literally, my VERY first observation walking out of the Nairobi airport was “hmm.. smells like post 9/11.”)  Maybe all the security is the government’s way of providing peace of mind. Maybe they actually need that ish.

BONUS 2: Before our guy of the group began going along with the Jamaican thing, he tells this one guy, a market vendor that he's American. The guy responds, "America? We call it Obama Land". LMAO.

10 Random Observations I Made in Nairobi (in the first 24 hours) 

DCIM100GOPRO Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset I’ll tell my random how I got here  (as in Nairobi) story another day. It involves a mother being unimpressed by flamingos and over-concerned (I think) about terrorism, me missing a connecting flight in London (thus delaying my arrival by 9 hours) and being temporarily separated from my travel buddies (while chill-laxing at the Hilton Nairobi, which was a great hotel…. 40 years ago). It’s a ‘lemons into lemonade’ tale, that CBW pointed out is comprised of first world problems in a third world country. I, however, think it's worth telling.

Anyway. My top 10 observations about Nairobi within the first 24 hours. These observations are subject to change, be debunked, or be the gospel truth, depending on what happens over the next 16 days. I apologize in advance for any offended Kenyans. Whenever a newbie writes about a city—a home city to many someones—there’s no way not to offend unless the reviews are glowing. This isn’t that.

So without further delay:

1. The traffic here, at least in rush hour, is sh—. I read that in multiple places and in this travel group I’m in where several people recently visited Nairobi. I thought they were exaggerating. Nothing could be worse than Atlanta or LA at rush hour. Nairobi is worse than both combined. It took an hour-plus, to get from the airport to the city, a distance that should have taken about 15 minutes, tops. To credit, the driver said traffic is better in the city, but still unpredictable. He suggested I give myself a few extra HOURS to get to the airport from the city when I leave in two weeks.

2. There are people walking everywhere— at least in the city. Like everywhere. It’s not like Times Square walking where everyone sticks to sidewalks. It’s people EVERYWHERE. I’m not explaining this properly. Ok. You know how people pour onto the sidewalk and into the street when there's a let out from the club? The let out. That's what the city centre of Nairobi is like, all dang day. It's super busy. You need a break just from walking around.

3.  I don’t see white people— at least not in the part of downtown I was in. Why does this matter? So… when I was in college at a PWI, I used to play this game I made up where at any given moment, I would stop and give myself 5 seconds to spot another Black person on campus. I lost a surprising amount of the time even though Black students made up 10 percent of the campus population at the time. I tell you this to say, I played, “spot a white person” after I left the airport. Until I went to dinner by the UN, I spotted three. If you wonder why this is so fascinating? Because I’m American and white people are the majority everywhere you look, and the parts of Brooklyn I most frequent are hella gentrified now. So just generally walking around and there are no white people is… different. Not good, not bad, just different.

4. I haven’t heard hip-hop yet. Like NOTHING. Maybe the cab drivers I’ve had don’t like rap. Who knows?  The first song played when I got in the cab from the airport? Adina Howard’s “Freak Like Me.” I’ve heard Nairobi is a party city. Google “what to do in Nairobi” then click “Images.” LOL.

5. You know how people are always saying Americans are slobs? It’s because in a lot of other countries, especially predominately Black countries, men put on a collared shirt and pants to go out, even if it’s to do dirty business. Just walking around in a t-shirt and shorts or sweats is unheard of. I was riding thru the city people-watching. I didn’t see one person in a t-shirt. ). A surprising number of men had on dark blue suits. It seems  dark blue suits are “a thing”. And the women had heels, and often, stockings. Didn’t see one mini-skirt. (And it’s 80+ degrees).

6. I'm staying with friends at a cottage on an "estate". There is a rooster on the grounds. Somehow I was unaware that roosters "go off" for like an hour each morning BEFORE actual sunrise. I thought it was one and done big moment and that’s the song for the day. Yeah, no. So I’ve been up since 6:32 AM my time.

7. About the cottage. It is small and clean, and beyond suitable size for 3 people. It has just the basics. Enough comfort to be comfortable, nothing that would be considered fancy or excessive, at least by US standards. I'm struck already by how much I can do with "simple" and "less" here, and better, how unnecessary “more” is. I've been thinking a lot about necessities and space post- marriage as CBW and I  now live in what was formally "my" one bedroom apartment. It was big for one, seems small for two. (And moving doesn't make sense at this point). But actually, there's quite enough space and too much stuff. I gave away half my closet before I got married. I'm inclined to give away half of what's left too. I would rather have the space than the stuff.

8. One of my travel mates read that Nairobi has amazing Thai food for some reason.  Whatever she read didn't lie. I had the best Thai food ever in life for like $5 last night. It was a green fish curry and at least 4 servings. I ate two. Either "take home" isn't a thing here or the guy didn't understand me, so that's that.

9. Kenyans speak English fluently. My ears haven't adjusted to the dialect yet. So I'm all, "sorry?", "huh?", "sorry?" like I’m basic. We have a driver who's been teaching us well, basic words in Swahili: "Jambo" (which oddly enough, I know from watching "Mean Girls"). "Asante" (thank you). That's all I learned so far. It's been a day. American cultural currency, even for Black people, is an underrated American privilege.  American films/ TV have been exported worldwide. Our dialect is not foreign to the ear.

10. Um. It's  85 during the day and cold at night. I slept in a sweatshirt. You know how Black Americans will say, "it's Africa hot!". Yeah, we gotta be more specific. Maybe West Africa hot? I dunno. I haven’t made it to West Africa yet. I’ve not been able to make two offers to go to Nigeria, and had to decline another for reasons I will probably explain in “A Bride in Brooklyn” (the sequel to ABIB.) Anyway, the point remains, everywhere in Africa isn't hot all the time.

BONUS: I'm trying to judge the extent of the terrorism issue here. So I ride up to the Hilton yesterday. The car is stopped and surrounded by armed security, and the driver must pop the hood and the trunk for double inspection. Same happens when the second driver comes to pick me up and take me to my friends at the cottage. So, terrorism is an issue everywhere, as I tried to explain to my very anxious mother. Yes, there was a mall attack in Nairobi, but there were recent threats to the Mall of America too. September 11, Boston Marathon. And America is supposed to be "safe." So I guess what I'm trying to figure out is Kenya hyper-sensitive/smart in taking the precaution to search cars, or is America being naive? Or is it that Kenya has greater threats? Hmmm.

That's it for now.  Today is my first "city day" with the group, so hopefully, I'll have plenty of observations to make tomorrow.


A Belle in Panama: Isla Taboga

Isla Taboga, Panama  

I got up early this AM (Friday) and took a ferry to Isla Taboga. I left too early to grab free breakfast at the hotel, so I found a hotel on the island that was still serving it. The plan was to head to the beach after and do nothing. Yes, I have to plan to go blank. And I ordered a veggie omelette

While I was waiting with my coffee and for my food, a sneak storm comes. I look up from my book when I hear a bang of thunder, and all the sudden the sky is dark, the water is choppy, and the wind is whipping everything around. The manager is running from door-window to door-window closing everything and just when he finishes, the sky opens up. It's rainy season.

So I sit and eat my breakfast and watch the show Mother Nature puts on. And then I go back to reading my book until the storm passes. 3.5 hours later, the sky has stopped leaking and I have finished "Who Asked You?", which was a GREAT read.

I sling on my backpack and go exploring in the direction of the beach. It looks like something out of "The Beach". Remember that movie where young Leonardo DiCaprio goes HAM? Exactly like that. It's beautiful and I have one of those I-Can't-Believe-This- Is-Life moments. I take a bunch of pics, then abruptly stop. I took a helicopter to the middle of the Grand Canyon once and the pilot, a woman, told us about this guy who’s “a regular”, who comes to the Canyon and never takes pics. He spends the visit taking the view all in, and when he forgets what it looks like with clarity, he comes back. I want to be like that guy. I want to enjoy the moment and I want to come back here (again and again) and bring friends so they can experience all this awesome.

I put my phone away and I walk to the water. It's bath water warm. And I just stand there looking and watching folks swim and leaves blow and what looks like a film being well, filmed and these guys digging holes big enough to be graves in the sand and then I just stare at the pretty houses in the hills.

I don't know how long I stand there. But when I've had my fill, I go find a restaurant with $3 red wine, and I sit at the table and read "Lucky" with Solange on the cover talking about how she stopped wearing prints and likes solids and color-blocking now and I realize this wardrobe change is the entire hook of the story. "Elevator-gate" doesn't even come up. Womp.

I fall asleep for part of the boat ride back to the mainland. And I hail a taxi and negotiate the rate with the driver. He offered $10, I haggled him down to $5. I should have paid no more than $4, but... My Spanish is getting better, I see.

When I get Wi-Fi again, there's a text from Alex. In summary, we're renting a car tomorrow to go see both Black Jesuses in Portobelo and Isle Grande.

I'd tell you more, but now I have to go find said rental car place and extend my stay at the hotel/find another room. My goal is to stay here at hotel Tantalo. I came back from my trip today to find a note and a sparkling VIP band on my bed. There's a "battle of the pianos" in the lobby tonight, the letter reads. They, hotel management, hopes I will come down to join the festivities. As an added incentive, all drinks are on the house if I wear the band.


Other thoughts:

I'm amazed how long  the battery in my phone lasts when I'm not on text, Twitter, Facebook + AskFM. Like I can go a whole entire day without re-charging. I'm usually dead after 3 hours. I'm notorious for asking anyone (including strangers), "do you have a charger?"

I've spent the last three days listening solely to alternately The Best if Dionne Warwick and The Best if Luther. They actually make the same songs to different music. No, really. Warwick recorded "House is Not A Home" before Luther. She was actually a huge influence on him as a musician. (With all my downtime doing nothing, I looked it up.)

Single dollar bills (and to a lesser fives are more precious than gold. Panama is big on exact change. Twenties, also the most common denomination dispensed by ATMs here, are the devil. People are like that's A meal can be $13. You whip out $20 and folks are like, "Oooh! Nooo." I got a drink the other day for $6, whipped out a $10. The barista was like "ooh. Mmmmm." (She finally broke it.) I gave a cab driver a $5 for a $4 ride. He looks at me like O_o. I wasn't getting out to get change, so I just gave him the $5. Hmmm. Maybe he knew that was going to happen. Anyway, I don’t understand how I’m supposed to get change if no one ever has any. Conundrum.