Tuesday, December 09, 2008


From today's New York Times:

As a clerk at the Dominican Republic Consulate in New York, Francisco
Estevez enjoyed a number of diplomatic perks, including something any frequent
flier would covet: an exclusive visa that amounted to an airport E-ZPass.

Mr. Estevez would travel to the Dominican Republic and interview potential
customers face to face to make sure they resembled one of his family members,
according to the authorities. Once he determined there was a match, they said,
Mr. Estevez would give that person a family member’s passport and an A-2 visa
and fly with them to the United States. He sometimes took as many as seven
people who would pose as family members.

Not good when diplomatic immunity is taken away, is it?

Thursday, December 04, 2008


I was catching up on a blog I enjoy reading and came across this post about kuduro. Kuduro is music from the musseques (slums) of Luanda. (I've written about it before.) According to the post, kuduro is taking over Europe! Of course, not kuduro as Angolans listen to it, but "improved" upon by European DJs. Follow the link and decide for yourself if you like it.

This got me nostalgic for kuduro (which means "hard ass" in Kimbundu). So here is a kuduro song that was HUGE in the months before I left. It basically is a conversation between a father and a son. The father is hassling his son, who is a real bandido- doesn't study, gets a girl pregnant, etc. I like it because there's a lot of Angolan Portuguese phrases and sounds in it. And like any good kuduro video, it's filmed in a musseque with the people who live there and little kids dancing all crazy.

And here's one of my all-time favorite, O Comboio by kurudo powerhouse Os Lamba. (Comboio = train)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Conversations I Have Had: Jamaica Edition

Riverton Community Center, Kingston, Jamaica

I rely heavily upon the map of Kingston while I am here. After a few days I get used to the place, only to forget it all again once I leave. Therefore I was disappointed to find it had gone "missing" from the car. So I set out to find a new one at the bookstore.

Me: Excuse me, do you have street maps?

Bookstore employee: Street maps?

Me: Yes, of Kingston.

...Blank look...

Me: Maps with the names of streets. So I don't get lost.

Employee: No, we don't have any street maps.

Me: Oh.

Employee: We only have road maps.

I went to visit our partner in Seaview Gardens, a rough and tumble neighborhood of Kingston. I had never really been out to visit the community before, so two of the formidable community liasons, Miss Effie and Carolyn, took me around. We stopped in at the local police station.

Me: Do you have enough police to handle to problems of the community?

Sargent: No man, we need more.

Miss Effie: They need a lot of things here. They need a new car, a new fence...

Sargent: Yeah man, we need a new kitchen.

Miss Effie: They really need a new bar.

Me: A bar? I'm sorry. What's a bar? [Thinking, this can't really be a bar, like, for drinking.]

Sargent: A bar, man, for drinking. [Pointing to 2/3 bottle of Appleton Rum on his bookshelf.]

Miss Effie: Yeah, for when they don't have anything to do.

Sargent: Yeah, we really need one.