Asa Baako music festival — Busua, Ghana

Dreams of Africa, East and West

Jumping back to winter 2014 for a moment…

Jordan and I are wandering around the Mission in San Francisco late one night after an evening of carousing with my Israeli friend Dan. We hop in a cab, the cab takes us to Dan’s hostel near the Financial District, and Dan comically overpays with a mis-handled $50 bill.

Jordan and I call a Lyft to take us home (BART had long-since shut down for the night), but the app mis-locates us 3 blocks away. Jordan’s phone then dies. So, takeout burritos in hand, we sprint down the street in hopes of catching our ride (a level of hi-jinks to be repeated many times in the coming year).

Arriving at a corner, breathless, a car with a pink mustache arrives. Driving is Figo, our savior for the evening. We start jetting across the Bay Bridge.

A chariot for drunks boys at 2 AM

We’re good entertainment, J and I, so I feel comfortable asking Figo where he’s from, because I’m That Guy. Turns out Figo is from Ethiopia! I start waxing (drunkenly) about my love for Ethiopian food and jazz, a level of familiarity with his culture that Figo graciously (and patiently) appreciates. By the end of the ride, Figo has invited us for lunch at his favorite Ethiopian restaurant, and J and I had made a new friend.

Stories like this one are some of my favorites, because they crystallize so perfectly the tech-enabled, serendipitous interactions that define living in the Bay Area right now. Increasingly, I suspect they’ll define the social (and economic, and political) lives of my children and my children’s children on into the future. But for Jordan and I, meeting Figo was an even greater blessing than just a ride home.

Today, only 3 days before we’re set to leave, I met up with Figo at a Philz Coffee in Oakland. It had been a year since we met him for that lunch he invited us to, and we had a lot to catch up on. Figo had just returned from his own trip back to Ethiopia and regaled me with stories of his time in his home town and his first journey to Ethiopia’s south (“a totally different country”). He also gave me some much-needed advice about what to do and what to see in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, and beyond.

The skyline

Luckily, his cousin still lives in Addis! Figo will be getting us in contact with him to see if he’s willing to meet two bumbling Americans. Figo also suggested a place to stay, a few places to listen to live music, and gave me the lowdown on some of Addis’ neighborhoods.

J, meanwhile, was tipped off to seemingly-amazing annual music and culture festival in Ghana called Asa Baako, or One Dance.

From one end of Africa to the other, it seems we have our trip cut out for us. Now Jordan just has to get his stupid yellow fever shot…



Listening to: “Real” by Wild Moccasins

Reading: “Tokyo” by *will update once I get home*

Just finishing reading: Vagabonding” by Rolf Potts

Watching: The X-Files, Season 4 (with the beautiful Emily)

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