Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thanks Everyone


First, I want to thank all of my followers for listening to my rambles. Like, I have said, I started this blog because my friends were so interested in my stories about being abroad (really only the men). I wanted to encourage other women, primarily black women, that you can go anywhere you want to go and date anyone. This has already been a great outlet for me and I really enjoy hearing your questions and comments.



Monday, January 24, 2011

Observations about Ireland

Ireland is a beautiful country. It is filled with gentle slopes, beautiful landscapes, and breathtaking fields. There is a reason why there are so many famous Irish poets.

That being said, Ireland is a country that is rapidly becoming a multicultural hub. With this, there are growing tensions about the number of immigrants in the country. This has led to outbreaks of racism, discrimination, and violence. Marie and I felt the tension while we were there. It dissipated some when they found out that we were Americans (and planning to leave soon). I'm not saying this to discourage anyone from going, but it's a good idea to be aware of who you are and where you are.

Irish men can be very direct. This can be refreshing on a first date, but it's a little jarring when you're walking home at two o'clock in the morning. I also saw a large number of the "sensitive artist types" in Ireland, which I love. There is a vibrant art and cultural scene in the major cities and sometimes even in the countryside.

Go forth and find your Ireland.

Irish Thorns

Ireland has always been a dream vacation for me. There's something about the beautiful landscapes that is striking. If you don't believe me, Google Ireland and be prepared to be sucked in. And, pictures are nowhere close to the real thing. So, when one of my close friends, Marie, told me that we could go for a fraction of the price I jumped at the opportunity. And, yes I have paid full price for trips (and I have the bank account to prove it).

So, we get to Ireland and I'm immediately disappointed. The weather is sticky and our hotel looks like a set in a horror movie. Our beds are lumpy, the light in our bathroom is flickering,and the couple in the room next to us is either having sex or getting murdered. But, we don't really care at this point and all we want to do is crash (notice a pattern?). The morning comes and we get up, determined to seize the day. We go out to breakfast and notice that outside of the café there is a trail of something that looks like blood. We asked our waitress what it was and she said, "Yes, it is blood, those bloody idiots were fighting last night after the pubs closed."

Marie had to go to work, so I decided to explore and took in the beautiful scenery of the countryside. When you get a little bit outside of the major cities in Ireland, there are beautiful views to be seen everywhere (without the smog, noise, and pollution of the cities). So, I'm sitting on top of a hill that looks something like the picture below and I hear crunching behind me, like someone is walking towards me. I turned around and there was a handsome man standing behind me. But, I immediately got an odd vibe from him. I looked at him and said, "Hello. How are you?" He looked at me for a very long time and said, "Fine." Then, he walked away, without looking back. My heart was beating so fast that I thought I was going to have a heart attack. To this day, I have no idea what would've happened if I had never turned around.

Alas, the trip wasn't a total washout romantically, at least for Marie. She met a charming Irishman in a dingy pub who was proud to declare he was "Black Irish", which was hilarious to us because anything is hilarious when you're tipsy. His name was Alex* and when he wasn't slumming it he worked as a history teacher. He showed us a more complete picture of Ireland, including the historical landmarks and ghetto. Alex and Marie kind of dated for four months, but the distance proved to be too much. I say kind of because they never really clarified what they were doing. When I date, I demand clarification.

Despite what happened, Ireland is still one of my favorite countries and I truly hope to go back one day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tips/Observations for Italy

Since my last post was about Italy, I thought that I would post some observations about Italy. Black people aren't that big of a deal in Italy. I think Marie and I got so much attention because we obviously were guests and we were in a place that didn't have that many African immigrants. And, we were women. It's true. Italian men are notorious for their love of women and it's no joke to them. But, don't expect every Italian man to serenade you outside of your balcony or put their coat in a puddle. You WILL be disappointed. They are like any other group of men, some good and some bad. Use your intuition and good sense.

I don't know if it was a regional thing, but I could NOT find a good breakfast outside of my hotel. I love my breakfasts, especially my big obnoxious American breakfasts. Yeah, didn't happen there. I was grateful for a piece of toast and two soggy pieces of bacon. That was my only food issue though.

If you have any specific questions, comment, and I will try to answer them.

With Angelo

One of the first trips I ever took outside of the country was with a group. Now, group traveling isn't for everyone, like me. When I travel, I want a lot of independence and freedom to do what I want. Group traveling seems to stress conformity and leads to little bunches of Americans crowding the streets in various foreign countries. But, this trip was going to be bearable because one of my best friends was going with me and because she worked for the agency we had gotten the tickets for half price. So, Mama wasn't complaining. Besides, we were going to Italy, the land of delicious pizza and delicious men.

How I made it through the airport and to the hotel is fuzzy. By the time I got there, I was so fatigued that all I could do was collapse on my bed and wait for daylight. It came far too quickly and Marie* and I went downstairs to order breakfast. By the time we got to the bottom of the stairs, we were in shock. Screw the buffet of food, there was a buffet of men! At a large table in the middle of the room, there was a large group of Italian men in designer suits. Most of them had tanned skin, dark eyes, shiny black hair, and well-defined muscles. To quote my grandmother, I felt like I was in hog heaven! Almost on cue, the men at the table swiveled their heads toward us and most smiled to reveal gleaming teeth.

There was one man in particular that caught my attention. He was seated at the back of the table and his eyes did things to me that my ex boyfriend couldn't do with his hands. He wasn't smiling, but had an interested look in his eyes. Marie and I paid for our breakfasts and before we had gotten our plates, my mysterious man had gotten up and was headed for our table. Marie was smirking and I looked up at him, expectantly. He looked at both of us and said, "Buongiorno. I am Angelo and I was wondering if I could sit down and speak." I was thinking, "Honey, you can do anything you want to." But, I said, "Of course." He sat down and started asking us generic questions about where we were from and what we were doing in Italy. He told us that he was in town for a business meeting, but he was originally from Sicily. Soon, the rest of his group started getting up and heading for the door and he looked at us and invited us to a club in town. We agreed to meet up with him that night. Now, I've never been much of a "club" person, but when in Rome…

We got to the club around 10 PM and there was a pretty light crowd there. Angelo was outside and lead us to a table in the back room where we were treated to champagne and a fruit plate. Marie was soon whisked away to slow dance while Angelo and I continued talking. "So, you like Italy?" he said. "Yes, I love it! We've only been here for a day but I have already had great food and great champagne." When I told him that we were only going to be in Italy for two weeks he sighed and said," That's too bad. Italy should be savored, like wine." He took my hand and started gently massaging the top of it and said, "In two weeks, there is only surface but surface is better than nothing, right?" I smiled and said, "Your surface is lovely." He laughed and led me to the dance floor. As I wrapped my arms around his neck I looked over at Marie and smirked. Her face had a blissful expression and she was gently swaying with one of Angelo's associates. Lesson learned: bring a camera everywhere.

Angelo and I danced for about two hours until we finally went back to the table and continued talking. I learned that his father was a poor farmer in Sicily who couldn't read or write. His father told Angelo that he had to get an education, no matter what it took. So, Angelo started working after school at 12 years old and started saving money for college. He excelled in school and was able to get a few private scholarships which helped fund his education. I told him about my life in the United States and he laughed at my descriptions and said that he had been to the US but had no desire to go back. I told him that I knew that I was definitely coming back to Italy and he gave me his card, smiled, and said, "I hope so." By the time there was a break in the conversation, I looked at the clock and realized it was three in the morning. Since Marie and I had to get up at seven, I decided to leave and I told Angelo that I had a great time and I hoped to see him again. he kissed me on my cheek and whispered, " "You will."

Marie decided to leave too so we walked out of the club (well I walked and she stumbled) and got into a taxi to go back to the hotel. On the way home, we exchanged stories about our night and agreed that coming to Italy was a very good idea.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Growing Up...

I grew up in the deep South. Now, if you are from the deep South I am sure you are smiling at your screen certain of what I'm going to say next. And, you're right. While I saw a few interracial relationships growing up, they were almost always of the black male/white female variety and even those were few and far between. It's not even that you heard people speaking ill of interracial relationships. It just wasn't done.

Thank goodness for travel. And, for having a mother who knew the value of it. My mother loved to travel and often dragged me along, regardless of my feelings. It wasn't until I became an adult that I realized the gift she had given me. She showed me that there was a world outside of our city and for that I am forever grateful. Although we only traveled inside of the country, I saw that there were places where interracial couples lived peacefully, without ridicule or scorn. That made me even more curious about the world outside of my own country. The travel bug was planted at an early age and subsequently was allowed to grow.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011



My name is the Swirler. But, you can call me Love. No, that is not my real name, of course, but a girl can't put all her business out in the streets, you know? I am an African-American woman in her early 20's. I have been lucky enough to land a corporate gig that takes me to faraway locales (sometimes). I realized early on that black women were often considered exotic, mysterious, sensual, and overall wonderful creatures around the world. These are my tales of swirling around the world.