Young, Black, and Abroad part3
I am feeling good! One of my colleagues from the university to pick me up and we head out to the city I will be living in which is two hours from where the airport is.
We are talking, the energy is amazing. I hadn’t been to Ecuador is 2 years, so it was great to connect with the culture again. The landscapes are gorgeous. I’m from Miami so I am not used to seeing these mountains, clouds lying along a skyline. I mean really, it looks like something the guy with the huge afro on PBS would paint. Literally something off of a post card! I am in awe for most of my trip. I knew people who had never left Florida, never left the South, and here I was this poor, random, black girl from Opa Locka living in South America. I was in awe of myself. Finally, we get to the city that I will live in and had lunch at this over priced restaurant the food sucked, but it was on the university’s dime so I didn’t really care. The driver and my future colleague leave me at a reasonably priced hostel in the center of town. And I know you must be thinking (did this bitch see the movie). And I did. But hostels are not like that here, you don’t share a room with anyone. It’s just hella cheap. I paid $15 for the first night and $12 for the rest of the week since I was doing so many nights. It was cool across the street from the mall. I sent a message to essential people and chilled. I was here. Ready and waiting for the culture shock, adventure, empanadas…something!
I wanted to go and walk around, visit, explore, do more! But this wasn’t my hood I didn’t speak that language, and I was still black. It’s funny how living in America had made me so aware of my blackness. This was literally in my mind, even the last time I was in Ecuador, even though I had never experienced racism, so I didn’t know why I was bugging. I contemplated this fear I had developed in a country that loved everything about blackness, but the people. Being in a different country, and not knowing how your blackness will be perceived makes you more aware, it heightens the senses. It makes you think about the place you call home in such a wonderfully skeptical way. Waking up the next morning we had to go to the university do contract signing and lots of other red tape things. One of those was making sure that all the professors had everything they needed in order to get the visa. Remember in the last blog when I said there was alot of paper work and it cost a ton of money. You need all of your everything of your entire life and you need it translated and apostilled. Degrees, Transcripts, Certificates, Background Checks, Lunch Number from the 3rd grade. Getting them, not the issue, getting it translated, still not an issue but very very expensive, getting it apostilled a pain in your ass. First of all, I didn’t even know what an apostille was, I thought it was the apostles from the Bible. In order to get an apostille (which basically makes your document recognized internationally), you need to get it notarized (which makes it recognized nationally, but they don’t tell you that). You can see where all this is going right…
You have to bring in all these documents, with fancy seals and stuff to get this visa. If you don’t have a visa you can’t work. Being an American never really living anywhere else, its something most of us will never think of. So as we are doing all this they ask me for a something that was not on my to do list. An enrollment verification letter (basically says you were enrolled, when you say you were). Without that they will need the number to the registrar to call and confirm enrollment dates. I burst out into hysterical laughter. Because I went to an HBCU… I’m like if you think you are gonna call, and reach someone…. who is willing to help you…over the phone… be my guest…if you can get that I will be very impressed.
Anyways this was an exhausting day, putting together the puzzle pieces together, figuring out which ones were missing. At the end of the day we had another meeting, I walked in late, I think I was looking for the bathroom or something. One of my colleagues says “Did y’all tell Sunni?”. So naturally I’m like tell me what? My boss says unfortunately, we had to cut the housing stipend significantly. What number is significantly? He says “Why don’t you take a seat so I can explain.”
So in my mind I’m like: