Places – I have been to lots and lots of places on the planet. I’ve enjoyed all of them. Well, maybe not Nigeria, but just about every other place. And even in Nigeria I learned stuff and met people I enjoyed. Read about people in Africa below.

Giselle then and on my right at recent IABC Trinidad gathering

On a recent trip to Trinidad it was my good fortune to meet a number of dynamic and thoroughly enjoyable woman who belonged to The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). Each were talented and smart and we had a lovely lunch talking about everything from iPhones to global warming to how much harder it is to potty train boys. It’s nice to know that no matter where on the planet you are, women are dealing with the same issues!

Among the group of Trinis was a soft spoken woman named Giselle Laronde-West. Giselle is married, raising 2 boys. She is the Corporate Communications Manager with Angostura Ltd. (the company that make those bottles of bitters). She was also Miss World 1986. She was the first and only woman from Trinidad and Tobago to win the title. She used the prize money to attend college in London where she earned a degree in Communications. Besides the unique experience of being Miss World and traveling around same, she is in the Caribbean Hall of Fame and has a commercial airplane named after her. Now that’s cool.

I have Confidence in Africa
May 4, 2005

We were feeling pretty ragged when we landed in Nigeria. The 21 hour commute from Baghdad was exhausting. We had expected the company Meet&Greet people to kid-glove us through the legendarily horrible Nigerian customs and immigration, but no such luck. We alternately cajoled and muscled our way through a gauntlet of bribe seeking ‘officials’ whose eyes lit up when they saw the tantalizing contents of our camera bag.

Posing with Confidence

“What do you have for me?” is the phrase you hear over and over again. Everybody here understands that phase is a request for dash – the Nigerian word for bribe. Corruption is a way of life here. Nothing happens without dash. There is crushing poverty everywhere you look. Yet someone here is making zillions off the oil & gas resources. It just isn’t getting through to the general population. There is no trickle down in Nigeria. And for that reason and others, crime in the form of theft is to be expected.

But we don’t worry because we have confidence on our side. In fact, we have confidence anytime we want, at our beck and call anytime of the day or night. Confidence is the name of our Nigerian driver. So far, he has lived up to his name.

What's in a Name?
I love the uninhibited creativity and individuality of African names. One of the children we photographed at a local clinic today was named Precious. Isn’t that just perfect? We know Genesis well, had lunch with him yesterday, but we try to avoid his brother, Temptation. On our last trip to Africa our driver was Mr. God Love. When we were told to “Go with God”, our Catholic upbringing unexpectedly popped out and Chris and I responded in unison, “And also with you”. We depended on God to get us where we wanted to go. And it was comforting to have God as our co-pilot.

The names may sound strange to us, but it makes a heck of a lot more sense than having every other person answer to John or Jessica. Each of us is a unique individual, and our names should reflect that. It would save a great deal of confusion, don’t you think? Personally, I’m uncomfortable around someone else with my name. It somehow makes me feel diminished. So I’m adopting the African custom and changing my name to something unique and appropriate to me alone. But what?

People remember me by my premature white hair, so maybe my name should be something like Snowtop. But no, the rest of my body has finally caught up with my hair and it is no longer the unique feature it was back in my teens and early 20s. I’d prefer a name that connotes action or a personality trait or maybe my lifestyle. Intrepid? Endeavor? No, people would confuse me with space shuttles or battleships.

Hmm, something to do with travel seems appropriate. How about Jet 3000? Number names are all the rage right now. But maybe that’s too faddish. What about Worldwoman? Or you can call me Earth. Hi, I’m Earth, pleased to meet you. But on second thought, no again. Earth can also mean dirt which doesn’t feel right and it just isn’t poetic enough for my taste.

Wait, I’ve got it! Farflung. That’s it! My new name is Farflung. Farflung Salvo. It almost has an Asian ring to it, don’t you think? And it makes a semi-complete sentence when combined with my last name which is kinda nifty. Hi, I’m Farflung. Cool.

Chris wants to be known as Humongous D.
Pa-leese. I won’t even comment on that one.

--Farflung Salvo