The layers of sweat beaded off layers of sweat as they rolled down my back, forming a pocket at the base of my spine.
It was hot. How hot? Africa hot. I say this not because I’ve been to Africa- Even though I’ve visited Morocco a few times, but that is like an African saying he’s been to the US, just because he’s set foot in Hawaii, or Alaska.- but because I was passing 3 tall Africans, dressed in robes that may help with this heat?, who were quietly standing by their table on Spring St. Small flutes, beaded necklaces, a few wooden pipes and a range of pocket items, from coins to small dogs made out of reed, we neatly arranged on their black velvet cloth.
Watching them sweat under their umbrella, put me in mind of that old statement – Africa Hot. It’s one of those dumb statements that people who don’t travel use to lump countries or even continents into single groupings. But of course there were parts of Africa are hot, real hot. I know this from my decades old subscription of National Geographic that piles up in my life. I remember reading about Michael Fey and his trek across equatorial Africa on foot. The heat and insects and insanity and wonderfulness of that have never left my mind. That pile is full of adventures waiting to be had …
These thoughts swam around the ether or my misting mind as I culled the table; I was now handling currencies I’d never heard of- Cedi & Kwacha, Ekpwele & Ouguiya- and I watched my sweat drip off the end of my nose splashing on the bright metal of those coins.
This is the beauty of New York; here on a sweltering summers day, with the head smashing down, I could trade my green cash for these foreign dreams. I imagined myself sweating in Malawi or Mauritania. Passing these coins to a fruit seller as I watched an alternate stream of humanity pass beside me.
I swapped tender with the tall dark robed quiet man, and slid away. Fingering the coin in my pocket, my bod burning in New York, while my mind burned in Bamako.
— © 2009 New York