CHAPTER 1 : Goodbye Amigos
November 1st 1995… This was the date when I first entered the mysterious continent.. Africa. I was working for Dato Amin Shah then.. under a company named Business Focus SB. My first post was in Peru.. After a few months handling Dato Amin’s hotels there.. namely Macchu Picchu Ruinas, Hotel La Isla Estevez etc.. as a Business Development Manager, I received a fax from the HQ, ordering me to be transfered to The Republic of Guinea Africa immediately.. I was really stunned.. what was meant by immediately.. So I called them.. and they said “We have a new Hotel named The Grand Unity Hotel in Conakry Guinea. You are required to manage this hotel.. as you can speak French!” “Please move immediately!” I had no choice but to get packed and move to a new direction.. I took a flight to Buenos Airies the next day.. hoping to find a Malaysian Airline office so that I could re-direct my flight ticket to Johannesburg instead of a direct flight to Kuala Lumpur as written on my ticket. I had been warned that Buenos Airies is a very expensive city. I looked into my wallet and said to myself.. “I must get to Johannesburg within 3 days.. or else..” When I reached there, I started to look for the Malaysian Airline office.. I was on my foot coz the taxi was just too expensive that I couldn’t afford… but it didn’t exist then.. I found Singapore Airline who didn’t want to hear my problem. I needed to re-direct my ticket. I needed to change my direct flight from Buenos Airies to Kuala Lumpur to Johannesburg instead. That’s it!! I must do something about this!
I made up my mind and decided that I’ll bloody do it! I went to another airline.. but I won’t tell you which one.. because what I did was wrong! I could be in jail for that! I put on my blazer nicely with my tie on.. I walked into this airline office and said “I am the ambassador! Please change my flight ticket to Johannesburg.. I urgently need to be there!” And the lady said “Momentito porfavor” She came out from the office after a few minutes and said “No hay problema.. es possible!” Gosh… huhhhh.. I didin’t know what to say.. All I remembered was that.. my legs were shaky.. thinking.. what if they found out that I was lying..? After they had made the changes, they even told me that I could use the portion that I had cancelled ie from Johanesburg to Kuala Lumpur for a re-imbursement later at the Malaysian Airline Office in KL. This was my last words to them..”Muchas Gracias Muchas Gracias Muchas Gracias!”
The first nightmare was over.. As I was going through the checkpoint at Buenos Airies airport.. I had the strangest feeling.. every single person working there was looking at me.. with that kind of look! I looked around me.. and looked again.. and looked again.. then I noticed that I was the only coloured person there.. All the whites went through the custom’s checkpoint without being asked what was in their luggage.. When it came to my turn… so sad.. every single piece of document was opened.. and checked.. I really felt so small and deeply hurt with the treatment that I had there.. plus everybody else was looking at me.. I hate to say this but I felt that.. they didn’t like much someone from asia! So, I said to this guy’s face who possibly tried to get some under table money from me.. and I said it in English “If I had the choice, I don’t even want to be here.. my country is beautiful..peaceful.. with beautiful people.. If you want to grab some money from me.. go to hell with you!!” I packed all the things that were taken out from my luggage and went off.. the hassles made me almost missed the flight..
The flight that I took didn’t go straight to Johannesburg.. it went to Rio de Jenairo first. I thought.. Oh well.. at least I had a chance to see Rio. I felt relief as I walked into the aircraft and promised myself that I won’t ever land my foot in Argentina ever again! The aircraft sudenly made this funny kind of noise.. it sounded like ‘clag clag clag clag clag..’ I noticed that we could even see buildings around us.. and yet we still had another 1 hour or so before we reached Rio. I was thinking.. “Are we going to crash..?” After about 40 minutes.. I heard a loud sound like an exhaust fan of a kitchen being turned on.. Then I knew that the engineer had fixed the problem.. We reached Rio safely.. Upon landing.. everyone in the aircraft clapped their hand.. perhaps they all were thinking the same like what I was thinking.. I just wanna share this with you.. The aircraft that I took, crashed a week after that killing everyone on board.. Ok.. I’ll tell you the name of the aircraft.. It’s Varig Airline!! Goodbye South America.. I’m on my way to Africa now..
To be continued.. DjRay