From the village to Madrid

Isdore Guvamombe in Madrid, Spainisdore-2

In the village, in the land of milk honey and dust or Guruve, one who plants grapes by the road side, and one who marries a pretty woman, share the same problem – every passerby wants to taste.

But the careless ones do not care!

In the other world, in the land of football there are many fruit trees planted on the roadside for everyone to pick – call it human rights.

Journalism is that profession that, takes you to ringside seat of events and unbeknown to you, you are already in the deep-end of things. There, you mix with the “who is who” of this world and there, you face the dilemma on whether to discard village mentality, village values, humanism and ethos or not. There you find yourself acting and living inter-changeably. You mingled with everyone, from village idiots to Presidents, each demanding tact handle.

The biggest question is when do you live your life and when do you act? This villager, who grew up herding cattle in the famous land of the korekore people, the land controlled by spirit mediums Karitundundu, Nyamapfeni, Chingowo, Svembere, Gumboremvura, Chirambakudomwa, Nyatsimba Mutota, Chidyamawuyu, Dumburechuma and many others, found himself yonder in Madrid, Spain, in the land of the white man.

Growing up chasing after locusts (hwiza/mhasu) for relish, picking up black tree beetles (mandere) for relish, picking up tree worms (madora) for relish and digging for mice (mbeva) was childhood expertise. It is never regrettable. This villager writes, knowing fully well that there are executives for big companies, conglomerates even – politicians and presidents, who went through the same experience, in the village. The village. Yes in the village!

Now grown up and a professional, this villager has been to China, India, Japan, Iran, Russia, Germany, United Arab Emirates, United States and cold United Kingdom, among other countries outside Africa but there is no place like Spain. Never a place like Madrid!  The 24-hour journey to Madrid, via Johannesburg and Dubai was incident free. Harare- Johannesburg, Johannesburg-Dubai and then Dubai- Madrid.

After flying past boggy marshes, picturesque mountains, silvery clouds and intermittent rains, the plane finally landed at Barajas International Airport in Madrid. Things started changing at the airport, we went into an underground train to Hotel Plaza de Castilla, where an advance Zimbabwean team awaited us. A spitting distance from the hotel stood the United Nations World Tourism Organisation headquarters, super-imposing itself.

Once a villager, always a villager! Do village elders not say, even the heaviest of all rains do not erase the leopard’s spots? In the underground train, we were kibitzing about other passengers, all of them white and I think they were doing the same about us. They spoke in Spanish and we did in Shona.

No pan entendre! The atmosphere was good. The train was fast. The stops were numerous and two voices – one male and one female, announced the stations – Barajas, Aerupuerto, Campo De las Naciones, Nuevos Ministerios and Plaza De Espana, etc. etc.etc.

The hotel we finally settled for was Hotel Senorial, perched along a narrow street near the Metro Station at Plaza de Espana.

A boy and girl hugged and kissed endlessly in public. Passengers coming out of the metro station, literally avoiding bumping into them. They were in a world of their own. When the boy thought he had kissed enough, the girl pulled him back and it was her time. The Zimbabwean team was shocked. Worse for this conservative villager! There was another couple by the steps.

Doing it again. More was to come! Two girls performed another duet in broad daylight. Lip to lip, their grip getting tight and tighter. Lesbians, lesbians . . . lesbians.

“Do these people not have homes?” asked one delegate. “Welcome to Spain,’’ replied one of our delegates, seemingly used to it. Then we went out of the station to Hotel Senorial. It was a very beautiful small hotel, clean and decent! After checking in this villager stood by the hotel door, trying some orientation and lo and behold! Gays! Outside the station, two men stood, zero-centimetres apart, cuddling and kissing. Kissing deep. Deep, deep and deeper! Deep! Other people criss-crossed and went on with their business as if nothing was happening. The two male lovers went on and on, their faces turning red. This villager cringed, held his breath and skedaddled on to my hotel.

NOT in the village! Never! This villager never wanted to get closer.

Do village elders not say it is only a stupid cow that rejoices at the prospect of being taken to a beautiful abattoir? In the village, the colours of a chameleon are for survival, not beauty! The villager took cover! At night, we decided to check on their nightlife. The clubs were plenty. Along the streets, stood vendors, dishing out papers on which club the best women are found. We learnt they are given commission for bringing in customers. My colleagues wanted to drink beer but you see this villager is no drinker.

We entered New Girls Club. There we sat around a pole, where the girls would dance. They called it pole dancing. A bottle of coke was 10 Euros, too expensive for the villager, used to mahewu and 50 cents coke in the village. Look at the contrast!  Within minutes the girls, hardly dressed came down the stairs, each picking one of us to talk to and possibly eke a deal. We had agreed as a group never to eke out deals with the sex workers. We huddled.  They did not need to be invited to sit with us. They came and if you did not object they sat on your lap, only in their bikinis. Like roadside fruits, anyone could touch them. They were exposed like lowly dangling fruits, whose bodies become scarred by children’s finger nails.

The disco lights sashayed! And, and, and then one girl came up straight to the pole. Danced with it. Up, up, up and up to the ceiling. She then stripped. She was in her birth suit but still up the pole. She whizzed down the pole and stopped half way. Turned, twisted, turned. Smiled. Twisted turned then whizzed down again. Down, down and down to the floor.

She looked at a pant somewhere on the floor. Picked it up saluted and slowly, tentatively and surely she walked off stage, her pant in her right hand. There was applause. Clap, clap. . . clap. Silence and sighs. We were told she was a sex worker hired from Romania. She left nothing to imagination. She came to work and anyone interested should follow her to her room for 100 Euros, equivalent to US$150. In the village that is enough to buy a cow or seven bags of fertilizer.

The second girl went into the stage and performed almost the same antics. We then decided that it was time to move out and try somewhere else. We went up Granvia Street near Sol Metro, sex workers lined up the streets. They literary scrambled for us as we passed through. Dangerous, dangerous, dangerous stuff! Nothing like that in the village.

A man, who sounded Nigerian went after us. “Where are you from bro? Wot are yu doing hiya?  This villager inhaled deeply, chuckled and decided not to be rude. Zimbabwe! And, what about you? I come from Nigeria, bot I hove lived here mony yors. Can I show yu around? There is a nice club there broda?”

We went into the club but my ancestors have never seen that. Its name was Naked Boys and Girls.

At the entrance, we cast our eyes in and everyone there was naked. Yes naked. Both men and women drinking beer naked and beer glassed in their hands. The doorman, with his six-pack muscle pulled a smile and asked us in, on condition we also stripped to our birth suits. His English was not good but you could hear him.

My mind somersaulted, and there were elderly men among us. Cotton-tuft haired, either way! And, I imagined the elderly in our group stripping!

“This one is for stri-i-iperz. You want to go in strip first then go drink, drink, drink . . . It’s the best ting to do. Good ting sure! Get in!’’

We could not take it. It was too much. This villager has never stripped in public. Probably the last time this villager striped in public was when he was still a toddler.

So the night ended with us going back to out hotel. These girls are like lowly dangling fruits. But you know what, Spain is a good country although there is too much freedom. Dangerous freedom!

The village soothsayer, the ageless autochthon of wisdom and knowledge says, it is just a matter of time before Africa catches up with the madness! With love from Madrid.