When I moved to Thailand, it didn’t cross my mind that I was going to a place where I would be the minority. The reality of my new circumstance only hit home months in. The awkward stares. *The seemingly endless questions about my kinky hair, and unsought suggestions. Why don’t you just straighten it, why does it look like that; can you make it look like mine, maybe you should buy a hair piece. All of this brought a longing to find people who look like me. Just to see that I’m not alone. This is how it started.
As I travel or just go about town, I notice just about every black person in sight. When I’m with Edu, we both go “black person!”. Or, “Black people!”. It’s a reflex which for me I think comes from that deep seated need to connect, to relate even without saying a word to the other person. In case you’re wondering, we’re not racist at all. We’re an interracial couple.
Some days we count a few black travelers, and some none at all. *In Sevilla for example, we counted four. None but myself in Jarandilla de la Vera. In Nice however; we would have had to count at every turn! Whether we were taking a walk, out for a meal, or looking out the window, I saw plenty of brown. Nice has more black locals than black travelers. Dancing in La Havane Nice one night, I met two groups of black African ladies. I say black AND African in the same line because Africans come in all sorts of colours. White, Indian, coloured (in Africa coloured is an official term for people of a mixed lineage in which first generation is born of a black and white couple, and it isn't derogatory). As I have come to learn through my travels, not everyone knows this. Back to Havane, the ladies were from Cameroon and Benin, settled in France with their families. It was ladies’ night out and their husbands were babysitting. They were out for a good time and I felt lucky to have been there for the chats, and just enjoyed watching them in their joy. They spoke French and I spoke English. I understand a bit of French, they managed a few English words. Despite the language barrier, we connected.
Besides being a black travel friendly city, Nice is a lovely place. Easy to navigate and see all the top recommended things to do in Nice. Browse chic fashion boutiques. Enjoy French bakes in one of many cafés lining walkways. Feel like a piece on a chess board in Place Massena while marveling at the beauty that surrounds it. Enjoy a tour of Old Town Nice by foot; making sure to stop at the famous Fenocchio for an ice cream or frozen yoghurt. Use the opportunity to rest your legs before taking off again to discover more hidden gems on your way to the promenade.
...and when you're hot and tired from all the walking, don't be afraid to dive into the cool sea for a swim before a sundowner or two at Movida. You could also just lay on the pebble paved beach and get a tan. None for me however; melanin does the trick already. If I did try to get a tan, my friend Dani would have an even more difficult time trying to take photos with me. I can picture how that might go...
Dani: Lyn I can't see you. It's too dark.
Me: No girl, I'M dark. Just look for the teeth. We can try to edit later.
.....and we'll have laughs about it for the rest of our jolly lives :)
Friendly tip for my not of colour readers :)
*These are conversations you would rather reserve for people with whom you have formed an acquaintance or established a mutual relationship.