Prior to creating my Mombasa memoirs at the end of October, 2010, I was involved in a regional security meeting in Panama. Sean had invited some of his team to Panama City, Panama for a week. The objective was to design new strategies in his region. I was in Panama from October 9-19 with Sean, Gerardo Calix and Alex, who was the Haiti security manager.
Staying at the Plaza Paitilla Inn, we were fairly central in the city. A taxi would take us to the office in the City of Knowledge for our meetings. Being in the city allowed us to enjoy whatever Panama had to offer. Being a security team, it would not be without a stop at a local strip club after a good meal on the way back to the hotel. I was learning more about NGO security teams with each trip and away from home behaviors.
Plans were still underway for upcoming trips that could have me traveling a lot over the next six months. The first following Panama would of course be back to Africa for the sub team meeting, Killer’s team!
Prior to the meetings in Kenya, Killen had sent out a very warm welcome to our newest team member, Vincent Milioti Sr:
I am pleased to announce the recruitment of Mr. Vincent Milioti (Vince) as the GRRT Field Security Advisor.
Vince is new to World Vision and humanitarian action, but comes with reliable evidence of a new passion and commitment to serving Christ through the World Vision ministry – especially in Global Humanitarian Emergencies. He brings 25 years of experience in global security, NGO collaboration, anti-terrorism and military law enforcement. His last job was with the US Airforce as the Director of Security Training for High Risk Areas. Vince holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and is happily married to Rita… – Killen O.
Entering World Vision, the Vincent Milioti era entered with guns blazing and a future full of adventures and changes.
Killers Team Meeting
I left Panama on October 19 and was only home for five days before getting back on a plane. This time for a four day trip to Mombasa, Kenya. It literally took more time in the air than I was on the ground in Mombasa. Killen, our team leader, became known as “Killer Killen”, just because it sounded cool! Killer had been planning this trip since my first run to Panama in September.
With some reorganization to the GRRT, sub team became smaller. Killer’s team only consisted of the Communications and Security teams. In comms were Chris and Steve with myself and Vincent Milioti Sr. brining the security component. This would be the first time we would all be together in a quasi-social arena, and the last time.
The agenda for the meeting was only two days with a day of tourism. Mombasa, a coastal city in Kenya was beautiful from this aspect. Notwithstanding, like any coastal city in East Africa, there was always a concern of pirates. Not long before this trip, pirates had kidnapped a woman just north of Mombasa. Our hotel, the Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort & Spa was on the coast and was amazing!
As mentioned above, the journey took longer than the trip. I departed San Jose on October 25 arriving in Mombasa just after lunch on October 27. The route took me via Dallas, London and Nairobi, where I had to spend a night.
But unlike Vince, my luggage arrived with me! Vince, had to travel from Cyprus, a shorter routing, and somehow his luggage managed to get lost. Scrambling to find clothing and toiletries for the next couple of days, became comical. Vince managed to purchase a pair of shorts and I lent him a shirt. The first day of the meetings, Vince showed up with the white hotel slippers on his feet with the shorts and a Tusker t-shirt. Vince would forever be known as “Mr. Bunny Slippers” from this day forward!
Fortunately, his luggage did arrive late the following day, in time for our evening activity out of the hotel. Prior to the evening follies, Vince and I took some time to get to know each other in the pool. It was good to start knowing who I would be working with in the future.
Kahama Sports Bar
The second night of our stay in Mombasa, we all decided to head to a local bar/restaurant. The five of us found the Kahama Hotel & Kahama’s Sports Bar. This was a short walk from the resort and seemed to be a neat place to socialize.
It was here that, again, I learned that there was not much sanctity in male behavior. Good conversations, lots of alcohol, and the local “mosquitos”, generally meant disaster. “Mosquitos” is a term used in Africa for prostitutes. That said, a pool table, whisky and mosquitos found some of our team members in extracurricular activities. Vince seemed to enjoy his new found role in the humanitarian sector!
Day of Sightseeing
The final day of our stay in Mombasa had us touring the city. We also wanted to look for some souvenirs. Steve did not make the day of tourism due to the prior evening’s activities. So, the four of us, Killer, Vince, Chris and myself headed out in a hired car.
We found the “tourist” section, where we could see crafters making their living. There were artisans of every kind from jewelers makers to wood and stone carvers. I recall Vince was looking for a special gift for one of his daughters. We found some kind of African flute that Vince thought she would like.
As for myself, I found a really nice looking carving of a lion made from Ebony wood. It was here I learned out to tell the fake ebony from real ebony. In Africa, many roadside vendors try to sell you blackened wood saying it is real ebony and marking up the price. But, the true way to tell is by weight. Ebony is a very heavy wood and difficult to carve. If you pick a piece up and it is light and no sustenance, it most likely is not ebony.
Back to Home
On November 1, I started the long journey home after my almost four days in Mombasa. I was looking forward to getting home as Paula and I had decided to move in together. We had found a new apartment a little closer to San Jose with a good view. With no immediate travel on the horizon, It was time to enjoy some of Costa Rica with Paula.