2015 April 20: My best experience in New York

by Terra Dick

On Friday, April 17 I received an SMS from Zanele Muholi that I must call Baba Zenzi and Mam’ Magesh Zungu about our New York trip the following day. I called them and arranged to meet at OR Tambo International airport at the KFC.

The sms and call happened while I was packing my stuff for the trip and doing some writing. Then a call came in from my girlfriend, we chatted and told each other how much we missed each other. After that call ended, I contacted the cab driver that was going to pick me up the next morning to take me to the airport. However the cab driver already knew that he had to pick me up so that I can be early at the airport because Lerato Dumse had already called him. I also had to meet with Lerato’s mom, Bukelwa Dumse, because she was going to give me a camera so that I can document the trip with the Zungu’s.

The night before departure I wasn’t sleepy and stayed up till 2 in the morning. I was thinking about this greatest opportunity that I have, being able to go to New York City. I set my morning alarm for 5am till 6am because my transport was going to be there at 6:30am. Around about 3am Muholi called me to find out if everything was in order with the Zungu’s and if I had spoken with Lerato and her mom. After the call I went back to sleep.

I woke up at 6am, took a bath, and went to meet the cab driver outside. At the airport I met with Lerato’s mom and took the camera and then met the Zungu family and they were with friends. They hugged and were happy to see friends come to say goodbye before they travelled to New York. I took pictures and video clips because I was documenting the trip. After that we went to check in because our plane was leaving at 9:30 in the morning. We arrived two hours before and checked in, we found the plane already boarding. I did a short interview with both Baba Zungu and Mama Zungu asking them about how they felt going to New York for the first time.

They shared their feelings of excitement and being scared at the same time because everything was new to them. Our first stop was Dubai; we spent a long time on the plane, arriving in Dubai at 7:30 pm. When we arrived our next boarding plane was at 3am so we had to wait till the morning comes. While we were there Baba Zungu and Mam Magesh wanted to take a walk and buy something. I told them that South African money is just too little in Dubai; I wanted them to experience it for themselves and told them to go. When they returned they said, “Tjooo Terra our R200 here is only worth R50, we only managed to buy two cans of drink and sweets then that was the end of R200,” I laughed at them.

They fell asleep because they were tired, after being on a plane for a long time. I continued taking photos of them while they slept and went around Dubai airport taking more photos. I checked my phone and tried the free Wi-Fi but it was only 30 minutes long and it ended quickly, before I could do a lot on my phone, social networks and trying to tell my family that I’m in Dubai. We waited till 2am in the morning, when Emirates gates were opened for us to board.

One thing that bored me about traveling to New York was that every time as we were boarding they checked us over and over again. Even though we don’t have anything prohibited because they took our stuff such as spray, body lotions and everything that is 100g and above of liquid. We finally got to the plane and we were sitting in different sits. I was on my own sit, while the Zungu couple sat next to each other, anyway I liked that. We spent 13 more hours on the air before landing in New York. I heard Baba Zungu say, “tjoo this was the longest trip ever!” We had to pass through security to check our passports and if we didn’t bring anything to declare.

We finally passed and had to go and pick up their baggage, I had mine with me all the time. I didn’t stop documenting as well. We waited for Baba Muholi after all that process until she came to take us to Brooklyn where we are staying at the airbnb. She arrived, we took photos next to yellow New York cabs because there is no place that you can find yellow cabs in the world besides New York, so that identified that really we are in United State/ New York.

We took a cab to Brooklyn; on our way there I noticed that most of the houses are made of wood yes some with brick but not a lot. They have very few houses with Bugler doors, compared to South Africa and I wondered why. Where we are staying the building is like flats but inside its like a church. The flat is very beautiful like a Hotel but its someone’s house. Bab’ Muholi explained that in places such as New York they some residents rent out their homes to people who come and visit maybe for a month or few weeks so that they can earn from their property. Then during that time the homeowners stay with their friends or family houses or go on holiday.

2015 April 19 Terra MaGesh & Zungu @JFK _9909

Finally we reached our final destination and one of the first photos is the one below taken after we loaded our luggages in the cab. In the photo Terra is with MaGesh and Pastor Z. Zungu.




2015 April 19 MaGesh in a yellow cab_9911

On arrival in New York MaGesh was so excited to be in the yellow cab. Photos by Muholi (19.04.2015)


I was the first one to bath because I wanted Baba and Ma Zungu to take their time when they bathed. When they finished we went to the nearest shop that is around the corner to buy some things. Opposite were we are staying is the Brooklyn Museum where Muholi is going to exhibit her work. The funny thing was every thing looks so cheap like $1;20 however, the one dollar and couple of cents compared to South African rands is expensive. When we left the shop Ma said that I can go and buy myself ice cream because at the shop we thought the money we had was enough by looking at the prices according South Africa, we ended up having to give back the ice cream. So she saw an ice cream truck and she sent me to buy myself one. I went there with a dollar in my hand hahaha. Only to find out that the ice cream was 5 dollars so I had to explain to the guy that I am a South African so I didn’t know how much the ice cream was, and I don’t even understand the New York money, lucky me, they gave me the 5 dollar ice cream with one dollar and that was great.

Muholi was waiting for a student to do an interview with her and MaZungu started to cook. The food was excellent very nice, one day I wish to have a wife that can cook very well too. After the meal we all joined the interview with Baba Muholi. It was great and educational for me because I learned things. I was able to hear Ma Zungu’s story and a bit of VMCI church stories, how it started and how the community members treated Baba Zungu when the church started.

I went to bed and slept, so I could rest for the next day because Muholi had a class that she had to lecture at Bard College at 6:30 pm. I woke up in the morning around 7:30 am to charge my phone, and chat to my girlfriend. Outside the weather was cold and raining, so I had to take out warm clothes to wear.

We arrived at Bard College security/receptionist and waited for the person we were going to meet. When he arrived he took us to the dinning hall to eat after that we went to his office to check our emails while waiting for the class to start. When the class started I documented the event while Muholi was lecturing and talking about her work and what is happening In South Africa to our fellow friends that are lesbians. The talking was about the killings and the funerals that we have to attend because of hate crime and corrective rape, but not only limited to sad stuff, and Muholi even talked about marriage, swag, pride and beautiful photos that she took to represent the work. The students asked questions even when the class was over. Then we had to go to dinner afterwards, when we arrived at the hotel we where served well, and it was my birthday how can I forget that.


Previous link


2013 June 6:  Reviving the spirit of Thokozani


2013 April 7:  The game we played and lost



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2 Responses to 2015 April 20: My best experience in New York

  1. Pingback: 2015 June 7: My Yithi Laba experience | inkanyiso.org

  2. Pingback: 2015 May 27: “My excitement wouldn’t let me miss out” | inkanyiso.org

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