When I think about traveling, what comes to mind most is the people, not the places. Take for instance the girl I met on the plane from Newark to Lisbon. When she heard that I had a 12-hour layover in Portugal before flying to Ghana, she said, "My mom and I can show you around the city if you want," which is precisely what they did. They brought me to a monastery where I saw the final resting place of Vasco da Gama, several lookout points where I could see the whole city, and a famous custard tart cafe that has long lines even at nine in the morning. While we were eating, the mother's old colleagues from the Indonesian Embassy happened to walk by, and they joined our table. Before I knew it, we were cracking jokes with an Indonesian ambassador over cafe au laits. When they said good-bye at the tram that would take me back to the airport, there were hugs received, emails exchanged, and kind reminders given to take my malaria medicine in Ghana. All because of a lucky seat assignment.
In Ghana, I've received much the
same greeting. I've lost track of how many people have smiled and waved
at me. I've been welcomed into people's homes, and I feel like I've
known them my entire life. Today, I traveled to several different
schools, and the children in each classroom sang a song to welcome me.
When I sat down, the girl next to me touched my hair and said, "Madam, I
want you to be my best friend." I think I can manage that.
Then in a
small village, we met the chief, and I carried one of his descendants
around, strapped to my back with a colorful, beautifully patterned cloth.
I am looking forward to visiting an orphanage this afternoon, but I
must admit that I am sitting in an internet cafe with time ticking,
people waiting, and pictures not loading. So until next time, just know that I am happy, and I
can't ask for anything more than that.