Thanks for lunch today. Thanks for being a bright spot in the day. Thanks for your cheerfulness and your positive outlook on the world. Thanks for being comfortable, honest, encouraging, and non-judgemental.
I didn’t know we would be friends when we first met. I didn’t even know it during those first few days after we’d landed in Africa. We were all feeling our way with a group of new people, trying to establish our relationships during those long hours on the bus. At the start, I didn’t really know who I’d bond with or if I’d bond with anyone. (I was pretty sure who it WOULDN’T be with though. Some things are just obvious.) I didn’t automatically think it would be you, since there were some on the bus with ostensibly more in common with me.
I remember the moment it happened though – the moment we passed the line between polite acquaintances and friends. We’d stopped for a pee break somewhere, and we’d all taken our turns squatting on the floor in the filthy, stinky squatty potty close to the gas station. I have no idea how it came up, but we started talking about bowel movements and how we weren’t sure HOW we could be regular on this trip when we were spending so many hours on a bus and our only options for relieving ourselves would be to squat over a dirty hole in the floor. (I think you were also with me when we were in Maasai-land, miles from even a squatty potty, and I had to bury my "feminine product" under a tree. Ah yes, those were the days.) We had a good laugh, and then we climbed onto the bus.
We sat close to the back, and after letting down our guards a bit over toilet talk, we started a real conversation. Not those polite conversations over family photos that had been the standard on the bus up until that point, but a genuine conversation about our lives, our fears and insecurities, and maybe even the impression we had of some of the other passengers on the bus (yes, we were a little catty now and then).
That was the start of a beautiful friendship. From there it only grew. We learned fairly quickly how to stake out our claim, sidle up to each other when it was time to claim luggage, and end up roommates in those places where we had to share rooms. We even suffered through a night in the same bed, pestered by the mosquitoes who could bite through the screen because we were both pressed up against our sides of it. And then there was the night when we had our own rooms, but I got sick during the night and decided I should find you just in case I passed out in the bathroom (as I’m inclined to do when I get sick) hit my head on the concrete floor, and not be found until morning. Thanks for letting me into your room in the middle of the night. No, you weren’t entirely coherent, but you were still very friendly. :-)
We had some incredible moments, didn’t we? Who can forget the Serengeti? Or the night in the tent when the goats kept us awake? (Thank God for duck tape!) What about the visit to the AIDS orphanage? Or the sexy dancer who had his eye on you? Could you believe our beautiful room at that resort in Tanzania? Or the church service in the bar the next morning (when we skipped communion together)? What about when we bartered for souvenirs in the downtown market?
One of the things I will always remember about Africa is you. You were one of my favourite things about that trip, and there were LOTS of great things. I’m so glad we had a couple of days at the end of the trip when everyone else had gone home. It was fun, wasn’t it?
Thanks for the memories.