To all the people without whom we couldn’t travel

That girl, when she pulled me in. Roughly she grabbed my elbow without a word and had me share her umbrella. The walk was far longer than I expected and the rain started coming down heavily. I was already running panicky late and was coming to terms with the fact that I was about to miss my bus after the boarder crossing had been done. On the road between the two countries I was in as much of an emotional borderland as a geographical. Trying to suppress the oncoming stress. That girl, in her simple action, comforted me more than any thought I could have come up with by myself. That girl and her firm grip around my elbow for the next twenty minutes reassured me that I was going in the right direction. Being on the right way. I shall not have any regrets. That girl.

That man who looked at us and asked what we are searching for. That man who managed to spot us two girls close to despair in the back seat of an abandoned taxi. He made the effort of crossing the Guinean traffic and in a broad American accent ask us if we needed help. Not even half way through our summary of the last few hours of events he invited us into his house for the oncoming night. Had his wife cook for us, gave us the room of his kids and even had them heat the water for our showers. The day after our bellies we’re full and our hearts lightened. Maybe Guinea would be quite an alright place after all?

That guy who saw us coming through the gates to his secret haven clearly uninvited. Eager for adventure we ventured quite randomly south and wanted one happy memory of a country who kept disappointing us. Close to turn away and leave since the place all seemed abandoned my curiosity had me take one more step until we were visible to the inhabitant. The stories, the warmth and the endless cups of teas had us stay the rest of the day until sun was setting and travelling would turn dangerous in these parts. That guy with a witty humour and clear mind changed all our perspectives of Gambian men through honestly sharing his beliefs, struggles and hopes.

That mother, who hugged me the second she saw me entering her home. The mother who cooked special vegetarian food for me and promptly taught me the words for all the dishes in Bahasa Indonesia. That mother who have endless streams of strangers coming in to her home and still treats each and every one of them like a child of her own. That mother who laughed at our futile tries to help her cook, who was honestly sad to see me leave. That mother.

That friend of a friend I hadn’t seen for years. Who just because we both used to know someone took me and my other friend in. Whos mother cooked us food, whos auntie foretold our futures. Who taught us the real meaning of a “blag” and the way West African men joke. Took us through the ascetic parts of town, far away from tourist traps. Opened his home and his ever lasting smile, waving away flies and laughing at my stubborn hatred for the persistent little insects. To know someone for a day and then have a friend for life. That friend of a friend.

That woman on the bus. When I asked the bus driver about the address of the bus driver I didn’t know the entire passenger list heard me. Shortly they we’re all debating what would be the most convenient way of reaching the clinic. When we came to the stop she took my hand, stopped me from crossing the road until she, a retired lady wearing glasses, could assure me there’s no cars coming. Then she pulled me along, counted the cars parked along the street and told me exactly at which one I should turn left. That woman wouldn’t let go of my hand until our roads forced us to split all though I reassured her she didn’t have to walk an extra ten minutes for me to find this place. That woman.

That guy on the phone. We really don’t know how he figured us out and could foresee our arrival. When we got off the bus in Mopti, close to the disputed area in Mali, there stood a guy calling our names. He had been sent down from Timbuktu by a guy we happened to ask about a bus on the phone, who another guy called for us from the hostel in Bamako. These unforeseen chain of events was all over our heads and we were quite sceptical until we kind of realised, it’s nice to get some help. In the end, that guy on the phone, set us up with our guide for the Dogon Country and three days of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. That guy.

That lady. When I confusedly asked about this particular place with no address I was going to, she pulled out her scooter and had me jump behind her back. Driving around the whole area for 45 minutes, stopping every now and then to ask people and then sadly turned back to her house in failure. When the rain started to trickle she insisted on my coming inside for coffee and preferably even stay the night. I very politely had to turn the offer down and continue my search. Warmed by her helpful and uncomplicated kindness. That lady.

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