“When you travel to another country, it’s always nice to know at least one local, especially if you’re travelling to an African country” a friend of mine who used to live in and travel through the continent tells me all the time.
On January 3rd, 2018, I opened my eyes and I was in a cabin that had a palm roof. I was surrounded by huge rock formations, white sand, a blue lagoon and the red sea. I went outside pretty early and I had a coffee by myself while the others were still sleeping and the camp owner’s cats cuddled around. I thought about my friend’s lines and what had happened the night before.
When Luci and I decided to end 2017 while visiting Egypt and Jordan, I contacted my friend Omar. For months, he got excited with us and for us, and together we counted the days for our arrival and created anticipated memories of how amazing this trip would be.
Luciana was my friend, my sidekick on this trip. She and I met at work but quickly developed a super close relationship. On the trip, Luci was the expert in asking personal and eloquent questions and she made me laugh every time she decided to wear socks as gloves.
Omar was the first Egyptian I’d ever met in my life. We attended the same faculty while we were doing our Masters programs in Sweden. I only saw him a couple of times that year but in each encounter, I noticed what a happy person he was and how his friends hugged him all the time – now I was understanding why.
Then I met Fady, one of Omar’s best friends. Fady spoke Spanish fluently because he had lived in Barcelona. His last name is camel, but with a K. He has a laugh that makes you laugh and he’s the dad of a dog that looks just like Milu, my French bulldog.
The four of us travelled together around the Sinai Peninsula. On the fourth day, we arrived to a camp in the Blue Lagoon and we spent the next 11 hours sitting in front of the water doing what I can now only describe as knitting a family bond. It was as if we had all gotten there to disconnect from the world so we could share and listen only to each other. As hours passed, none of us wanted to go to sleep or miss a second of whatever was happening around us. “We have what they call ‘the fear of missing out’”, said Luci.
While one of us spoke, the rest of us would listen and we would wait to give our opinion or advise. We didn’t miss any topic. I still don’t know if what we shared were stories or confessions. Ideas, dreams, adventures, love affairs, heartbreaks, fears, jokes, wishes, traditional cultures, beliefs and needs – everything seemed to be covered. We talked about how each of us had decided not to follow the religion we had been brought up with but instead decided to seek how to be good people. We talked about our notions of our countries’ past and present history; what exists and what we want to change. We compared our lives’ narratives, our country’s musical instruments, our skin colors, our sayings and our favorite words and songs.
We also shared the silence – especially when we watched a spectacular moonrise or when we made the others notice how the position of stars kept rotating.
Time went by.
We laughed when we realized how we were all influenced by the same elements and by the times we had grown up in. It seemed a sort of humanity thread united us – the Egyptians, the Costa Rican and the Nicaraguan – in this tiny corner of the world.
I still replay that day in my head.
It was in fact nice to know some locals in Africa – especially when you were open enough to share moments that turned them into your family.