Six years ago yesterday I forgot the promise I’d made to Travis and his Mom. Six years ago yesterday Steve, Nansie and I spent a lot of time talking about the events of the last week and trying to decide if I should leave the next day or if I should go to the debrief at the Golf Hotel and leave when I could get out the next week. Six years ago yesterday Abena and Kofi came to the house to visit the kids there. Six years ago yesterday the neighbor kids were playing basketball outside the house I was staying in. Six years ago yesterday the kids overshot the hoop and the ball smacked into the tin roof. Six years ago yesterday when the ball hit the metal, three of us dove on the floor looking for cover while everyone who lived in Abidjan didn’t react. Six years ago yesterday Nansie told me I needed to go back to the States sooner than later. Six years ago yesterday after I agreed with her, I got a phone call reminding me I’d promised to travel with Travis and I was booked on a flight the next day.
Six years ago today Steve took me to the hotel to say some good-byes. Six years ago today as we drove to the hotel we found ourselves in the fringes of a protest. Six years ago today as we were slowly driving through the protest, I found my stomach making its way to my throat and tears fighting against my eyelids. Six years ago today Steve assured me we would be ok and got us away from the protest as soon as he could.
Six years ago today I got to see a number of people and say good-bye at the hotel. Six years ago today I started to second guess my promise to leave with Travis. Six years ago today I met my friend Tim and his son Tim at the hotel. Six years ago today Tim assured me leaving today was a no brainer. Six years ago today that meant a lot; six years later it still does.
Six years ago today I got to the airport without incident. Six years ago today I met the other 12 people from school who were traveling with us. Six years ago today we found out we had to fly to Ghana to get a flight to Amsterdam to get flights to the States. Six years ago today as Travis and I were checking in the counter agent told me I couldn’t take my carry-on with me, it was too big for the plane taking us to Ghana. Six years ago today I started to lose it at the ticket counter. Six years ago today all I could think was that all my worldly belongings were in that carry-on and if it disappeared or was pilfered between Abidjan and Denver I might fall apart completely. Six years ago today Travis grabbed my bag, took it over to the plastic wrap guy and got it all wrapped up so it would be impossible to quickly grab something from it.
Six years ago today we took the short flight to Ghana and then sat in the Accra airport for hours and hours. Six years ago today we made friends with a lady who worked in the airport. Six years ago today we gave her money and she went out of the airport to bring us amazing non-airport food. Six years ago today after we finished our non-airport food a KLM agent brought us a huge box of sandwiches. Six years ago we finally got on the plane to Amsterdam. Six years ago today I left Africa with a mixture of relief and profound sadness.
photo courtesy of Marco Petrozzi