Hello, West Africa!

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Hello, West Africa!

Our airplane landed.

Atlanta is a mess of tired people and construction. With Portland’s cool temps and mountain views 5 hours away, I attempted to switch gears, adjust to the humidity and lack-luster views from my currently low altitude.

Our car was parked at a Days Inn a few miles away. My husband called to see when the shuttle would arrive.

“2:40,” they said.

Not wanting to miss it, we headed straight to the spot we knew. Well, he knew. I don’t remember these things until all the way there. Ah, yes. I have been to this spot that now looks oddly deserted with a sign telling us to go somewhere else. Zone 1 had moved and its new location was unclear at first glance.

As we look around and timidly walked in what seemed to be the right direction, a man coming toward us spoke up.

“Hotel shuttle?”


“Right before the taxis.”

He noted our confusion and repeated himself twice.

I noted his accent. West Africa. That’s all I was sure of. Liberia wasn’t crystal clear. Maybe Ghana? It has been far too long for me to be trusted with a 5 second conclusion. If I deliberate any further, all of West Africa will shun me.

To the untrained ear, his tone had been gruff mixed with arrogance. But once I narrowed down his place of origin just a tad, I felt at ease.

When you know, you know…even if you don’t fully know. And it shifts your shoulders down. I wasn’t offended. I didn’t feel the need to demand that he speak to me nicely. He belonged to a part of my history that I treasure.

When you know, you make room.

When you know, you respect, you listen.

When you know, you aren’t afraid.

You do nothing perfectly but far better than you would have in a land of strangers.

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