Unexpected pleasures of travel

Traveling by Peugeot station wagon bush taxi from Abidjan to a small town just inside Liberia, in the iron-rich area around Mount Nimba, upon arriving at the frontier, a small river, the customs agent pointed out that I couldn't enter Liberia -- I should have had my passport stamped at the last town through which I had passed, twenty some kilometers back - and only one last taxi-brousse would make the trip that particular evening. As the Peugeot finally headed back for Danané, where I had not been prepared to make a stop, a young African seated next to me asked me en français if I were French. No, I answered rather curtly, not relishing the thought of having to find a hotel room at midnight. Was I Lebanese? Again no. Now he was quite curious, since I obviously wasn't African. I indicated my nationality... "You're American?" he bubbled with excitement. Where was I going? À Danané. Where was I going to stay that evening? I hadn't the faintest idea. Jean then invited me to stay at his brother's home in town. I enjoyed their hospitality for two days, it turned out, and took many photos of daily Dan life, including two of the cutest three-year-old twin girls. Needless to say, I had a wonderful time! Anyone who has traveled over long distances in far-off lands has this happen at one time or another. Ordinary people are really pretty nice to one another. Of course, the fact that he was an Ivorian studying in Liberia to become an English teacher, and happened to bump into a native English speaker didn't hurt. And the photos? I made up an album and sent it to the family as a thank-you gift. And still today, when I give a visual presentation of Peace Corps life, photos of that family evoke some very fond memories.

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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.