hope

I can’t remember exactly what she said. It was something like, “But it protects American lives.” Or “They are terrorists.” It was a matter of us versus them, and we were more valuable than them. I did not know how to respond. The woman who made this statement was a friend, had lived overseas, was university educated, and, I thought, had compassion. I was stunned into silence.

It was just over a year post 9/11 and I was gathered with friends to study the Bible. At the end of our time together discussion moved to politics, particularly Guantanamo Bay, which was then starting to show up in the news with increasing frequency. I was in disbelief over the situation and embarrassed that we, as a nation, were side-stepping the law and holding men indefinitely without charging them. My heart was heavy over the crimes that America was committing in Guantanamo Bay, and I, as an American and an International citizen, wanted it to end. Not in six months or a year or ten years when all of the terrorist were caught and the threat level at airports was back to green, but I wanted it done yesterday, or, in the least, today.

In my mind America was becoming like the nations and ideals she was fighting – making up her own rules and pretending that there were no consequences to her actions. Guantanamo was supposed to be a secret, a way to step around rules and live above the law. This was made acceptable by the attitude of fear that was being instilled in the nation from its highest offices. Innocent until proven guilty. This foundational concept of our court systems was tossed out the window not only by my friend but by our leaders. Detainees at Guantanamo were nameless and faceless; they were terrorists. They were thems. They were the thems that sabotaged us on our land and threatened our children. Having them in custody made us feel safe. Them. Us. Us. Them.

Today President Obama took a significant step towards ending the battle of us versus them by halting prosecutions at Guantanamo. I know that there is still a long way to go for the entire operation to be shut down, but I have new hope that we will, possibly soon, be a nation that is not ruled by an attitude of fear. I have hope that we will abide by laws and live with an assumption of actions having consequences. I have hope that we will not classify the people of the world as ‘us’ and ‘them’, but will instead place equal value on each person’s life. It will be a long road to get there, but I have hope.

on being a redhead

preface

Recently I have talked with a handful of people about redheads finding an identity in their red hair. I have talked with people of various hair colors and it seems that red hair is the only hair color around which an identity is formed. (I am not touching hair texture, curls, or straightness.) Renee, a friend and fellow redhead, has a parallel post to this one. We hope you enjoy these and we would love to know your thoughts on the subject.

musings

The other day an office mate asked, “You have red hair?” Ouch. You see, my hair changes color with time and location, but I have red hair. Back in middle school, I was like everyone else in the practice dive pool wearing a neon, multi-colored wetsuit. Only difference between me and everyone else was that I was told that the brightest thing in the pool was my hair. An outside pool, the natural copper strands in my hair reflected sunlight coming down from above and bouncing off the water to shine like a new copper penny. That, or I simply had bright red hair.

Red hair is this odd beast. As a child, I remember thinking that my hair was not what was called red when describing colors–fire engine red, apple red, or blood red. It was more like a fire–a changing, melding mix of colors–than the one-tone colors of my crayons, colored pencils, or finger paints. To me, it seemed the color of a shinny new penny. And yet, the world called it red. Mentally I reconciled this by  deciding it was easier for the masses to have four simple categories by which to classify hair color: black, brown, blonde, and red. Kind of like how people’s skin tones in this country are called black or white, and yet I rarely see someone who is truly black (though in the winter there are a lot of truly white people). And so, by the world’s standards, I am a redhead.

When you have red hair, you have to own it.

“Is that natural?” “You have such beautiful hair.” “So unique.” “It’s bright.” “You will never dye that–will you?” Yes, it is mine, 100% natural, and no I have not yet dyed it. (Yet–but I’ll get to that later.) I’m glad you like it. Thank you.

Then came the assumptions. “Redheads are fiery.” “Redheads have tumultuous tempers.” “Redheads are wild in bed.” All said in a weird tone that is a mix of humor, admiration, and desire. If fiery can be described by laugh loudly and loving life, I guess that’s right. I have a temper that you don’t want to step in front of, though it has cooled immensely over the years. I simply will not touch that last statement here. And I doubt any of this has to do with my hair color.

Then came the questions. “Do your parents have red hair?” “Do your siblings have red hair?” and (my favorite–only asked once though I wonder how many others have wondered), “Is your pubic hair also red?” My dad’s mother had red hair (which she dyed red when it went grey). There is not an ounce of red hair on my father’s or brothers’ heads, but their beards are full of it (ok…dad’s was red, but has recently turned white). As the gene for red hair is definitely turned on in this body, yes, my pubic hair is red. Now you don;t have to be embarrassed by asking or die of curiosity.

See what I mean? You have to own being a redhead. It is not like getting a tattoo on your neck or wearing unique clothing — you are an enigma, you had no choice about it, and so you embrace it. Fully.

I loved that my hair toned down when inside buildings to just a hint of red, and became bright when it reflected sunlight. A few tried to tell me that my hair was not really red, but rather this ambiguous thing called auburn. I don’t think so. I got over the fact that red hair did not mean fire engine red a long time ago, so you should too. You don’t give a girl an identity and then take it away.

Only problem is that as I have gotten older, my hair has slowly become darker. This is accentuated by the fact that I now spend very little time under the equatorial sun or on the ocean thus preventing it from being bleached to bright red. What am I supposed to do with this piece of my identity (which I did not choose) that seems to be fading (not by my choosing)?

I have been told that it is just hair. I’m reminded that the color is still beautiful and complex, and it continues to be complemented every time I go to a hairstylist.  But, you’re wrong–it’s not just hair. Red hair is literally written into my DNA. A while back the New York Times published an article on how research shows that redheads might have a higher pain tolerance because of our DNA. A doctor also told me that how redheads metabolize medicine, anesthesia in particular, is not predictable–though it is for people of all other hair colors. So even if I dye my hair black, my DNA says I am a redhead.

Maybe you think I’m crazy. Just a redhead obsessed with her hair or in the midst of a late-20’s identity crisis. I promise you that it’s not just me. Go ahead–ask your redheaded friends about this. I’ve asked all of mine. They agree. So what do I do now?

I’ve schemed of ways to lighten my hair to bring out the red–the best, or most imaginative, of which it is to become a mate on a sailing boat in the South Pacific. I’ve also thought that maybe, just maybe, someday, I will dye my hair. I’m not there yet, but maybe. Someday. Today I stand strong in the knowledge that my DNA dictates that I am a redhead. And I hope that no-one asks me what color my hair is because I don’t want to listen to them say I am wrong when I say it is red. I am not a brunette.

I am a redhead.

iron mike

day to day
lost in the mundane,
which is really the wild.
sometimes it takes unusual inspiration
to shake me out of the day to day.
inspiration from another’s sacrifice,
inspiration from america:
iron mike.

I hurriedly wrote the above after a staff meeting earlier this week. Mike is an average 55 year old man from Elizabethtown. He became ‘Iron Mike’ when he biked from coast to coast to raise funds for Blood:Water Mission. He found something worth fighting for, bought a bike a couple weeks before the ride began, joined the team, and rode his bike for the better part of 9 weeks telling people at gas stations, parks, churches and concerts about the men, women, and children who needed clean water in Africa. Iron Mike and his team raised a fairly impressive sum of money and impacted thousands. Beyond that, they were and continue to be inspiring. Iron Mike stopped in our office earlier this week and he encouraged our staff to continue our work and to work towards excellence.

I love what I do, and I love Africa. America is comfortable, but I let my guard down in Africa. The stories of hurt and happiness, of pain and perseverance, and of trials and triumphs of Africans are my day to day. In America it is in the pictures, proposals, and reports that I read daily, and in Africa it is all around me. It is wild and lovely, but is my day to day. In America I am surrounded by shiny windows, smooth roads, fast food, and blinking lights; consumerism. It is a constant sensory overload and yet it is uninspiring. And that is why I found Iron Mike so refreshing and incredibly inspiring. I am grateful to be in a place where I have the privilege to regularly be inspired and blessed by the Iron Mike’s of America.

how was africa?

Africa is a continent, not one country or one people, but I find this to be something hard for many to truly grasp as they sit across an ocean from this grand continent. Although I understand where this misconception comes from, it makes me want to ask a Boston native about soul cooking and an LA resident why they don’t have a Jersey accent. Most of the time I refrain as I remind myself that they have not had the same privileges of travel with which I have been blessed. And, when they ask how Africa was, I tell them a word or two about the specific country from which I have just returned.

My new job puts the question, “How was Africa?” in a new context. On this trip I have visited South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, and Kenya. Within several of these countries I have visited locations that are as diverse as Chicago and Chattanooga and Charlotte. In October I will return to visit Uganda, Rwanda, and likely Ghana.

“How was Africa?”

On this trip, the diversity and differences found within Africa seem particularly vivid. This being my first trip to Mozambique, it was fun to find the Portuguese and Brazilian influence on the country everywhere I turned. Homes are painted bright colors, music is tinted with Latin flavors, driving is relaxed, and conversation is filled with the smooth tones of Portuguese. Each country, each region is unique, but this was a new flavor for me. Kind of like traveling across America and suddenly landing oneself in Texas.

Completely distinct from the rest of this trip was Marsabit, a town and region in Northern Kenya. This is the desert region just south of Ethiopia that is largely forgotten by Kenya. The landscape is filled with igneous rocks, and desert trees and scrubs which provide little protection from the harsh sun. The main road to Ethiopia is a bumpy, dusty dirt road; it is by far the best around. Here herds of animals are life, water trips take days, women wear bright scarves, and homes are moved on camels’ back. Sort of like being time warped to a 100 years ago to visit ranchers in Montana.

When I say ‘kind of’ or ‘sort of’ like such and such, I am trying to make the differences and the vitality of life in Africa a bit more real, but I often wonder if it works. How does one take a National Geographic special that is what I have just experienced and make it anything but the two dimensional image of my photographs? Maybe if I told you stories as I unpacked my suitcase so that you could experience the mingling smells of the fresh coffee beans I bring back and laundry dirtied in the villages or if we talked as we bounced along in a four wheeler or if we sat in the hot autumn sun with music taped at villages and schools serenading us in the background, these images, these rich and vibrant cultures, would become real. Yet it is so much more complex to try and communicate an image, an understanding, stuck in my head that is constantly changing and growing. How can I blame someone for seeing Africa as one place when I, who have traveled much, struggle to make even the most simple of stories real to friends I love?

I feel as if each place I visit in Africa adds a color or a layer to an oil painting. With each visit my painting of Africa becomes more detailed, increasingly complex, and ever richer. Somehow the diversity that I experience and try to share with others fits onto one wild canvas. Yet, as I continue to add to this painting, I doubt it will ever be complete. One canvas, one painting, so many parts, sections, colors, and textures.

Maybe as my painting of Africa continues to grow in my head and in my heart, my response to the question, “How was Africa?” will change. Maybe I will simply say, “She is good.”

moving my crap

The moving van is loaded with my crap. By crap I really mean my treasures, except that they are mostly not. It is really the memories that are attached to these objects or the possibilities that they represent that somehow transform them into treasures.

My Jordanian serving dishes are a memory of seven years spent in the Holy Land, a reminder of Arab hospitality, and the possibility of many a good meal to be served to friends. The Palestinian wine glasses hold memories of long nights of merriment. Although I have yet to break one, I bought 18 with the hope of being left with a small set 20 years later with which to continue to make memories.

There is a box of pottery that represents a year of being soothed by the repetition of a potter’s wheel, of letting beauty be created from my hurt and exhaustion. There are fragrant spices that have slowly been collected from around the world that bring my food to life. There are boxes of journal papers and field notebooks that are a testimony to five years of research at Notre Dame and in Benin. There are boxes of photos and enlarged prints that are a reminder of where I have been and the people that fill my heart.

There is an art table at which to create. There is a breakfast nook at which to serve meals. There is camping gear galore. There is a bed on which to sleep.

These are all just things, just crap of one sort or another. I could loose it all and I would still be complete, and yet in moving it from my home to what will become my home, there is a process of remembering. A processes of saying goodbye, letting go, and opening the arms and heart wide to the next place that will hold all my crap.

An so, tomorrow morning circa 7am, the moving van, me, and all my crap are on the road to Nashville.

kenya

I was born in Kenya while my parents where in the Peace Corps. While I only spent 7 months there out of the womb, I have always had a fascination, a connection of sorts, with the country and have wanted to return. 27 years after being one of two white babies in Nairobi Hospital, I returned. Five rip highlights:

 

1-Visiting the hospital where I was born. Though it has grown significantly, ‘my ward’ was still there, and mom and I snuck a quick photo while we walked down the hall.

 

2-A friend treated us to a wonderful day at a tea estate where we learned all about how tea is made, drunk our fair share of tea, ate some wonderful food, and enjoyed some magnificent gardens and tea fields.

 

3-We returned to Thika High School, the boys’ boarding school where my parents taught math. We visited our house, and walked all around the school.

 

4-One night was spent at Castle Forest Lodge, where Queen Elizabeth stayed at age 19. A beautiful location, Mount Kenya gave me a beautiful birthday present when she was fully visible in the morning.

 

5-We had birthday cake and coffee at the Norfolk Hotel. A waiter searched high and low for a way to keep a candle lit with the wind outside, and was, finally successful. So not only did I get a beautiful piece of cake, but a candle to blow out as well.

it is the little things in life

It is the little things in life, the things that could go unnoticed or fade into the background, that are often the sweetest things in life. They are the spices that make the ordinary into the exotic.

Yesterday morning as I was lounging in my parent’s bedroom shortly after waking, a monkey was spotted out the window. There was a thud and a scampering as he ran across the roof and jumped to the next tree. Then he was on his way as he walked the power lines away from he house.

Swimming the ocean later in the morning I decided to swim parallel to the shore as there were rumors of portuguese man-off-wars being sited further out. So, instead, I ended up seeing three small jellyfish, all below the surface and seemingly without tentacles. Given their lack of tentacles, I was able to enjoy the grace of their movement in the water.

In the past I have sometimes swum in a pool that was divided between lap lanes and free swim areas. On more than one occasion I have run into a pool toy (think swimming noodle or beach ball) that had drifted into my lane. Yesterday I nearly ran into a coconut innocently bobbing in the water.

Last night I rode home from the embassy with dad. This meant I was on the back of his scooter as we drove along the beach and the sun began to set. A glorious few moments. Later in the evening we went out again and stars were visible in the night sky as we zipped through the cool night air.

It is the little things in life.

tearful remembrance

Although I did not cry tonight, I was tearful. Due to a friend’s desire to discuss the book, I have been listening to Leap of Faith: Memories of an Unexpected Life by Queen Noor; tonight I finished listening to the book. Really, I should not say that I just listened to the book as many of her words brought back vivid memories and feelings from the years I spent in Jordan. As I listened to the Queen’s story, I imagined where I was when different events occurred and added my own thoughts and feelings to hers as she spoke of favorite places that I also loved. It has been a beautiful time of remembrance.

As I sit here writing, there is so much that could be said, so many memories that could be recounted, and I do not know which to share. Part of this questioning stems from knowing that many people do not have a context within which to place these stories—although set in modern times, it is little different than listening to tales of Arabian Nights, albeit less interesting. Yet these stories are interwoven into my past and are part of who I am. So today I write about why I was tearful this evening.

King Hussein, the third king of Jordan, died from cancer during my senior year of high school. During the fall of my senior year he was at Mayo Clinic receiving treatment. In mid January of 1999, he was declared to be free of cancer and returned home. Following his custom, he flew his own jet home. On the ground, the country was jubilant—their king was well and returning home. There was dense cloud cover that hung low in the sky that day and a light rain watering the ground. There were rumors that the king would drive the processional route from the airport to his home in a ‘Pope-mobile’ with a glass bubble over the sun roof to protect him from the cold, damp air. But, the king would not have that and stood out of an open sun roof the entire parade route waving to his people. Apparently Queen Noor braced his legs to enable him to stand the whole way. As my home was only several blocks from the route, I was able to remain in the warmth of my home until I knew the king had begun the drive. Then my family and I headed to the route and joined the throngs of people. I waved my greeting at the king along with everyone else.

It was about two weeks later that I returned to that spot along the parade route, only this time everyone was dressed in black and the air was filled with grief and sorrow as King Hussein had not only take a turn for the worse, but had died. The procession moved much slower through the streets this time as there was no need to rush the king home, but there was a need to let his people say their farewells. After his coffin passed my spot, I watched as streams of men ran after the coffin with tears streaming down their faces.

Following Islam, the funeral occurred within 24 hours of his death, and yet over 50 heads of state, including the four living, healthy US presidents, came to the funeral. As the funeral did not have a time for eulogies, the US presidents and Hillary Clinton gave their eulogies at a press conference, and I sat in the audience. Living in the Middle East as the child of a diplomat was at times interesting and frustrating as American policy was often, let’s say, lacking. That night, however, was a good night as I was honored to listen as my Presidents eulogized a man whom I had come to greatly respect, a man that was, in many ways, also my King Hussein as Jordan was my home. That night of sorrow was a beautiful one in which my worlds collided.

to live

This afternoon as I spent time writing at a cafe. Writing for me; writing to work through thoughts hovering below the surface. The sun has now set, and it has been a good time to think, to reflect. The past months have rushed by disappearing almost before they began as my time was filled from waking to sleeping with the motions of research, writing, and trying to live. Now I am almost done and am working to remember what it is like to simply be, to let the mind and body slow to a healthy pace. It is good.

Today I spent time mulling over the future, thinking about my wants, my likes, and my desires. If you were to walk up to me today and ask what I was going to do next, what my goals and aspirations are, I could answer you clearly and concisely. I created goals that society approves of—they hard for many people in the Midwest to understand because they are, in their simple concept, so foreign and different from their daily lives, but they can appreciate them as goals.

One day I even created five and ten year life plans. They are good plans. But, if I am completely honest, I will not be disappointed if I do not walk the road of these plans. Today, as I thought about my wants, my dreams, I realized that they have nothing to do with these goals. Rather, they have everything to living life to its fullest.

I have imagined so many things for my life, so many different avenues that I could walk down; each is beautiful in its own way. What these avenues hold in common is this: I want to live. I want to continue to learn. I want to give of my abilities and knowledge. I want rich friendships and a home to share. These are hard ideas for many people to grasp as there is no seven step plan that will enable me to reach these goals, no five or ten your plan to be created. It means that I do not know what the future will look like What I do know is that it will be rich.

Today I am excited about the future, about the richness of life that this unknown is sure to be.

no hotels?

This past week I got to enjoy the company of friends in Denver—I was traveling there for a conference, and got to spend three nights at their house. I spent the days at the conference, and the evenings were spent with friends. This meant we shared meals and conversations. I got to go to dinner with them, several of their colleagues, and 12 Japanese medical personnel that were visiting for the week. On Halloween, my last night, I got to help Mimi host the same group of people (nearly 20) for dinner. For the Japanese, it was their first Halloween, and everyone loved helping answer the door to hand out candy and take a few pictures too!

One of my many conversations with Mimi during our visit centered on hospitality and opening one’s home to friends and strangers alike. Mimi spoke of Salt, a town in Jordan, where there are no hotels. The people of Salt saw no need for hotels as their houses were open to all passing through. If your car broke down, and it would take a day to fix it, you were welcome to stay. How incredible it would be to live in such a place! It is a simple thing—giving someone a place to lay their head, a meal to fill their stomach, and conversation to fill the air and the heart.

I have stayed on floors, in beds, on couches, and in rooms with young children. Every time I have been thankful for a home to lay my head and grateful for new memories made with friends. I have no idea what the future holds, but I hope that it includes being able to provide a place for friends, old and new, to share a meal, to rest their heads, and to create memories.

saying goodbye

I believe that a proper “goodbye” is important. It is important because it provides closure. It does not mean that the person or place will be forgotten. It does not reduce the memory. It does not remove longing. It does not mean that you will never see that person again. Rather it honors that person, that place—the relationship. It means that those times were worthy of saying goodbye to as we feel no need to say goodbye to the unimportant things in life—they simply slip into our past.

Today is the age of quick travel from one place to another, seemingly reducing the need to say goodbye. In 24 hours of travel I can make it from West Africa to the Midwest, US of A. We have internet and phones. When I am in the bush I can use a satellite connection to phone or email as needed. It is an age in which I can travel to a country thousands of miles away six times for my doctorate research. No slow ships or trains making that too timely, no state laws or cultural norms preventing me, as a woman, from pursuing graduate degrees. All of this worked together so that over six trips, four of which were summers based in one village, I could fall in love with a land and a people. Not just a people, but certain people.

Today we give business cards and trade email addresses like they are sports cards. You are checking my blog, which instantly allows friends—old and new, and even, possibly, people unknown to me, to check up on my life and travels. This has taken away the old fashioned goodbye. Now we say, “See you later.”

Over the past week I said, “Goodbye,” to a country and people that I love. I said goodbye because these things that seem to make my world so small do not translate to life in the bush. I can hand out piles of business cards, but that does not enable long distance communication. Internet has come to the town where we go to market weekly. Unfortunately, many of the people that I love most do not even make it in to market but a couple times a year. Forget the hurdle of physically manipulating a computer and the internet or finding the money to use such resources—they are hardly ever in town. It would be beautiful to return to the village again in the future, the village where children great white people by yelling, “Pameeeeeela.” It would be beautiful, but it would not be the same.

The twins would be too large to throw into the air as their lungs filled with laughter. Little Felecite would no longer be able to get piggy-back rides (almost too big for that now), and she would be able to out run me. Big Felicite would no longer grab a bucket to join me for my nightly shower. Pascal would no longer run to great me as I walked past his house. New mud houses might have been built, old ones fallen apart. Trees, even the large Baobabs, might have fallen due to old age or insect influxes. Time changes both the land and the people.

Maybe some things would be the same. I could still sit in Martine’s kitchen filling my clothes with the aromas of burning wood. She would still laugh when I suggest such odd combinations as peanut sauce with rice for dinner. Fortune would still be working to get one step further, to educate his children. I would still hear Andre’s deep, booming voice before I could see him. Remi would still take me to see his expansive farms. The women would still use large mortars and pestles to pound yams, and stones to grind peanuts. Morning would still be greeting time. The red dirt road would still be red and the jagged hills magnificent. These are things I imagine and hope would be the same if I were to return in 5 or 10 or 15 years.

But I don’t know if I will go back in 5 or 10 or 15 years. Even if I do, it will be different. Regardless, my relationships in Benin are such that they warranted a proper goodbye—no “see you later.” So I said goodbye. A good, hard goodbye. I cried. It has been good.

relationships of resistance

Each relationship is unique and expresses itself differently. A few
things seen recently:

-RC reads letters from her man each morning speaking of his love for
her. Her heart has influenced his such that he now wants to visit Africa
with her to know her heart more.
-Martine sitting in the kitchen, one of the twins on her lap, the other
next to her, patiently feeding them though they could easily feed
themselves by now.
-LS knowing that when she calls home from school worried about time to
do the shopping that ‘Mommy will fix it’ by getting some of it done for her.
-A child calmed by resting on his mother’s back as she walks around the
house.
– RC and SR walking back to the house, their body language screaming to
all around that they are sisters at heart and spirit. As LS has joined
the dishes, breakfast, and evening preparations of our village life, I
have confidence it will soon be a threesome as surviving the foreign,
and making it habits created deep bonds.

These are all good, healthy relationships. But, the relationship of
interest today is none of those. Rather, it is a relationship that,
while containing love, is a relationship of resistance. My little
Felicite. Sunday morning, our first full day in village, she would not
come and greet me though all the children were telling her to come. But
then, as she saw us preparing to head to mass, she grabbed a bucket of
water and soap and marched off to the shower (of course ignoring me on
the way). When she arrived at mass in her beautiful dress, she would not
come near by, but sat slightly in front of me so that I could see her.
As we headed out, without a word, I gave her my Bible, a part of our
past routine, to carry home. She would walk beside or in front of me,
but no hand held out like other children to greet or to hold. At home
she gave me my Bible and off she went to change to her play clothes.
Upon returning, she silently joined the crowd on the porch. A little
later I grabbed her and flipped her upside for she is gymnast at heart.
It was then that her serious face broke. And her dimples slowly appeared
as smile crept across her face.

My you experience and revel in a beautiful relationship today.

bénin from a distance

I don’t know if anyone is checking this blog anymore, but I thought I would post what I intended to a week ago just in case someone is.

I am slowly getting into the swing of things here, but it is an adjustment. Life is different here. It doesn’t seem to get dark until after 9pm. I sit at a desk most of the week in front of a computer. I am back in the pool swimming again. The sky is filled with light pollution and the AC chills most rooms. The list goes on…There are pluses and minuses to each location.

On the plane back from Bénin I was already missing parts of village life, and in response to the question of why I love life I in a small village in West Africa, I wrote the following:

Life can be stressful, everything going wrong, but I can always step outside at night to be awed by a night with no light pollution. I can sit in Martine’s kitchen, I can grab a few kids to play with, and I can tease Felicité about showering. I laugh and I play. There is release—release that is enabled by the purity of the land and the simplicity of the people. I think Africa is in my blood.