Archive for July 9, 2010

Have Sleeping Bag—will travel.

July 9, 2010 1 comment

Is it crazy that after 21 years of living the one thing that surprises me the most is simple human kindness? Is it strange that the kindness of strangers is what makes me smile harder then I have ever smiled before?

Two nights ago, I took a journey. From Solwezi to Kabompo, a seven hour trip. Most of it unpaved.

We left too late, the sun was sinking low into the sky—it sets quickly here.  We couldn’t leave earlier because the police were at a checkpoint, and we were carrying too many passengers on the back.

Don’t tell anyone, but I was one of those passengers.

The young woman with the baby took the place in the cab. Clearly.

I had my sleeping bag and every piece of clothing I was currently carrying on me. It is cold in Zambia. I am sitting beside an older man. He has nestled himself into a crevice in the back, we are sitting on his floor tiles. He has traveled this route before.

The journey is long, it is also a little scary. I understand now why Mark told me to think of my safety the last time I tried to get into the back of a canter. I understand perfectly.

But Mark, where is the adventure? I am smiling as I write this, because one day he will read this and shake his head.

I am on the edge, not so close that it is dangerous. There is Rowland, a co-worker on the right. He is suffering; it is cold at this time of night and the sleeping bag is only half covering him.

I try to play the glad game, “I am glad…it isn’t raining, I am glad…I have the sleeping bag, I am glad…I have a cozy bed to crawl into when I get back to “the ‘bomp”, I am glad…I can’t feel my toes, I am glad….to look at these stars” Rowland tires of my game pretty quickly, I don’t blame him.

I try to stay positive, I chat with the people beside me, but soon it is too cold to even interact. Everyone just wants to keep their hot air inside of them.

I am tired and frustrated, it is cold and I am wishing I wasn’t there. I am losing the happiness I try to constantly maintain.

Around hour five, into the wee hours of the morning. I wake up to find hands around my ankles and a firm grasp at my back. Everyone is lying down, in various stages of sleep. Everyone is uncomfortable, but everyone is watching out for me. Everyone is watching out for each other. We all get as close as possible to keep the heat around us. The man sitting beside me holds on to my sleeping bag tight for fear I will fall off the edge, (don’t worry mum, I was secure) If one person says “I need more room” everyone moves, every person shifts, all of those little movements make a big difference to that one person. We have become a team, a family. I can’t help but smile and think how incredibly beautiful life is. How humans care, and don’t even think twice about it.  Suddenly, I am filled with an overwhelming feeling of wonder and joy–my body feels a little warmer.

I have never experienced such camaraderie as I did in the back of that truck, when we finally arrive at 3 am, I say goodbye and promise to say hello next time I am in the market walking past my new friends at the tile flooring shop.

Do we experience such kindness in Canada? I know that we do, I know that I have. Where you can be in the worst of situations but all of a sudden you are reminded of the complete and utter amazingness that is human nature.

What if everyone could just shift a little closer, all of those tiny little movements making a big difference in the comfort of others?

Yikes, humans are amazing.  I hope that wherever you are reading this you think back to a time when there was so much joy radiating through your body that you could hardly stand it!

Signing off,

The luckiest girl in the world

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