I met up yesterday with a good friend of my father’s who first traveled to Africa thirty years ago. My father would often invite him over to encourage global discussion that might not otherwise happen in Eugene, Oregon.
Turns out that one of his hosts in Nairobi was on my flight back from Mogadishu. All it took was a short description to narrow it down to a choice of two, as there were two older women on the flight, and two younger. I recall noting these two women in turn and wondering what tails they must have to tell after so many years on the road, and what my life might be like if I continue to travel as I have. I probably did the same thing fifteen years ago, as I dreamt of a career as I have. People would tell me that I should travel while I could, because certainly one could not continue to do so. Turns out that it is possible after all.
This morning I headed back to the airport at 4:30 am for a morning flight to Hargeisa, Somaliland. I am used to these flights now. The bonus is no traffic, however the only traffic is suspect, clearly coming from a few late night/ early morning night clubs pouring out folks in the pre-dawn.
I arrive at Java House, African Starbucks, and a must first stop for a double cappuccino. Two Danes that I stayed with in Mogadishu, and flew back together last week, were friendly faces as I surveyed the scene. We sit and have breakfast, my colleague joins us. A woman comes to introduce herself, and I realize that a know her from Zimbabwe a few years back. At the time both of our significant others were in Afghanistan. I wonder if hers is still there, clearly we are both still wondering the globe independent of our spouses.
The reality of this work is that you can’t go far before you bump into someone you know. Take two minutes to chat with anyone and you are bound to find a connection.
Last year on the train platform coming back from Mombasa I met an Indian colleague of a British friend I know from Afghanistan. I bumped into another former colleague in Amsterdam, and two folks who worked for my organization in Mogadishu.
There is a comfort in knowing how small the world is, as we all go in circles from one place to another.
I also personally like that it islas a certain watch dog factor. You know that you are not invisible, and any person you meet cold cross paths again somewhere in the world. You can’t behave badly in one place in the world and not have it catch up with you later. Those who do are certainly watching their backs. Now if I am hiring someone and can’t find a link to someone I know, there is something suspicious. Fortunately the same works in reverse, and your reputation precedes you.
Wherever you go, there you are.