Long after my father dies and the kind words of my mother are just memories, the children of Africa will smile and say, “Welcome” and "Bon arrive."
Traveling the planet is an endless search for meaning, and, please, I write these next few words with the hope we can all keep our eyes open, that we are not so jaded that we refuse love, but instead that we learn to count the ways we love, and that we can acccept that we do indeed need love, that we need the love of our mother, father, wife, husband or our children.
In the eyes of children, I see God, but this is not a God that is going to save me, hold me, or grant me everlasting life. The God I see in the eyes of children is pure love. I do not want to be saved. I only need love.
While in Antigua, Guatemala, over 14 years ago, I met a French girl, maybe 24 years of age, walking gleefully along the road. Her name was Joelle. She smiled, looked at me, and we became friends. It was a heavenly calm smile; it was France walking around in Antigua, Guatemala.
Later that year, in Xela, Guatemala, in the Hotel Casa Argentina, I came up on Joelle again, and again she was smiling in glee. We sat in that hotel at night and talked, and we mused about how many languages there were on the planet.
It was heaven; it was travel. This the way travel is, was, and will always be. It is smiles and sharing of new friendship. It was not the smiles and laughs of two countries in that small hotel. She was not France; I was not the USA. We were just two travelers – two humans – talking.
Joelle planted a seed, a thought in my head, as she said, “How long will we travel? We will travel until we know why we travel.”
Now, let me count the ways I love travel. They are endless, but this statement is dangerous to me. It presumes there is an ending.
Today, I know why I travel: It is to count smiles on faces as I enter a new village or town along the way. Travel is like McDonalds, over a billion smiles served, and when I enter a new village, they always say, “Welcome.”
“Special thanks to Joelle Bareyt, from FRANCE, for the inspiration of this page.This page originated in the kitchen at Hostel Casa Argentina in Quetzaltanango, (Xela), Guatemala on July 9, 1999.”
I, or we, I and Joelle, made this page in 1999. This is when the Internet was more about people and less about Google:
This page is 14 years old. (It has been on the Internet 14 years.)
Let me count the ways I love you,
Andy Lee GrahamKara, Togo, 2013
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