Preparation

He was a cross between Mark’s boss and Richard Branson. He was our contact, our host, and our leader for the work in Africa.

There was a lot of packing. One bag for books — didn’t even zip — this was for advance loading on the train. Another container — a whole room at times, other times something smaller — held a sewing machine and innumerable other things tightly and carefully arranged. I bought bananas — to make banana bread? And foolishly chose very ripe ones, which would be fine if making the bread that day, but not so great for bananas to be packed up and shipped to the Africa work. Mark chose a better one — which was suspiciously pumpkin-shaped.

Finding our host’s home was challenging. Did we arrive in the middle of the night and have to find our own rooms? I remember finding the extra pillows and telling Mark about them.

Breakfast was provided at the house — in a kitchen with a long serving bar — there was one section of all kinds of pulled meat — the usual beef, pork, chicken, plus pulled lobster (!). Several Asian fusion sorts of things.

Supposedly on our way to our train, our host instead took us to some ridiculously fancy restaurant. We had already eaten dinner (at another one, I think), so I didn’t really want anything. Accepted the waiter’s offer of some cheese. He brought a tray full of cheese slices individually wrapped in silk napkins. The slice I chose and started nibbling had a $5 sticker at the bottom. I could not believe I had just bought a paper-thin slice of $5 cheese. I was also very nervous that we were dawdling at this restaurant instead of going to get the train — would we miss it?

For whatever reason, I had to drive myself to several places. I made wrong turns. And where I was supposed to turn left, at a light, all I could see in the darkness was a short turnoff that seemed to suddenly turn and descend out of sight like a tall playground slide. It seemed far too narrow and far too delicate for a car. There was a sign but I couldn’t read it. I didn’t turn, but kept going, looking for another left — the next was the same way. Skipped it, too. The road began to spiral down… and I did end up back at the host’s home eventually.

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