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Why do we travel? Meeting people  

A business trip in the west of Kenya. We stop for gas and get into conversation with some of those who work at the station. We are a black educated Kenyan, an Indian Kenyan businessman and an white American. They are the poor and ordinary citizens of Kenya. They want a photo, I oblige. "Send us a copy." I agree. That's part of the ritual. They ask for one, knowing you will not likely send it, you agree, but have no intention of following through.

I did get their address and sent the station attendant a print some weeks later. He wrote back with his thanks. I got a photo, a memory, and a connection. I don't know what you see when you look at this photo, but it is one of my all time favorites. In some part of my mind, I will return to that gas station and find them all still there, unchanged after twenty years.

These connections we make when traveling are the armor against the propaganda and stereotypes of the world. We can't subscribe to what "those people" are like, because we met one or two of them and know that they are not like that. Between the three of us and them there were enough stereotypes to sink a nation and start a dozen wars. But we met, and all of us found evidence that good will, a little effort to be friendly and a camera is more powerful.

Last modified 10/7/12; posted 12/28/03; original content © 2012, 2003 John P. Nordin