“Abroad is the place where we stay up late, follow impulse and find ourselves as wide open as when we are in love. We live without a past or a future, for a moment at least, and are ourselves up for grabs and open to interpretation. We even may become mysterious – to others, at first, and sometimes to ourselves” – Pico Iyer, Salon
Standing in the calm of that warm shallow lake, my feet sinking beneath its soft sand, I had to admire exactly where I was. Just outside the bustling city of smog and dust, weathered “roads”, crumbling concrete infrastructure and mud-walled homes with rusty tin rooftops was a quiet serene lake surrounded by tropical mountains. Free from the threat of Crocodiles, there was no better place to contemplate life than the shores of Ghana’s Lake Bosomtwe.
That Sunday we took a break and walked the banks of the lake. We talked among each other and then other times just stood or sat in silence. The tranquil water felt soothing against the balmy air. Small lizards scattered around the rocks doing push-ups, turning their heads from side to side.
I thought about the taxi ride to the lake and just the danger in that alone. Every bit of Africa was a thrill, even the simple things. America offers familiarity, relative safety and of course, luxuries and comforts. Africa doesn’t have those things but instead it offers rich community, genuine adventure, and a place for impoverished westerners (who are sometimes the wealthiest people in their home countries) a place to have their false perspectives flipped, where they see life through a new, enlightened lens.
As I thought about these things standing in that peaceful water, I was reminded of how very poor I truly am. The despair of the ‘privileged.’ Yes, I just so happen to be white and born in America. A “privileged” person, this I know. But there’s a sadness that follows after one sees from a perspective only Africa can reveal. Suddenly being rich in what truly matters in life becomes the real privilege. And you, the visitor, get to experience that, but only the shallows, never the deep.