Papaya Clarity

I’m eating some remarkably ripe, bright orange papaya at the breakfast table with the group when I hear “Did you hear the news?” over my laptop.

I was busy typing away “Circumstances Surrounding My Writing from Here On Out That Kind of Makes This Less A Travel Blog and More Of I Don’t Know Something Else We’ll Talk About That Later” and I didn’t look up when I asked, distantly “What happened?”

“There was a terrorist attack yesterday at the airport we were supposed to be at.”

I forgot about running up to get my malaria pills. I forgot everything. “What?!”

I stopped typing right after point 3, after writing about the malaria pills. Janet nodded over her coffee.

“There was a bombing at the international airport in Istanbul. We usually fly Turkish airlines, it was chance we flew KLM. 3 suicide bombers, 36 dead. It was right when we would have arrived there, it could have easily been us.”

And I sat at the breakfast table, simultaneously numb and acutely aware of the ripeness of the next bite of papaya I took. And I was simultaneously numb and acutely aware as the conversation quickly turned toward where we were going next.

Remember how I wrote “There’s no time for ego”? There’s no time to rant about gratitude before I hit “post”. It’s 7:48, after all, and we have to organize the donations before we take off for 3 of our co-ops. Which you can’t pronounce. Which I can’t pronounce. Which are called Murindi, Cokawi, and Abadacogora.

I realize you don’t really know what a Co-op is, huh? I just asked Danna (the professional traveler who’s been here twice before) how she would explain it. She said:
“I guess I’d say… it’s people that gathered together after the genocide, a group of people with a similar identities and similar struggles… for instance, the first one we’re visiting today [Cokawi] are all former sex workers living with AIDS. They contribute their resources and work together to their benefit. It’s a business—you have to join. You have to commit with time and money. It’s not like a village, where just because you live nearby you’re apart of it.”

So to my understanding, it’s a little bit like being in a fraternity or sorority…

If they included men, women, and children.

And it was after a genocide.

And they lived and worked together for survival.

And there were no parties.

And they were in Africa.

It’s 7:59 and I have to go.

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