Ghana, West Africa
"...I unloaded my things, put on my swimsuit & headed to the coast/beach to swim. I went expecting to really dive in & swim but didn't. I mostly just stood where I had sure footing & let the waves hit me. The under current was too strong & the riptide too dangerous to go swimming. Along the way I befriended Richard & he watched my stuff, smoked pot, listened to music through his headphones, while I played in the VERY salty ocean."
At the end of very long and very hot day in Ghana I was ready to relax. I dropped my stuff off at a small hotel and ran to the beach. I had a few things I dropped in the sand but couldn't go too far into the water without worrying about my stuff. And that was when I met Richard. I kept coming out of the water to check on my things and after the 3rd time or so he told me he would keep an eye on my stuff. Honestly, I didn't know if I would see my stuff again but I trusted him and ran off into the water.
After a long time of playing in the ocean I came back for my things. There was Richard just kickin' it, smoking pot, listening to his tunes, and keeping an eye on my stuff. I gathered my stuff, thanked him, and started to walk back to my hostel. Richard started walking with me. He asked if he could buy me a drink. I politely refused. He asked why. I said I don't drink and he couldn't believe it. He asked me if I smoke, gesturing to share his joint. I said no. He threw it on the ground and smashed it.
Then he asked me all sorts of questions about why I don't drink or smoke. We talked about my beliefs for a bit and he continued to walk with me. I told him he didn't need to walk me all the way but he insisted. I asked him about his family and he told me they were all dead—that he was alone in the world. He said he makes and sells things on the street to live but that he makes good money and not to worry about him. He told me that "Life is good, God is great, and all my needs are taken care of." Even though he was completely high I couldn't help but smile at his faith. When I inquired more about his family he told me he didn't want to talk about such dark things. "Some things are better left in the past."
After walking a bit more he asked if he could come up to my room. I, wanting to understand his intentions, asked, "Why?". He laughed this jolly big laugh that filled the air around us. I'll never forget his crooked smile when he said, "Let me guess you don't do that either?" I laughed with him and said no. He was very polite and respectful and asked more questions about my beliefs. We sat on a random curb and shared beliefs.
He shared that he thought life was better when he was high because he didn't have to feel pain or joy because they were mirrors of each other. He liked to stay safe and somewhere in the middle. I shared with him my feelings about touring the slave castles earlier that day. It got dark and I was tired so I said goodbye to my new friend Richard. He handed me a bracelet he had made and told me it was free. I thanked him again and he walked away.
Thank you Richard for watching my stuff on the beach. Thank you for the bracelet. Thank you for your kindness and open heart. Thank you for sharing some of your story. But mostly, thank you for reminding me that, "Life is good, God is great, and all my needs are taken care of."