It’s still there and will always be. I might have washed the Central African Republic off my body but I can’t wash it out of my thoughts. I’ve been home for 3 weeks and it seems like a dream. A sumptuous, intoxicating dream that I find myself falling into at any given moment, day or night.
You see, for two years now my husband and I have been growing our business, Yuhme. Every water bottle donates six months of clean water to Water for Good. Since the beginning, it has been a goal to travel to the CAR and see the impact our Yuhme community is making.
Originally my husband was to travel there first but I started to look at my own reasons as to why I didn’t want to go. Being a mother of 2 children is a big reason but was it enough? Or was my perception of Africa deeply tainted by a media? Richard Klopp (CEO) and Jay Hocking encouraged me to set my fears aside and travel with them to the Central African Republic. I booked my ticket and began counting down the days.
Perception number one dismantled.
As white Europeans, you assume that because a country is poor, it has a low cost of living. Why is that? It’s cheap if you are prepared to live like the indigenous population but the truth is we are not. The importation of our comforts comes at a premium. The 2 bodyguards at my host’s house are proof of this. At 1000, euros ($1,135 USD), they are not cheap. I reflect that I can take my kids to piano lessons, football training and swimming lessons for that kind of money and have change left over.
After a rough first night (my only one I would soon discover), with all my preconceived ideas about Africa, I get whisked off for a morning coffee and pain au chocolat at a cafe in town. I laugh to myself as I envision how jealous my husband would be of me now, here in Africa eating a pain au chocolat. Two of his favorite things combined into one moment. The coffee alone and the downtime with Rich, Jay, and Becky helped me land mentally and feel more connected to those we work with at Water for Good.
With the last sip of coffee still in my mouth, Jay and I prepare for our next adventure, an internal flight to the Sangha Lodge. Jay forgot to mention his aversion to flying and his antidote to conquering this fear, calming pills. As the single-engined, propeller, 7 seater Cessna takes off, everyone is holding their breath. But the flight was magical with just minor turbulence and scenery that will stay with me for as long as I live.
We land in true African Style on a dirt runway in an opening to the rainforest. Within minutes, we met the lodge owner, Rod. He takes us on a bumpy car ride to his beautiful lodge tucked away in the rainforest. It’s from here that Rod, together with his wife, protect pangolins and blue duikers from poachers.
Just before bed, there is a knock on our door.
They found an endangered pangolin! I rush out to meet a mix between an armadillo and a sloth with a very tame and sweet nature. I also witness the feeding of a blue duiker, the second smallest antelope in the world. When the petting zoo came to a close, I retired to bed where I was greeted with what must have been the world’s largest grasshopper dominating my bed. After using the tried and tested shooing technique handed down through the generations, I crept into bed and fell asleep.