There were perhaps about 10 of them. I was completely surrounded. I was being bombarded with inquisitiveness. Who was I, where was I from, and what was I doing in their village? I couldn’t understand all their questions, let alone answer them, but they didn’t mind so much as whatever was happening was creating plenty of smiles. These were happy little children; this was a happy little village…
I’ve cycled through hundreds of villages on my journey – mostly I whizz on through, sometimes I’ll make a quick stop to pick up some food or rest for five minutes. Yet just the other night I was struggling to find a space that felt safe to sleep, and so I thought I’d just ask some local people.
That was when the children came along
I was trying to find the Pastor of the local church to see if there was space perhaps to camp near the church. That was when the children came along. They infected me with their joy and wonder. I felt rejuvenated after a long days cycling and grateful to be reminded as to why exactly it is I’m here – yes, that’s it, happiness!
I was lead to the Pastor’s house. The Pastor invited all of us in and my heart melted as my new found friends sat quietly in a row in front of me listening intently to what I was saying to the Pastor. Everyone in the room wanted the Pastor to help me – and so he did by offering to let me sleep in his home that night.
It was all gift
Everyone was happy with that offer and so that was when I found myself carrying children on my shoulders, getting blasted with water from several water pistols, and picking mangoes. I haven’t had so much fun in a long time. Amidst all the fun I got to see their village, their world, and I met some of the older folk who were seemingly equally as happy as their offspring. They weren’t happy just because I was there, they were happy because, I thought to myself, there was real community here. There was togetherness and belonging.
I slept well once all the excitement inside and out had quietened down. I awoke early the next morning and began slowly packing my things. I wanted to bask a little longer in this happy little village. But after bidding my farewells and giving a few gifts I left and, well, that was that.
I am often amazed at the places the bicycle takes me, unexpected places, peculiar places, magical places…places the books will never tell you to stop at, places you might not even think to look twice at. Often they are the best stops…