I whole-heartedly live by the belief that everything happens, not for a reason, but with cause and effect. If everything happened for a reason, that would entail our fate being set in stone, and I don’t follow that notion. I like to think we have many fates, driven by the choices we make from the opportunities laid out in front of us. Another door opens because of past doors we unlocked ourselves. Different doors open because of the different first steps we took in a new direction days, years, or minutes ago.
This weekend I went to a small beach town by the name of Kribi. I was originally set on going to a further beach called Limbe with a separate group of people, but I changed my mind the morning before we left. I had many logical reasons for my quick change in plans, but mostly it came down to following my gut. Something I have been ignoring lately (in relation to bigger decisions, not food; always follow your gut with food), and replacing with the urge to please the people around me. I felt extremely guilty not following through with my original plans for Limbe, but my original fellow travellers were extremely understanding. So, off I went with a bus full of teachers to Kribi – me, myself, and my gut (relieved by my decision, still suffering from anything I put in it).
On the way there and on the return, we were stopped more than once by the Gendarmes (kind of like police) who pretty much made up reasons to give us tickets. The first was a speeding ticket. The second was.. well, silly really. A young man in army pants, a matching jacket, and a large gun over his shoulder, marched confidently onto the bus and immediately started speaking french. We acted, what one of my coworkers referred to as, “happy and dumb”. Everyone played the english card, pretending none of us knew french (at least three of us could easily understand what he was frantically explaining about a ticket). After the Gendarmes played charades for ten minutes, he asked for all of our documentation (passports). This was obviously an attempt to fine us more money since we said we were with the American Embassy and I clearly had a Canadian passport that went unnoticed. He then returned to charades and gestured he was fining us 50,000 XFA (about $100) for having our luggage in the back seat, where a person is meant to sit. This is when the same coworker who coined the term “happy and dumb” stood up, went to the back of the bus, threw all the bags from the backseats into the isle, and went “Thank you SOOO much sir! We truly are thankful. Look, now we are all safe! Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Note that this was one of the colleagues who understood french and was the first to say “Only english, sorry.” The Gendarmes, confused and giving up, marched off the bus, our driver gave him 2,000 XFA ($4) and we were on our way.
Besides the drive, Kribi really was a much needed break. Although I couldn’t, and therefore didn’t, lay on the beach in peace much (I had one man come up to me and ask if I was going to swim, then asked if we could swim together), it was a wonderful experience. People don’t lie when they say the ocean is healing. The highlight of the trip was learning how to body surf waves and the sunset seafood dinner we had on the beach our last night. The Atlantic ocean here is much different than in Nova Scotia. The waters are warm and the salt isn’t concentrated enough to sting the eyes.
Kribi was a gut reaction. I had three doors waiting for me that weekend: Limbe, Kribi, or stay in bed. Limbe turned into a choice I would have made to please others, Kribi was what I felt I needed, and to stay home was something I wanted because it was easy, but knew it would destroy me mentally. These doors would not have existed without the decision to open the “Africa door” back in January. I am still trying to figure out what kind of door that was. I know for a fact it wasn’t a gut choice. The gut said no. There’s cause for me to believe I pushed myself for good reason and (considering the people I have met), resulting in great effects. There’s also reasons for me to believe I solely opened the door based on the expectations of others and, in turn, what I convinced myself was “best for me”, despite the screaming intuition to wait for another door to appear. Taking this all in and remembering no fate is set in stone. There are still doors to be opened, wherever I end up.
All my heart,