We sat around in the Boma having dinner under the open sky in the bush. Boma translates to being fenced up, dating back to the 18th century where locals would fence up their homes and livestock with sticks. These days, a Boma dinner is outdoor dining at its best. The traditional Boma is set up enclosing guests to dine under the glittering African sky.
Back to the dinner, there was something in the air that night as our group of strangers shared personal stories. We’d just come back from our evening Safari drive and were still in awe of our collective ‘look up’ moment at the end of that night’s drive. We came from all over the world: Germany, Nigeria, Mexico, France, and the United States. In honor of Valentine’s Day I’ll share this story from Marco & Carla (not real names)…a favorite of mine.
Marco and Carla were the first guests I met at the Safari Lodge. In observing them with each other, I noticed that they were gentle, attentive, thoughtful, and playful. While we drove into the bush earlier in the evening, it was just us three so we bonded a little bit before dinner. Marco, a restaurateur, shared stories about mishaps at his restaurant. Carla, a screenwriter but I don’t remember the name of her shows, talked about creativity and some crazy personal experiences with the drug cartels in Mexico city. They had the best safari hats I’d seen like these matching cool brown leather hats. They also shared that they were on an anniversary trip but it was not until dinnertime that we got to know a little more about their story.
Carla and Marco met by chance at his restaurant. Carla’d been married before and it didn’t work out so she wasn’t keen on any relationships. She was focused on her career and kids. As life/love happens and takes one by surprise, they got on well. So much so they got MARRIED in Las Vegas ONE MONTH after they’d been dating. Marco paused for the shock factor as they relayed this part of their story and yes our eyes popped.
They both come from strong catholic Mexican families that would frown at their seemingly impulsive decision/elopement. (I can totally see this is my mind, Telenovela style). So, they kept their marriage a secret. Then on their six-month dating anniversary, they staged an engagement and then on the one year anniversary flew to Vegas for their ‘wedding.’ The best part: to this day, their families have no clue about all this. At the time, it was their second anniversary (but to their family it was only the first).
As the logs crackled at the center of the Boma, and the stars shone above, our glasses were refilled (with South African wine). We raised our glasses one more time to Carla and Marco, and all of their anniversaries, secret and not-so-secret, present and future! It was the perfect night, one where strangers let their guards down and shared freely. No judgment, no agenda, just being in the moment.
We need more of those kinds of nights and yes, great stories will be icing on the cake! What is it that makes you let your guard down? Do you find yourself doing this more with strangers or only with your circle of trust?
P.S. If Heels Could Talk… Stories from the road are quarterly stories from my previous travels. These are the stories my feet would tell. See the first one here where I shared about leaving a friend at the airport in Peru, second here on traveling to Bolivia without a visa (stupid or brave, you tell me ), and the third here about getting into a ‘hostage situation’ in Copenhagen.
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Happy Valentine’s Week!