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Chapter Fifty

"What is bringing you to Botswana?"

"I'm part of the Peace Corps."

"Ah, I did not know volunteers were so beautiful."

I smiled at the flight attendant. He smiled, his teeth a handsome contrast to his smooth chocolate skin.

"Thank you."

I turned back to my book. I'd be lying if I said that I hadn't had any relationships since that summer with Shelby and Mason. Yet, they were all quick things. A kiss. A little more, but never too much. Where other girls were jumping in with both feet, I didn't feel rushed.

Something amazing was out there for me. I was going to take my time.


I looked back up. He was still smiling at me. "Excuse me?"

"It means good luck. In Setswana."

"How do you say thank you?"

"For you to me? Ke itumetse, rra."

I strugged to repeat it. He laughed.

"It is close enough," he assured me.

Botswana is a mid-sized country in Africa with just over 2 million people. Even though its politically stable and fairly prosperous for an African nation, the
country is still one of the highest in HIV/AIDs cases.

The average temperature is around 90 degrees. In September the temperature can escalate to well over 100 degrees.

The thermometer in the airport registered 105 degrees as I waited for my bag.

Two other Peace Corps. recruits stood nearby. If memory served correctly, one had been assigned to the education division. The other, a youth minister, was going to work with the kids. He was loaded down with sports equipment and technology.

"This is going to be interesting," the guy said. "I heard most volunteers not in the education or ministry divisions only access the internet about once a month. What are you in?" he asked.

"Health," I replied, taking in the surroundings. I knew that I was going to be shut off. It might have made most people nervous but I was excited.

This was all on me.

We all trekked outside the airport and found a sign with our names on it. The transportation was a Jeep. The heat shocked me for a second. In the airport it had been bad, but outside it was almost intolerable. Our driver just smiled.

"You get used to it."

We were warned that housing would vary but to be prepared to accept the minimum.

I imagined a single room with access to a bathroom and a tiny kitchen.

Electricity and running water was a crapshoot.

The three of us were scattered into three distinctly unique locations. The education volunteer was placed in a two-bedroom cement house with a kitchen and electricity. The youth minister was placed in a one-bedroom cement house. I was the last one to be dropped off.

I was village level. A large compound greeted me. The word rustic was a stretch. A few kids ran back and forth across the packed dirt.

I was glad that I had worn a dress. Not only was it appropriate for the heat, it was also most appropriate for every activity and place I would go.

From my training I knew that daily life was vastly different than the U.S. Patience, self-confidence, creativity, and flexibility were key characteristics they looked for in volunteers. What I was weak in I was cultivating.

"You'll be staying with our host family. They also host our head health expert."

I grabbed my bag. I had packed simple. After all, I didn't need to impress anyone with my appearance. I was going to make a difference by just being me.

"Thank you," I said as I shielded my face with my hand against a rather nasty dust cloud. The guy smiled.

"Good luck."

The jeep roared away and I stepped back.

"So, you are finally ready to save the world. I knew the time was near."

The voice came from the large door of the compound. I whirled around.


He looked just like he had two years ago. His hair was still style in cornrows, held back in a ponytail. His dark brown eyes were steady and patient. His dress shirt was rolled up to his elbows and his dress slacks tapered down at the ankle where his brown loafers finished the job.

"Welcome Alexis."

I wondered if I was hallucinating. I hadn't had an incident since that fateful summer so I had to believe this was real.

"You remember me?"

He smiled. "I could not forget. Mason contacted me about your desire to volunteer. I believe you're just what we need. And, I believe some of my last words to you were Jusqu'à ce que nous nous reverrons. Until we meet again."

"And so we have," I said. Mason. His connection was way more than I had bargained for. Oooohh, the next time I saw him I was going to...

His smile widened.

"The village," he motioned around. "May I show you?" His eyes met mine. He didn't say anything else.

"Oui. Mercy," I said, my mind struggling to remember even a few of the French words I had eagerly tried to learn after our kiss.

That kiss.

He offered his arm. I stepped forward and slid my arm through his. He gently placed his free hand on top of mine and we began to walk at a leisurely pace.

I felt his eyes on me with every word he spoke. Finally, I broke his polite explanations.

"What are the odds?" I laughed. "What are the odds that you and I are here? The last time I saw you I was in a hospital bed and kissing you like a stupid girl."

He just smiled. "Not a stupid girl," he admonished. He stopped, bringing my hand to his lips. "After all..."

Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point...