A friend's retirement party led me to Seattle, Washington over the Labor Day weekend. Looking at Mount Rainier from 35,000 feet made me miss my Empress more than usual.
I left the airport lost in thought and as I stood on the curb waiting for my ride, I thought about my friends in Tanzania and my hoped for visit to the Maasai Village.
When my Lyft driver rolled up he seemed to jump from the car while the wheels were still moving. He opened my door then put the luggage in the trunk. I don't usually get such service from a ride share company!
He got in and as soon as he spoke I recognized the sound.
"I love your accent, are you by any chance from East Africa?" "Yes, Ma'am, I am from Somalia."
From that moment on the conversation never stopped. We talked about Kilimanjaro, tribal people, and his own experiences with the Maasai.
His unique and charming take on the differences between the United States and East Africa was more than surprising. He kept me entertained all the way to Tacoma.
As I left, I presented him with a copy of the book, Before the Empress (yes I just happened to have an extra copy with me.) He was overwhelmed and so grateful. I told him it was my pleasure, and it truly was (and yes, I also tipped him- quite well I might add.)
As he drove away I felt just a little more connected to my far away home.
Who would have thought that I would find a little bit of my African home on a weekend trip to the Great Northwest? I guess it is true. It is a small world after all.
Michele Mattingly is the author of Before the Empress: Messages from Mount Kilimanjaro.