A. A simple experience. My night in Tiebele, Burkina Faso, stands out as the first time I stayed in a village. I had a local guy, Arnoud, taking care of things. When I arrived he set me up to sleep on the roof of his brothers mud brick hut. I asked him where the toilet was and he made a grand gesture over the adjoining paddock and said ‘toilet naturale’. That evening I had a bucket and cup shower under the stars (there was no electricity there). Arnoud’s Great Grandmother, Grandmother, Mother, Wife, and baby daughter sat a few meters away on the other side of a divider preparing dinner in pitch black while talking and laughing. Later that night I asked Arnoud, who said he was a DJ, if there was a party on. It was a Sunday and there wasn’t. We went to the club anyway and he brought out some beers. I asked what else he had – to which he replied Rum by the bottle. I was a little budget conscious as the last place I had spirits in a bottle was Las Vegas and it was $800. Turns out table service in Tiebele is only $5. He rallied up some friends and we partied all night. In spite of my terrible French and his limited English we had a great time and are still in touch.
B. I’ve been fortunate to visit stunning places when no one else was there. I’ve sat alone in El Jam, had Angel Falls to myself, Meroe, Virunga, Socotra, Djenne, the list goes on. When I visited Athens and was almost bludgeoned to death by all the selfie sticks (with ipads!) flying around my head I was initially scornful of the throngs of tourists. However I think all of us (nomadmania types) need to appreciate that for many people having a photo in Parthenon may be the trip of a lifetime due to their personal circumstances. Having an entire UNESCO site or Natural Wonder of the World to oneself is an extraordinary privilege.