Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Stolen Children of Guinea Bissau - The Journey home 2012

I'm home!

And I am happy and so grateful to have been able to visit my ancestral homeland. It was an experience that touched me in ways I cannot explain and left me with a sense of wholeness for the first time in my life.

I have to take time before I begin my recap, to thank my hosts in Senegal, Idy Sow and Moussa Sall, and their families. They opened their home to us and were the guides that became our friends and without them our trip would not have been the same.

Also many, many thanks to our hosts in Guinea Bissau, Maritza, Freddy, Raquel, Flavia, Juan, Lucas and a host of people from the many villages we visited.

Also a big thanks to Rashida and my new family, the Djalo's, who welcomed me so kindly into their family.

And last but never least, my thanks to Randii and Willie who shared this wonderful journey with me. I know they feel the same sense of completion as I do.

During the trip I kept a daily diary of our journey. Over the next couple of weeks I will share our experiences here along with pictures and videos. I hope you will stop by and share the journey.
clothes hanging on the line after being treated with Permethrin to kill mosquitoes and insects

                                                       The Journey Begins
This is the story of 3 DNA traced descendants of Guinea Bissau who meet as strangers in America for a 10-day journey to Africa to visit their ancestral homeland. Our return marks an historic event for the country of Guinea Bissau. We also wanted to do something for the people as Guinea Bissau is the 4th poorest country in the world so we put together a project called "It Takes A Village". We could not have imagined the joy that we would bring to the remote little village of Djati, Guinea Bissau.
Thurs 2/16/12
Day one
I decided to fly into DC a day early to break up the flight to Africa so I was up very late packing last night. Had to arrange and rearrange my luggage and try to figure out which electrical converters to bring for my electronics -  as well as figure out how to set combinations for my new TSA locks.  Decided to wait until today to resolve these issues.  Ended up bringing all the converters because we couldn't figure out which one worked in Africa and we ruined one of the luggage locks getting it stuck on an unknown combination so I ended up setting the other two to zero (hoping the Thieves won't figure that out).

At the airport I had to go through the full service line at Virgin America even though I did online check in - to pay for luggage.  Virgin America charges $25/bag (I brought 2. One for my clothes and the other filled with goodies for the children in Guinea Bissau).  After paying for my bags I proceeded to the security check point. Got through security quickly and guess what??? They did not choose me for the random love pat down (a first).  This could be the start of something grand!! About 15 minutes after I arrived at my gate, and we boarded our flight.  I really like Virgin, the planes are new and have a contemporary feel and also partly because they have TV and I can watch MSNBC and feel just like I'm at home. I ordered my sandwich, set up my Wifi ($14.95 ) and I've been happily emailing and checking Facebook.

This morning I also received an update re my naming ceremony.  Rashida (now my sis) told me that for my renaming I needed a traditional dress and that they would get me fabric in Guinea Bissau.  She said a dress would be made for me and asked for my measurements.  Later I received this picture showing a sample of the material. I think they did a great job of picking colors!

My new name will be, Nenegale Djalo (mother of the house) more on that later.  Anyway, I am very pleased.  I await a picture showing the style of the dress.

Oh, and wouldn't you know it - I forgot my camera cable so I won't be able to upload any photos on this trip unless I can find a cable in DC tomorrow.   Always something!

Randii and I meeting for 1st time
About 5 hours later I arrived safely in DC on time. Took the free shuttle to the Hyatt Hotel and checked into my room. The Hyatt Dulles is a very nice hotel and is very close to the airport. I had not yet met Randii so I phoned her and we met in the hotel lobby. After a drink (actually I had 2 margaritas - she does not drink - and some clams) we were happily chatting like old friends. We ended the evening and decided to meet in the morning for breakfast before departing to the airport for our flight to Africa.

****UPDATE NOTE added10/11/13- For those of you beginning here. If you want to continue following my journey to Africa, please click on newer post - Journey goes from 2/28/12 - 3/15/12

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