Some of my students at camp.
Photo Credit: Rachel Durik
Five years ago my friend Rachel and I got randomly connected via a web of mom blogs. It started out casual, then she taught me how to use my camera, then we talked more and more, then we talked about all sorts of things, then she became one of my "people"- one of the people I'd talk to when I was frustrated/happy/in need of advice.
We watched our babies grow together, always from a distance, but just a Facebook message or text away. When she decided to homeschool, I was there to reassure her that she could do it (and now she rocks it) and when I blogged recipes, she tried them. She really tried some of them.
She was one of those friends I could talk about anything with. When I went to Zambia in 2010, she didn't just encourage me, she sent a camera. Also, I really like her.
When I decided to take this trip, I was a last-minute add-on. No sooner had I committed than I found myself texting Rachel from my kitchen, throwing out the idea that she join us. She was on board within a day or two.
So if you're piecing this together, you'd be thinking correctly that Rachel decided to come to Zambia with me before we'd ever met in person or even talked on the phone. Africa. With a dear friend/all intents and purposes perfect stranger. But if you understand blog relationships, you know. If you don't understand, I'm sorry. One thousand insubstantial Internet encounters may fall away, but sometimes you do find a really, really good friend that lasts.
Photo Credit: Anna Bartscher
We met in Amsterdam, in an airport. It was not epic. It was more stressful than anything, hoping her connection would get her there in time (it did.) We had an out of this world view of Europe and Africa from our adjoining airplane seats, where we talked for nearly the entire flight, just, you know, like no big deal. That night we arrived in Lusaka late, and shared a bed in a fantastic, Africa-classic hotel room.
I've only met friends from the Internet twice. Rachel, and my friend Anne. Both first-time meetings culminated in us sharing a bed. That's the way I roll, I guess. Rachel was kind enough to make me this for my birthday,
Thanks for that.
We did, indeed, do Zambia together, and did it well. Things we did: ran around like children on summer holiday chasing good light, savored everything Zambia and its people had to offer, had long talks, saw people get delivered from spiritual oppression, nearly got charged by an elephant, shared late night carbs and fat (thank you for sharing your secret snacks, Rachel- you are a true friend.)
One of the best parts of this trip, one of the things I most looked forward to, was sharing Zambia's beauty with Rachel, bringing another light-loving photographer along for the ride. I couldn't wait, and Zambia delivered. All that beautiful light, all those perfect faces. Over and over again I enjoyed the fellowship that only two photographers can have on a trip like this, faced with so much raw, natural beauty, so much untarnished reality. Also, sometimes I was in a picture for once (thank you for that, too.)
Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming to Zambia with me, Rachel, and thank you for deciding to remain my friend now that it's all over. That means a lot. You're the kind of friend I'd like to keep around.