I retreated back through the pitch black to a safe spot where I could join a team that was exiting the cave. What a decision that turned out to be. Without that very inflexible, super tight, still swollen and not just a little sore tendon - I never would have met Francisco and Hobe from Angola. If my tendon had been in better shape, I would never have been sitting on that rock in the half light and would have never heard Hobe's prayer of thanks. Sometimes timing is EVERYTHING!
However - if you believe it and you embrace it and you live your life by it I have the utmost respect for your beliefs and a huge admiration for your commitment to a cause you can't see or prove. I always love hearing the call to prayer in Muslim countries. I love the sound but mostly I admire anyone who will drop what they are doing, head to their church, wash and pray not just once, but 5 times a day. To me commitment to anything is sadly lacking in our world and anyone that shows that level of commitment has my respect.
Back to Hobe...
I was sitting on my rock and heard their group coming back up the path. The first thing that hit me was the amazing lilting African accent. I can't pick the accent any of those African countries from each other but they mesmerize me. They always seem to be happy and the accent almost seems to be laughing each word. I can't explain it but I've always loved it. So I'm sitting there ready to tack on to the end of their group (they have a light - I don't) when they all gather and Hobe says a prayer. A more beautiful prayer than I had ever heard. So moving but so lacking in drama. He thanked his god for keeping them safe, for the opportunity to see such a wondrous phenomenon, for creating this amazing cave and for guiding their steps to safety. Seems like nothing hey, but in that amazing accent in the semi dark in the silence it was truly amazing. I loved every second of it.
I really felt bad to intrude so I waited until they all headed out and then silently tacked on to the end to make our way back out of the cave.
I headed to the cafe and Ice Tea in hand went and sat on the bench out the front to wait for the boys. After about 10 minutes this very cute, but very tall young man asked if he could join me. This was Francisco and he was from Angola. We chatted for about an hour about all sorts of things and I was very much enjoying his company. Unfortunately a van pulled up and Hobe, Francisco and their friends said they had to go. Before he left, Francisco called Hobe over and asked if they could say a prayer with me. I almost said no. I really almost did. I just felt that I would be making a mockery of their beliefs if I didn't tell them that I didn't share the same ideals. I don't know what stopped me, maybe I just didn't want to upset them, but I agreed that would be lovely. If I thought I'd never heard a more amazing prayer an hour before this one left me with tears streaming down my cheeks and I'm not ashamed to say that.
These two lovely young men who I knew for an hour were genuinely asking their god to protect me, to keep me safe and to help me to overcome any and all obstacles I would face on my journey. I could give two shits that they were asking their god for that but the most powerful thing in the whole situation was that they really wished it themselves. They were genuinely concerned about my well being as a woman on the road alone and their support, while not in a format I believe in was unwavering. Some people can restore you faith in humanity and Francisco and Hobe did that for me. They cared and at the end of the day that's all any of us really want.
I think of you guys often and know that you will both live a happy and successful life. How could you not with that outlook.