Months and visas follow one another. I reach the limit of what is tolerated by the government. I can feel sadness fall over me as I consider leaving. This feeling is shared with the villagers. We talk less, we are thoughtful. We celebrate a farewell party the night before I leave. They tell me that tonight we must go to bed late despite the fact that tomorrow I will have to drive over one thousand kilometres on my own. We dance, we sing. Titi’s suitor asks them to pray for me around the fire. Everyone is silent. We thank each other. I promise to come back.
Before leaving I want to show them how we take one’s leave in my country. I warn Mémé not to be shocked and ask her to let me do as I want. I come near her face and kiss her on both cheeks.
Amazement! Then they start laughing. Physical contacts are rare for the Himba, but I also had to pass some of my traditions on to them.
I drove the thousand kilometres at one go without stopping, thinking all the time of all these shared moments and of this unexpected relationship which was so rich emotionally.
I came back “different”, relaxed, calmed down with a feeling of belonging to one and only people, one and only planet, more alive than ever.