This post is going to be thin on words. I’m in the hole at least 3 blog posts, and I have a lot I want to say about scooter trips, including an upcoming February trip to Bissau. So “Bintou and Dre do America” is going to be very visual. And by visual I mean a boatload of pictures of Andre.
Flashback to October. Bintou had her visa, Andre had his passport and everyone had a plane ticket. Now we could focus on the 24-hour, multi-flight itinerary from Bamako to Cleveland via Paris and Atlanta. All things considered, Andre put on an award-winning performance on the plane.
Bintou and I were dreading the 9 hour flight from Paris to Atlanta, but Andre must have blown off enough just enough steam in Charles de Gaulle. While he occasionally yanked the weave of the woman sitting in front of us, he spent most of the flight sleeping or watching a singing beaver that Bintou has on her tablet. We never even had to consider the thought of dosing him with bourbon or children’s Benadryl (we would never do that).
At the end of all that flying, Andre was not impressed with this thing called a car seat that he had never before seen in his life. He cried all the way to grand-mere’s apartment, and then he cried a lot more inside the apartment, and suddenly this whole trip to America idea seemed quite foolish. But eventually he stopped crying and realized that things weren’t so bad. After that initial meltdown, he hardly shed a tear for the rest of our 3-week trip.
We had a great visit with family and friends in Ohio, and we even made it to South Bend to see some good friends from Mali. My mom was incredibly generous, letting us take over her apartment and use her car. On the tail end of the trip, we had two days in New York City to visit friends and blow Bintou’s mind.
Andre in his new bathrobe
Loving life on the shores of Lake Erie
We put the mattress on the floor and turned the whole living room into a bed
I promise it was empty
On the hay ride in rural Ohio with my sister
Andre had never before seen fresh broccoli
In Bamako, we get the frozen florets
Dancing at the Cleveland Zoo
Bintou and I probably deserve to get locked up for child abuse for everything we put Andre through around Halloween
He was a good sport, though
Andre and his “cousin” Lailah, the daughter of Ben and Amy, two good friends of mine who came to Cleveland to spend a weekend with us.
Amy took this great photo of Andre with Lailah and Judah. Andre hit the wall with his elephant costume around this time.
Visiting some real elephants
Getting ready for the cold
Helping grand-mere sweep hay
Had to do it
Reluctant kiss for mama
Andre’s first birthday party at grand-pere’s house
Visiting my uncle in New York City
Andre getting ready to prepare dinner
Just putting a skull together at the Natural History Museum
Those were my pajamas when I was Andre’s age. My mom is a serious pack rat, but it paid off 30 years later.
Star Wars pinball machine
I don’t know which costume Andre despised more, the elephant or the rasta.
Furtive phone call in the car
Yep, we did that in Times Square
He did not want to leave the ice skating rink at Bryant Park
Putting Andre in a bubble in Central Park
Andre and Bintou on the train
Andre in his toucan shirt that was also once mine
On the drive to Indiana
And that’s my hat!
Andre clapping and dancing on his birthday
I was seriously anxious before our trip. I was worried Bintou would be homesick and that Andre would struggle to adjust as well. I was worried about the divisive politics and the empowerment of racists and bigots since Trump’s election. I was worried about the weather being too cold. But other than one woman in a grocery store in Ohio who glared at us as if our family’s existence was a sin, the trip couldn’t have gone much better. We are incredibly grateful for all of our friends and family that spent time with us and spoiled Andre to no end. If all goes well, we will be back for a visit next year, when the weather’s a bit warmer.
Up next: our first scooter trip with clients and our next open group trip to Bissau for Carnival! If you want a heads up on the details for our upcoming trips, sign up to our email list with this form: