“It’s a dangerous business—going out your door,” someone once said to me. But maybe that person didn’t have a ukulele like I do.
I named my uke “Strad” (diminutive of Stradivarius), thanks to a totally unscripted interaction in Vienna when I insisted upon its gentle handling while declaring that I had an appointment with the Vienna Philharmonic that evening. Strad has gotten me through doors in countries as diverse as Kenya, Tajikistan, the Republic of Georgia, and so many others.
Northwest Africa’s Mauritania often struck me as a true fly-over state, when I flew over it on my way home from greener parts of the continent. Despite my interest in people and places, from the cockpit of the private aviation planes I pilot, nothing I could see down below in Mauritania attracted me. Rather, looking below, I was all the more glad for sufficient fuel on board to continue to Western Sahara or Morocco or maybe even the Canary Islands. Every time I crossed it, the country tidily became an uncompelling memory as soon as I exited Mauritanian airspace.
But that all changed after it became one of my destinations.