He was a widower with no children and lived on a ranch. Every morning before he drove into the city to the manufacturing company he founded, he donned his favorite black hat, pulled on a shirt and pair of jeans, a denim jacket, complete with a pair of Exotic Natural Python Pointed Toe Cowboy Boots and off he went galloping off in the Texan hill countryside.
After returning to the ranch and putting the horse in the stables, he would stand and survey the land, thinking how lucky he was to own it before heading into the sprawling ranch home to shower and get dressed in a suit. Life was good–laid back, not complications. That was until he went to Gambia.
He loved traveling to Africa but had never been to Gambia before. His secretary, Wanda encouraged him to go, “My husband and I went there three years ago and loved it and the people. We hope to visit again. There is so much to see like Abuko Nature Reserve, Bijilo Forest Park, or Monkey Park, Brufut Beach and the Kachikally Crocodile Pool just to mention a few. Believe me, it will be an experience you won’t forget. Would you like me to go ahead and make the reservations?”
He grinned. “Sure, Wanda.”
And here he was, several weeks later, in the capital city of Banjul, standing on the terrace of his hotel suite, looking out, anxious to explore the place and see the sights. He was there for three weeks.
He met her on the first night. It was after dinner and he decided to go to the bar instead of heading up to his room. At first he didn’t notice her but after he ordered his drink and looked around the place which was not as crowded, his eyes fell on her. She was looking at him. From where he sat, she was very pretty and looked to be in her late twenties. Was she also a guest at the hotel or was she here to meet someone?
After the bartender placed his drink in front of him and he paid for it, he turned to look at the young woman again, wondering if he should join her. Did he really want to complicate his life right now? Since losing Marianne six years ago, he hadn’t dated nor being a relationship and he preferred it that way. He liked the way his life was now. He traveled whenever he felt the urge and enjoyed evenings of solitude. He had good books and music to occupy his time.
Friends and family invited him to parties and social events but he most of the time, he declined, preferring to go for a ride or a drive or a swim in his own private pool or just to relax on the patio and watch as splashes of color filled the expanse of the sky in the evenings at sunset.
Still, he couldn’t deny that he was intrigued by this woman who was still staring at him. Taking up his glass, he walked past the few stools which separated them and sat down on the one beside her. This close she was stunning. “Hello,” he said.
“Are you meeting any one?” He had to get that out of the way first because the last thing he wanted was for some guy to show up and there was an exchange of words or even an altercation because he was talking to her.
“No. Are you?”
“No. I don’t know anyone here. This is my first visit to Banjul.”
“Are you here on business?”
“No. I’m on vacation. Are you staying at this hotel too?”
“Yes. I’m here on vacation too.”
“Where are you from?”
“Maryland. And you?”
She smiled. “I thought I detected a southern accent.”
“Yep. I grew up and have lived in Texas all my life.”
“I have family in Houston but I’ve never been there. Maybe one of these days, I will find my way there.”
“Houston is nice. You’ll like it. How long are you here in Banjul?”
“Two weeks. What about you?”
“I’m here for three weeks. By the way, what’s your name?”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Danita. My name’s Jackson but every one calls me Jack.”
She smiled as they shook hands. “I like the name Jackson.”
“I guess my Dad liked it too because he named me. Danita, are you doing anything tomorrow?”
“I was thinking of going to Abuko Nature Reserve.”
“Me too. Why don’t we go together?”
“I would like that.”
“Great.” They chatted for hours and then, they retired for the night after arranging to meet and have breakfast together.
The following morning, they had breakfast and then, went to Abuko Nature Reserve. They did the guided walk and their guide share detailed information on the flora & fauna. The monkeys expected to be fed peanuts by the tourists. It was a pleasant outing.
That night they had dinner together and breakfast again the following morning. They spent everyday together. They visited all of the places which his secretary had made reservations for. The days went by quickly and soon it was the night before she was leaving. After dinner and spending time at the bar, they went for a long walk on the beach. Afterwards, they went to the bar and spent a couple of hours there, sipping mocktails and talking as they relaxed on one of the sofas.
He escorted her to the room. As they faced each other, she asked, “Would you like to come in?”
He nodded. She opened the door and they went inside. Early the following morning, he went back to his room. At breakfast they met and when it was time for her to leave for the airport, he was standing in front of the hotel. “Goodbye, Jack,” she said.
“This isn’t goodbye,” he said. “We’ll see each other in December.”
She smiled. “Yes. I’m looking forward to spending Christmas in Austin.”
“I promise you will have a great time.” They hugged and then, she was waving to him as the shuttle drove away.
He was lonesome for the rest of the time he was there and was relieved when he was on his way back to America. December came and he went to the airport to pick Danita up from the airport. Overjoyed to see her, he took her in his arms and kissed her long and hard on the mouth. They went back to the ranch.
On the second evening when they were having dinner, he asked her, “How would you feel about living on this ranch?”
“Are you asking me to move in with you?”
“No. I’m asking you to marry me.”
As she stared at him, stunned, he got down on one knee and proposed. She accepted and smiled as he put the ring on her finger. They drank a glass of champagne and then, he took her outside to enjoy the magnificent sunset.
He put his arms around her and smiled, feeling unbelievably happy. Finding love in Gambia wasn’t something he had expected to happen. It was remarkable how they had met on another continent instead of right there in the USA where they both lived. Life was funny sometimes.