Hellanback walked a day and a half north of Casablanca,
feeling lonely, cursing himself.
"If I'da looked at a map I'd have gotten off that
plane in Tangiers and saved myself a lot of walking."
Around noon he found two pomegranates lying by the roadside,
and sat down to break fast. Splitting the first pomegranate, Hellanback
noticed a man, five or six years younger than he, walking toward
"Want some?" he asked, extending half a pomegranate
as the man drew abreast.
The stranger accepted the fruit and sat down beside him
to eat it. The man, who introduced himself as Talib, spoke French
just a little better than Hellanback, so they were able to make
very few sounds to convey common understanding.
Painstakingly, with few disjointed words and many gestures,
Hellanback figured that the young Moroccan was a baker from Fez,
where work was scarce, walking to Tangiers in search of a job.
"Beaucoup le distance pour cherchez le traviller."
Hellanback commiserated over such a long way to walk for work.
"Mafee flooz," Talib lamented in Arabic. Somehow
Hellanback understood that the Moroccan had no money.
Together they finished the journey to Tangiers and Talib
taught Hellanback enough about language and local customs that
he counted himself blessed by the walk from Casablanca.
Along the road they reached a moment of stark beauty where
hundreds of shades of brown and yellow painted the plateaus and
gullies on the right; on the left were lush green cultivation,
date palms, a camel swaying, and a whitewashed stucco village,
neat by a sparkling deep blue Atlantic under a powder blue sky.
The earth was a flawless garden, and life a priceless gift. God
created the earth, and it was perfect. God created humans, who
were perfectly intricate. "Is it only because we imagine
imperfection in the earth that life suffers?" Hellanback
On reaching Tangiers Talib disappeared in the job market
and Hellanback realized he'd had experiences and education he'd
have missed if he'd gotten off the plane in Tangiers.
Wondering what Jesus would say about seeking information
from a government, Hellanback visited the U.S. Consulate, told
them of his plan to walk to Cairo and asked for any advice they
"Forget it," the U.S. official advised. "They'll
never let you into Algeria. The Algerians don't like us."
He almost pouted.
Still naive enough to expect accurate information from
the U.S. government, Hellanback was very disappointed. But he
pressed eastward hoping the Lord would guide him.