July 3, 2014

The last thing I wanted to do was spend my July 4th weekend in Uganda.

I was having a nice, harmless breakfast at Gregg’s café just south of Tel Aviv on the beach in Herzliya, catching up with my friend Sivan Yaari, the founder of the Israeli non-profit Innovation Africa. I was nearing the end of a busy and emotional trip, and the final 48 hours before my return to L.A. were, as they say, fully booked.

First on my mind, I had to scramble on deadline and write a whole new column after the horrible news of the three boys who were murdered near Hebron. My heart was heavy—I wasn’t sure what to say, which made me more anxious.

Also, I wanted to hang out with some of my kids who were in Israel, and I was looking forward to my flight home with someone whose company I adore—my 18-year-old daughter Mia.

I also didn’t want to miss meetings on my last day with my friends Shmuel Rosner and Ari Shavit, nor did I want to miss a family birthday and other stuff planned back home over the long weekend.

In other words, I really didn’t see myself suddenly taking off to Uganda!

But my friend Sivan got it in her head that I absolutely had to join her on a trip leaving that night, to experience first hand the amazing work that Innovation Africa does in African villages.

Sivan is one of those human beings for whom “no” is not really no—it’s a request for more information. So, when she saw a look of thick indifference on my face, she moved in with some information.

“It will be an incredible adventure,” she told me. “You’ll never forget it.”

Seeing that my look of indifference hadn’t really dissipated, she moved in with a punishing blow to my ego.

“Come on! Be young! Be spontaneous!” she said, standing up for effect.

Young? Spontaneous? Me? You mean, those wild and innocent days before I had to put five kids through Jewish day schools? Hazy memories…

Anyway, just to save you the gory details, after about 30 minutes of back and forth with my very persistent friend, with me seriously imagining a great adventure, I was on the phone with Sivan’s assistant booking a flight to Entebbe and discussing things like passport numbers and malaria pills.

“Now you can write your column,” Sivan said.

Which I did, in addition to cancelling my plans for the next six days.

So here I am now at the international airport in Istanbul, looking for Wifi so I can file this post, and waiting for a connecting flight to Entebbe.

The flight gets in around 3 am, which will give me just enough time to…to do what, exactly?…before our scheduled 6am departure to the villages and our great adventure.

If I can stay up, I will try to share some of the adventure with you.

In the meantime, enjoy the fireworks.

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