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Abeja to the Rescue!

After a long, hot morning of hiking, I was excited to put on my bathing suit and go for a swim in one of the pools below a waterfall here in Dogon country. The waterfall was powerful and a little scary. None of the local men would go in. Of course! Mali is a desert most of the year. Even though they are all strong and athletic, none of them know how to swim!

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Me and a new buddy in front of the falls!
Just then I heard a splash. A man had jumped off of a rock into the deepest part of the pool. I watched him come up, gasp, and go under again, struggling. "Is he just joking?" I wondered. He came up again, still struggling. He wasn't joking.

I quickly thought back to my lifeguard training. I swam up behind him and quickly grabbed him around the chest. He relaxed a bit when he felt me holding him. "Help me!" I cried to the people on the shore. They didn't speak English but the sound of my cry got them moving. They waded out as far as they could and helped pull the man in.

He told me later, in French, that he had been swimming once before in Abdijan, Ivory Coast and that it had been easy there. Of course! Abdijan is on the ocean, and people float more in salt water, making it much easier to swim.


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