An open letter from travel photographer, Lola Akinmade Åkerström

written by Intrepid Travel April 21, 2020
Lola in the desert in Uzbekistan

To help us all feel a bit closer while we’re physically apart, we’re sharing letters to and from those who made their adventures extra special. Share your story with us today.

Dear Hushbek,

You might never read this letter, but then again, meeting you in the remote hillside village of Hayat in Uzbekistan showed me that assumptions are indeed futile. We’re a lot more connected than we think we are. And beneath our different shades, much more similar than we believe we are.

We were hiking around the foothills of the Nuratau Mountains when I saw you casually standing in your backyard. It was your royal purple robe that immediately drew me in. You were a colorful pop of contrast against the fiery reds and oranges of autumn behind you. I waved to you. I wanted to take your portrait. You returned my wave and summoned me to come closer.



“What’s your name?” you asked me in Uzbek , through our Intrepid leader Zafar who translated. I told you the shortened version I’ve been using since birth – Lola.

“Are you African?” you asked me. I responded that yes, I am in fact Nigerian.

“Then tell me your real name. Because I know it has a meaning. African names always have deep meanings.”

You waited for me to respond, eyes twinkling, watching me catch my breath. Hushbek… At that moment, in one of the most remote places I’d ever explored, you made me feel fully seen. You acknowledged me for who I am.

“Onoaralolaoluwa,” I finally tell you. “It means God moves in mysterious ways.” And you smiled back at me, knowingly.

Lola taking photos in the Naratau Mountains

So, Hushbek… I don’t know if we’ll ever meet again, but God certainly carved space in my heart for you when I was least expecting it.

Thank you for fully seeing me,

Lola Akinmade Åkerström.

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