One of the most memorable things from my trip to Italy a month ago was meeting Pablo, the first child born in that village in 28 years. It was doubly memorable because it wasn’t expected.

Booking our trip and then hearing the announcement felt surreal at first, and then started to feel like the beginning of a pilgrim’s journey. A meeting with itinerant shepherds earlier in the week should have intensified this second layer of significance. As with the famous biblical magi coming from thousands of kilometres just to meet this new arrival, I approached my trip with an added delight: Here we come, all the way from the South-East (in West Africa), bringing small gifts and greetings to meet the earth’s significant new addition.


Serendipity is a weird and curious thing, for there was no other way to explain the perfect collision of a planned trip to a remote and relatively unknown town in a country one had never been before with the birth of a new baby, the first in 28 years, in that exact same town, at around the same time as one’s trip. And what – if not for nature’s unfathomable mischief – could have arranged that the parents of this famous baby would be the employed managers of the mountain refuge where the event organisers chose to lodge us?


With Pablo, his father (Jose), sibling, and Nigerian writer Lola Shoneyin and daughter.

Sylvia, Pablo’s mom, is the manager of Rifugio Galaberna, a lovely mountain refuge with lodging and feeding services for travellers, tourists, and paying visitors. She speaks English, Italian, and some French. Her husband, José, is a physiotherapist who also helps out at the refuge, but works on his practice in Ostana and in neighbouring towns. As a couple, they presented a model of cooperation, friendliness, and grace. They were gracious enough to let us take as many pictures with the new child as we wanted.


The birth of a child is a wonderful thing. Wonderful, also, is such an arrival in such a beautiful place as Ostana. On some level, I’m jealous that he gets to develop some of his earliest memories in such a place, taking in some of the most delightful sights and sounds, of mountains and cow bells, and among such charming people.

Most wonderful, of course, is the privilege to have shared some of those days in this kind of delightful company.


Photos by blogger and Lọlá Shónẹ́yìn.

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