Samara O'Shea

Postcards from Africa

Hello, I hope everyone had a splendid weekend. I did. I loved the rain last night (it was pouring over most of the east coast). Falling asleep to a determined downpour is a treat and a sign that spring is near—as it was rain and not snow.

I also hit my PO Box and received a letter from my traveling friend. There is a very nice man out there in the world somewhere who sends me letters and postcards when he travels through Africa. Here’s one from Rwanda:


This time he sent me a letter from Dakar, Senegal, and in the return address spot is a haphazard drawing of the continent of Africa. It’s cute. In the letter he asks me this:

“As a lover of letters, I’d like to hear your opinion regarding the postcard—what should be on them? Describe the day? The scene, sights, smells? I always think about that scene in Under the Tuscan Sun where Diane Lane’s character writes out a card for a fellow tourist.”

I’ve not been able to write him back because he is ever on the road. So I’ll answer him here and hope he happens to be perusing LetterLover today.

First, I love the scene in Under the Tuscan Sun. For those of you unfamiliar, what happens is a tourist asks Diane Lane what she does for a living, and she says she a writer. He says, “Oh will you write my postcard for me?” She does, and he hates what she writes.

In any case, I find people are usually so excited to receive the postcard itself—and to know that you were thinking of them while away—that it doesn’t matter what the card says. That’s how I felt holding a card from Rwanda! It’s a cliché of an answer, but it’s true: write whatever you feel in the moment. Even if you simply write, “Wish you were here!” it’s the card and the trek it takes to the recipient’s mailbox that’s worth more than the words in this case.