Destiny had other plans.
The Eritrean, Foto, who I've written about before, and the Ethiopian, Ahmed, each found their way to San Diego and a peaceful co-existence as fellow taxi drivers. They share a cab; Ahmed takes the day shift, Foto works at night.
Who would have guessed that Foto and Ahmed's parallel paths would intersect at a Yellow Cab?
Foto, at 16, found the brutality of war intolerable. He set out solo, and crossed the desert into Sudan in seven long days. Six months later he went to Florida, and finally, San Diego.
Ahmed, at the same age, decided he didn't want to kill people, particularly Eritreans in other villages who spoke the same language (Amharic) and ate the same Ethiopian food.
He plotted his escape, hiding in a truck to get through the border into Kenya. He later went to Calgary, Canada, then Seattle, Washington before landing in San Diego.
Both outsmarted war and fate by choosing peace.
I felt lucky to ride in their taxi when traveling to my mother's birthday celebration. I rode with Foto on my way from the airport, and with Ahmed on the way back.
I'm grateful I chatted with both of them. Too often we miss intriguing stories because we're preoccupied, either by talking on our cell phones or texting.
Their stories were compelling, and it made me realize how talking to cab drivers often can be a history lesson ... a story of war and peace.