Wednesday, April 27, 2016
I have very dear friend, who I bonded with over a pair of sunglasses ( you can read about in under 2012 - un hombre y su hotel). He's been nominated by a prestigious website for excellence in customer service and he has never known a stranger. It's his personal credo 'Nothing is impossible' that makes Joaquin this special person. I made a private joke only for myself which I will now share with you - sometimes I say WWJD(what would Joaquin do in this situation) and when I realized whose initial that saying actually belongs too, I thought it fitting. Both believe and practice the Golden Rule - 'Love your neighbor as you would love yourself'.
"We noticed on the drive into Prague, everything is still painted 'Communist gray' ". It occurred to me as I struggled to keep up with my petite blonde guide Eva, she may be my age. This comment was probably anything but academic to her. As we walked from Prague castle through the New Town across the Charles bridge, I finally got up the nerve to inquire about her life in Prague during the time of Communism. The stories I heard of family and friends being encouraged to report on each other. Of her parents having to explain to her at a very young age, while they would listen to Radio Free Europe, they could never tell anyone about it - arrest would be swift, seemed the stuff of a cold war spy novel. And finally she spoke of the 'Velvet Revolution' waged right there in Prague. Of thousands of students, herself included going to the house of the Czech President and shaking their house keys in a deafening jingle - a demand for him to give up the keys to his presidential residence and free the Czech people.
Looking forward to finally picking up my neglected novel, I started to sink in to my beach lounge chair where my mother was waiting for me under a shady palapa. "There's been an incident" she told me cautiously (I am known for losing my cool during times of medical distress) as she lifted the bottom of her foot to show an ugly red blister open and full of the alabaster Punta Cana sand on the Monday last. Book returned to beach bag and off we walked (hobbled) to the urgent care located on our resort. An hour later, with an IV of antibiotics, more to take for the next three days, creams, gauze and surgical tape we were banned for at least the next couple of days from the beach (sand and an open wound a definite no no). Talk changed from medicine to travel and common interests and by the end of the hour visit in addition to all the medicines and first aid items - the doctor had become 'Nadia' and my new friend.
Travel not only is my profession it is my passion. I have been very fortunate to see the many wonders of this world, experience cultures other than my own and most importantly meet and know its people. It is the chance meeting of a person I would have never have met that stays with me every day. Australia, Israel, South Africa, Argentina, Italy, Greece, England, Ireland, Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. These are no longer simply places on a map to me, they are the homes of my friends. This long winded rambling diatribe is an answer to a question I answer many times a year. "Why would you travel with the world the way it is? Terrorism, sickness, political unrest and etc etc etc". My answer is always the same - because it has changed me. These chance meetings of strangers in a place I would have never been, have made me the person I am today... and I will always be grateful.