Tonight I had what may have been my best Colombian dinner so far with two new friends I met in Valle de Cocoro a few days ago. They were hiking up to stay in a finca off the beaten track and I was out exploring for the day. We had one of those short but in depth conversations you have with strangers when traveling, then headed our separate ways – them up, me down. Luckily we ran into each other at sunset on the beach last night and shared dinner and beers. My Spanish hit a new high when I could interpret another non-Rico Suave saying “When I look at this woman, my heart beats fast and I have to be careful so I don’t have an infarction”. I was pretty happy that I translated such an odd sentence, but at the same time slightly put off by the translation and his chair constantly sliding closer with his wandering leg meeting mine under the table.
Romain and Louise, my French allies against Colombian creeping chairs and pounding hearts, stopped by my fancy kitchen to make dinner together this evening. We bought 3 fish straight from the boats on the beach and Romain went to work gutting and cleaning them while Louise and I freeloaded and drank beer. They could sense my scepticism throughout as Saskatchewan was never really the epicenter of marine cuisine, but Romain did not fail to impress, stuffing the fish with onions, fresh lime and tomatoes. It was delicious. Romain went all-out, even removing my fish from it’s body. They ate theirs right off the skeleton though, their fish looking straight into the window of my soul the entire time.
It was so impressive to hear of their travels over the past year. They too quit their jobs to travel and see the world and have established a great blog at www.terrehoteliere.com (en francais). They have this great gypsy look about them, both with long hair and Romain with full beard. I was shocked when Louise showed me pictures from their life pre-travel. They’re so clean cut and normal-looking. It’s interesting to remember (and easy to forget) that when you travel you feel the most like yourself while appearing quite different than your everyday. As with everyone who starts to consider the end of their journey, you meditate on how to bridge the gaps between the insight and learnings of the road with the schedule and routine of normal life, how to self express while not looking like you’ve just stumbled out of a Colombian opium den, how to connect with strangers in an open and accessible way without becoming that crazy woman on the subway.