You’re looking for a travel buddy? I’m down for a road trip. What's the plan?
My time in La Ventana was coming to an end. I was two weeks late for my meeting with Marco in Puerto Escondido. Marco is a friend from Montreal who took a year off to travel the world. The last time I saw him was at his place last December, on a -31 ° C overcast day. It was so cold he could not walk barefoot in his own house. We dreamed about drinking beers somewhere warm.
It is a long drive from La Ventana to Puerto Escondido. I needed a reliable travel partner. Someone who could take over the wheel and answer my work emails when I was driving. I pushed off my departure date twice already because I had not found anyone suitable for the ride. The truth is, I just wanted to spend more time with Alex.
Traveling has taught me to spot interesting people without even talking. Generally, the more a person talks, the more they have something to prove. And the less interesting they are. I like quiet people. They give off a serene vibe that intrigues me. A quiet person is like the undiscovered map of a video game. It's all dark at first but lights up bit by bit. As you explore it, it keeps revealing an interesting and often unexpected landscape.
I walked into Playa Central one morning and shared my travel plans. Lukas, a quiet kite-surfer from Germany spoke up. Before I travel with people in the van, I make sure to tell them and about la Chichona’s 3 golden rules: 1# No bitching 2# Be clean 3# When shit hits the fan, remember rule 1. Lukas likes rules, obviously... He’s German. He agreed to all three and even added one of his own: “if something bothers you, speak up”. We discussed the details and logistics and agreed on the date of departure, in two days. I got to know him better since that morning, and thought he would be the perfect travel partner. Always in a good mood, sharp and knowledgeable about the topics he discusses…Germans! He had visited more than 40 countries; a whole map to explore.
Lukas is a physician with two specialties. He specializes in internal medicine and intensive care, always flirting with death. He must have been through some shit, I thought. Lukas talked about his job with such passion! He piqued my interest on how the human body reacts to diseases. Now I admire even more its incredible complexity. Lukas was also allergic to bullshit. His language was direct and clear, with a touch of sarcasm. We bonded.
I had committed to both Marco and Lukas now. That meant only two more days in La Ventana. The clock was ticking. Two days to kitesurf, try new restaurants, learn about everyone’s story and make the most out of La Ventana. Two days.
It is funny how we change our attitude when faced with an imminent leave. Every second becomes valuable. I wanted more time to say goodbye to the people I cared about. So I made a conscious effort to be present, attentive and to enjoy it all. Every smile, every hug, every kiss. Time and health are often taken for granted, though they are the only two things we can neither buy nor get back.
We planned to embark on the afternoon ferry from La Paz. I went to Playa Central to pick Lukas up and to say goodbye to those who made La Ventana feel so homey. I was waiting for Lukas when Alex stopped by in her white cabriolet. We had a long, sad, and silent embrace. The air was heavy. She took my wrist and wrapped it with a beautiful handmade craft. A wristband wallet with Peruvian motives. Her farewell gift, sealing our memories together. The end of a chapter. An arrow through the heart.
I thought back to all the beautiful moments and people I’d met in la Ventana. In a few weeks, I had known incredible characters, made friends, and met a fantastic lover.
Traveling intensifies human connections over a short period of time. Positive emotions as well as difficult ones. The hardest part is always saying goodbye, because it is more often a farewell than a see you later. The more attached we become, the more painful the parting.
Freedom has a price, it is the traveler’s curse.