Sunday, November 13, 2011

Indie Travel - Meaningful connections

Travelers meet dozens, if not hundreds, of new people on every trip. They may become friends, enemies, lovers, and resources; they may stay in your life forever or be forgotten the next day. Tell about a time you felt a powerful connection – for however long – to another person while traveling.
Once again, the prompt for the day is exquisitely tuned to the life I'm leading.

Adena's front yard.
Almost two years ago I decided to try solo travel, and living in a foreign country. The closest one to me was Mexico, and since I once spoke Spanish a bit, that was the logical choice. Several friends had been to San Miguel de Allende and recommended it. Then a friend told me about the annual writer's conference there, in February, so that set the timeframe.

It was a fabulous trip, where I made many lasting acquaintances, the most notable being Brenda. We realized that we had been destined to meet. I saw her in the Jardin trying to find a good home for some puppies and we chatted. Later she came to a Unitarian meeting with her friends and I happened to be there, we connected again. Later still, we had both signed up for the same workshop at the Writer's Conference! After that we did numerous fun things together including a guided tour of dessicated mummies and a memorable hike. Friends of mine from New Mexico happened to stop in San Miguel and they became friends with Brenda too. Our little community grew. 

On this Eastern Seaboard trip, I stayed with her for almost two weeks in Bethlehem. And when I wanted to go to Philly, she asked her friend Adena if I could stay with her for a night since I tend to travel on the cheap. 

Adena is the widow of a very famous writer and artist, and is herself a poet and lovingly formidable force in an entire world of people.  She welcomed me with open arms and I slid into her life seamlessly. 

Adena's back yard.
On Friday afternoon we went to a Shabbat service at a neighbor's home, and then to another neighbor's home for dinner. Adena and her friends are conservative Jews and keep Kosher, something I'd never been exposed to. I almost ruined a cup by putting milk into my coffee, until I learned the 'system' of which dishes can be used with dairy and which cannot. Adena was incredibly generous with her friends, her words, her cultural and history lessons, her observations. And so were all her friends. The dinner was excellent and I felt very comfortable. Her friends have a helper named Marta, from Honduras, who used to take care of the grandmother, and is a firmly entrenched member of their family. We spoke Spanish and she told me the story of how she'd come to be there. She and they offered up the radical hospitality that I experienced so often in Mexico. 

At Adena's invitation, I stayed a second night and spent Saturday in Philly, experiencing a wonderful day. (But that will be another blog.)

Adena gave me several of her husband's books and signed them for me. After all she had as much to do with their creation as he did, she was his first reader and loving critic. What a relationship they must have had!! I know she misses him, his paintings and presence are everywhere. 

In the world of connections, it's often amazing how one can lead to another. Some people you meet and connect with, but it fades away, out of sight - out of mind. But some last the rest of your life and expand exponentially to branch out in the brilliant sunlight of human experience.