I love the people you get to meet while traveling. The one thing that being a solo traveler for many years has taught me is that if you don’t engage with the people around you, your trip can be pretty miserable. Sharing is what makes it all so very worthwhile and whether you are sharing your trip with a friend or just sharing an experience with someone, gives it all so much more meaning.
I was standing in a near empty café yesterday trying to escape the heat and took my chances at ordering a sorbet in Spanish. I went to great lengths to explain to the waitress my order needed to be gluten and dairy free and the final result was a blank stare and I ended up confusing the hell out of her. In my frustration I decided I would just have black coffee. I can say that “café negre par favour” and its always a safe bet.
As I went to sit down the only other person in the café spoke to me in English and offered me the opportunity to join her as she sat and sipped her water. She too was gluten free and spoke Spanish and said was happy to interpret my order to the waitress so in the end I did end up getting that sorbet after all . It was delicious I might add.
Shira had taken to the café in an effort to avoid the heat and fill some time in enjoying some air conditioning before catching the evening ferry back to the city of Buenos Aires when she has lived since November. She had sailed over on the lunch time crossing for a mandatory stamp on her passport that would allow her to stay in Argentina for another 90 days on a holiday visa. It seems bizarre but that’s how it works here. We didn’t have to have a visa to come but are entitled to stay 90 days in the country without applying for an official visa. The loophole is that if you leave inside that time and go to another country and get your passport stamped as such, your 90 day period starts again from the day you re-enter Argentina. Montevideo and Buenos Aires are a 2.5 hr ferry journey apart and so it made sense.
She is an American lawyer who has practiced employment law for over 20 years in Florida . She left her legal practice a couple of years ago to complete a two year masters programme on environment law and policy in Austria because the costs of education there were much cheaper than in the USA. She did it believing that once her Masters was completed she would return to the States and make a difference to the world. Unfortunately before her time was up and her education complete, the American Administration had changed. Our red headed friend Donald had jumped into the driver seat of the country, it was starting to divide and things were going to shit. She was disillusioned and decided she didn’t want to be a part of that so at 44 years of age, she headed for Argentina, rented a self-contained apartment in Palermero , a nice area in BA for the pricely sum of $700 USD a month and set about reinventing herself. She is doing a little bit of legal work online but the income she is deriving from that isn’t huge and she is basically living on savings waiting on that lightbulb moment to happen when it all comes clear to her what steps she should take to move past the indecision she is wrestling with.
I've been there, every day I wonder what the hell my purpose is and hopefully before I take the last ride in the grey car to the pearly gates I will have my answer. I said to her, indecision is her biggest threat of moving forward. It robs you of the opportunity to make a good or bad decision by leaving you on the will I or wont I fence. My advice to her was there are never any wrong or right decisions, just good or bad and if it turns out she makes a bad decision, then make another one to fix it.Paralysis by analysis is another of my favourite mantras. You analyse your options over and over procrastinating and stuck by inertia. At the end of the deliberations with yourself, If you are really lucky you will make a firm decision on the path you want to proceed down. The moment you do that your momentum builds and the feeling of doing something overwhelms you with relief.
It fascinates me the people you meet and their stories and for me sharing them as I write goes some way to fulfilling my sense of purpose. Writing feeds my soul and as my son said to me once years ago when I was trying to shove him down a career path he had no desire to follow, “ Mum, if you love what you do , you never have to work a day in your life” . He was only 17 then and I don’t know where that came from but at 54 I agree with him. I need to find someone to pay me to galavant around the world making huge feck ups and informing the general public of what fun life can be when you don’t piss about and just get on with it. Unless of course you lose an eye doing it!