One of the things I love about travel is the opportunity it offers to meet interesting people. It is not uncommon for seemingly unfortunate circumstances to present possibilities for new friendships. Unpleasant situations often turn out to be among the most interesting aspects of travel adventures.
Due to my own forgetfulness, and lack of foresight, I found myself in a cheap hotel room with no functioning door. On top of this, I had forgotten my camera charger in Cancun and missed my rendezvous with a friend in Merida. So I found myself wandering downtown Merida at night, carrying all my luggage and searching for a replacement charger and an internet cafe so that I could contact my friend. I was tired and did not speak the language.
An old man saw me on the street looking lost and confused. He approached me and, though we had no common language, it was clear he wanted to help. He spent a couple of hours trying to help me find what I was looking for – without much success. But the least I could do was offer him dinner or a drink. He looked at me, with the most innocent of looks, and said simply: “Ice cream”. Cesar lead me to an ice cream parlor where they served a special kind of sherbet. It was served in a special way and it was very good. We each had two servings. I sculpted a pyramid out of my ice cream to show him my plans for the morrow. He took out a binder and, within it, were hundreds of small handwritten names and addresses. These were the friends Cesar had made over the years. My own contact information was added to the binder. He is retired and spends his time making new friends and trying to help people. I have no idea if his Christian faith is what drives him, or perhaps some other motivation. Whatever the case may be, in my eyes, he is a precious human being. I’ll correspond with him using Google translate and traditional snail mail.
If I could do the same trip over again, I would have planned on forgetting my charger in Cancun – just so that I could meet Cesar.