What's in a name?
Just a little thing I thought I'd begin. I'm calling it 'Thank Goodness'. On as many days as possible (during the Coronavirus crisis) I'll post a little story that reminds me of the goodness I've experienced somewhere in the world. It's just a way to bring us together, to learn from and be uplifted by one another. Here's today's offering:
'Quieres?' sniff-sniff 'Quieres?'
I got used to that question from strangers in all sorts of places in Colombia. Translation: 'Do you want cocaine?'
Unfortunately, many an outsider thinks only coke and bad news ever come out of this infamous place. But, once you venture inside it, forget indulging your nostrils...instead, open your eyes, and let all your senses overwhelm you. It is an intoxicating country.
Cartagena, a northern coastal port, is one of Colombia's jewels. A UNESCO World Heritage city, it is influenced strongly by Spanish Colonial architecture. A walled city whose lanes, among other things, lead the imagination to the ghosts of pirates, witches, and Francis Drake. Research it for yourself. Cartagena has many stories to tell.
While in this city, Clare and I met a wandering street vendor, who sold an incongruous mix of jewellery, stitch-works, and cigars. Over several days we saw him many times. He always stopped what he was doing (usually just walking slowly with shell necklaces draped over his arms), and he talked with us. There was never any pressure for a sale. He was a gentle man with a smile that was fast to arrive and slow to leave. He lived in a nearby village. He was a grandfather...a man so proud of his well-being at a ripening age that he tapped his teeth to prove to us that they were all original. We so enjoyed his company that we shared milkshakes with him, and took him to dinner one evening. In return, he just warmed us with his calmness and acceptance that the world might be in a rush but why should he hurry to join it?
Now, all these years later, I wish we could somehow get a message to him. We have tried several times without luck. You see, he will forever be part of our family. Four years after we said goodbye to him, we named our new-born son, Ignacio. It is more than coincidence that the vendor's name too is Ignacio. I hope you are still well, our friend. Hugs from afar.