Watching people go by

On my last day at the house of Lorenza and Luis Carlos, Felipe’s parents, I went for a walk in two of the city parks: the “Parque de los Novios” and the Simon Bolivar Park. Just as each Uruguayan city has a José Artigas square or/and avenue, so are many important spots in Colombia named after the hero who gave the country its independence .

Nothing much to tell about the lovers’ park, except for the fact that I got chased by a goose as I was on my way to buy a hot dog. I almost had to run for my life.

In the Simon Bolivar Park, I could see how they were setting everything up for the music festival that was going to take place there the following week-end. “Rock al Parque” is the world’s biggest free music festival in the world. And I was going to miss it. My plan was to go to a kite festival in Villa de Leyva, in the province of Santander. But, by now, you know how it goes with my plans.

Rock al Parque 2014
Rock al Parque 2014

I spotted a swing and couldn’t resist the desire to sit in it and give in to one of my favourite hobbies: observe people passing by. People jogging around in an effort to stay healthy. And reminding me I should start again myself as soon as I get back home. Young couples falling in love. Old ladies and gentlemen walking their dogs. And then you have less ordinary passers-by. A man and a woman. Not a couple by the look of it. She a Colombian; he an English-speaking foreigner. I’ve never been good at recognising an American accent from an English or an Australian one from the first few sentences. They didn’t seem to be very close friends either. I figured they could be couch-surfers, like me. A host and her guest. They were already too far away. I would probably never know it. I stood up and continued my own walk. It was time to go home.

I went past the pair of them as they had halted for a while. Then I stopped on a bridge to take a few pictures. The Colombian girl and her guest were about to pass me by when the guy suddenly asked me “Hablas español?” I would get to know the story, in the end. Simon is an English teacher from the US and he was taking the opportunity of his holidays to visit some former students. Now Eliana had become his Spanish teacher. The reason why he spoke to me was to know if I wanted to go to Rock al Parque with him. His host wasn’t going to be there and he would have enjoyed some company. I had to decline. But I got  company for the rest of my walk. The three of us got lost, as we were unable to find the way out.

This episode made me wonder about the fact of “travelling alone”. When I announced I was going to do just that for seven months, many people told me I was either brave or crazy. I guess because many of them fear to be on their own. But the fact is that you will only be alone if you really want it. If you are a little bit social, open to new encounters, you will meet people constantly. You will actually meet more than if travelling with another person. As a matter of fact, I sometimes need to force myself to have a few moments on my own. To write, for example.

I leave you a link to a page summing up the reasons why everyone should travel alone at least once in his life. I agree with most of them.



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