"No. It's ok. We like photos alone" Roberto said while Luis chuckled.
After a few seconds, Roberto expanded on it. "We don't want people to mistake us. We don't want a photo of us on Facebook. Friends will make fun."
I couldn't help laughing at the way he phrased it. They too laughed.
Women are way more confident than we men are. As friends, they hold hands, pose cheek-to-cheek, dance together. All as friends. No way is that immediately interpreted as being gay. With us guys, in this part of the world, we are so careful about it. Insecure. Paranoid. When I travel in India, I am always amazed at boys and young men holding hands, with arms over each other's shoulders, ... I am sure I, too, walked around that way back then. Practices are so cultural and contextual!
"Given that you are medical residents, and good looking young men, how come you are not traveling with women?" I asked them.
To quite an extent, talking like this with men at any age is easy. No guy in his right mind will ever mistake such a question. I would think that guys, straight and gay, at any age, would love to talk about the female of our species. The females were mysterious to me when I was becoming aware of them many decades ago, and they continue to be a mystery even now. My guess is that even women don't understand women. Perhaps the purpose of life is a simple one--to understand women!
Roberto and Luis laughed at my question. Then Roberto said "girlfriends are expensive. They want gifts. Then they want marriage. And kids. And then it will be a divorce. More money. I want to travel first."
Lots of young men and young women--and middle-aged balding men too--traveling alone these days. It has become possible to travel any which way we want anymore. Life has changed a lot, for the better. I stood for a while looking at the crater and taking photos when I heard the guide, Alberto, calling my name. It was time to move on.
|During the hike down from Poás|
The following morning, I went to have breakfast at the hotel. I missed the tasty and home-made breakfast at Andreas' and Connie's. If Charlie Chaplin could eat a shoe when hungry, I certainly can devour old bread and drink horrible coffee. Ok, that was an exaggeration!
Three women were having breakfast. Two were more than a decade older than me, and the third was at least a decade younger than me.
"Did you have a good vacation?" I asked them. It was clear from their bags that they were checking out.
They were indeed moving on to the next place on their schedule.
"Where are you from?" I asked them. They were all from Hamburg, Germany. And, of course, the question bounced back.
"From the United States. I moved from India a long time ago."
"Where in India?" asked the younger one.
"From the southern part. The city is called Chennai."
|Out in the wild ...|
"I love India" she said. "My boyfriend is half-Indian. He has family in ..." She couldn't recall the name of the place. "It is a place with Communist government."
It had to be Kerala or West Bengal. And given the wanderers that Keralites are, the odds were not in favor of Bengal.
"Is it Kerala?" I asked and she was excited. "Yes, that is the one."
"It is a pretty place. Have you been there?"
"I would like to. But, it seems like my boyfriend's family want him to marry an Indian woman, and I cannot pass of as an Indian" she laughed.
No way, indeed, for that slim, tall, blonde to pass of as an Indian.
"Wrap a sari around you, cover your hair, and get married" I joked.
"My eyes will give it away." She had a quick comeback.
I suppose it is to avoid complications like this that Roberto has decided against a girlfriend.
|During the hike down from Poás|
It seems like the German has found what she was looking for, but her journey hasn't ended. Roberto is looking for other things in life. We are all travelers in life looking for whatever we are searching for, and our paths intersect. We share stories. We laugh. And we move on to the next intersection. Sometimes with people from the previous intersection and other times by ourselves.
I remembered the intersection at Orosi Lodge. When I returned to the room, I sent them an email:
Good morning, Andreas and Connie.
I miss your breakfast and coffee. Miss it bad. I have to wait to reach home to make myself something comparable :(
Thank you so much for your wonderful hospitality, and an absolutely friendly and welcoming nature. Tell your son I loved his sense of humor :)