WHILE TRAVELING you are sure to meet all kinds of amazing people and will without a doubt, learn a few new things or bring back a fresh perspective. One of my favorite parts of visiting new countries and meeting new people has been those little sayings or phrases that I remember hearing; and no matter how long has passed, they’ve stuck with me. Some were funny or strange. Some seemed a bit more profound or important.
Here are the 3 best things I’ve heard while traveling:
Hope you enjoy!
#1 “Today is today….tomorrow? I don’t know?!”
Location: Sayulita, Mexico
On vacation with my girlfriend, we decided to sign up for a full day of sailing and snorkeling with Alley Cat, a very fun boat trip for the day!
The morning started off a bit sluggish: all the tourists were shuffling onto the large, 56 foot catamaran boat and the excitement level was hovering around a 3 or 4. While not depressing, the mood was understandable. A tinge of a headache, read like the headline on a newspaper, across many faces (Tequila the likely culprit) and the morning air was still chilly on the water. The sun beginning it’s day and rising just as slow as we were moving. By 8am, the seats and mesh netting hammock-style center of the boat was filled with huddled tourists. Brightly colored beach towels were wrapped over everyone’s shoulders and legs – makeshift blankets so some could still imagine they were in bed.
At 8:30am the boat motor came to life and all of the day guides piled onto the boat. Christmas music began to blast and they all ran to the front of the boat – standing in front of us like a theatre cast, ready for their final bow. The tip of their Santa hats dancing side to side.
The lead guide, Carlos, announced himself with a smile and as he saw everyone needed a pump up, he proclaimed in broken, accented English, “Today is today……tomorrow I don’t know? The boat laughed and chuckled.
As the boat glided over waves, the sun came up, and smiles brightened on everyone’s faces. Throughout the day, this saying would become (first) a little joke that we would giggle with a worried expression on our face (oh no this will be a long day!) and then it became everyone’s rallying cry (Today is TODAY!….)
I can remember myself thinking “oh crap what did we sign up for!” at this early morning hour – cold and on a boat, with overzealous dancing guides and loud Christmas music belting “Feliz Navidad” on repeat.
But once the boat set sail, the day became more and more fun: with snorkeling, swimming into a blue cave, and sightseeing. As the boat sped along, the sun rays warmed our ocean-salt kissed skin.
By 2 or 3pm in the afternoon, the vacationers had scarfed down tasty quesadillas and were now hitting the free and open bar – Coronas and Margaritas were being passed down the line.
By 4pm the boat was returning to our dock and the music was cranked up. The final 30 minutes were a euphoric sun-sparked party, with a conga line forming, a guide pouring Tequila down our gullets, and everyone embracing the phrase, “Today is today…tomorrow I don’t know!” It wasn’t quite Wolf of Wall Street (hey there were kids on board) but it was a party!
Thinking back, it’s almost one of those bumper sticker sayings, dead simple but the more you recall it, you start to nod along in agreement. I still think back to this day anytime I feel like skipping out on something that’d be out of a normal routine. Or just, if I can feel a negative vibe creeping in.
Our guide Carlos
#2 “Oh, My Christmas!”
Location: Cusco, Peru
Traveling with my friends, Tim and Tom, we planned a backpacking trip to South America and knew we wanted to do the traditional Inca Trail hike: a 4 day pilgrimage of sorts, where we would hike and camp our way to Machu Picchu. We picked the tour provider, Llama Path, and we were so glad that we did. Their entire team was awesome! One of the best parts was our lead guide, Marcos, and his assistant, Gary.
Marcos, leading our tour group
From Left: Tom, Marcos, Paul, and Tim
Now Marcos was a very interesting tour guide. He claimed to be of Incan descent – imagining back his lineage to the times before Francisco Pizarro and his tired band of Spanish conquistadors showed up with a lust for Gold and treasure. He’d studied the history, read the ancient writings, and even spoke the indigenous language, called, “Quechua”.
A true guide – he knew every inch of these trails and would pull the group aside to trace a drawing in the sand, or point to a local plant and explain the magical properties that the Incas would extract from the plant – utilizing in important ways, for example to remedy a stomach ache or enhance libido.
He was a great guide – bringing plenty of energy to wake up any whiny Americans or Brits we had in tow in our group. He did, however, have some very bizarre sayings. Some we just weren’t sure if we had miss heard him. Others were so strange we’d spend an hour hiking along a trail, hopping over stones and branches, and discussing as a group with heads shaking and shoulders shrugging. You think he meant…does he understand…..who knows?
I’ll give you an example. After any pep talk or attempt to rile up the group, he’d look around and say, “C’mon Michael Jackson did it!”. An air of silence would sit in front of all our faces, as he chuckled and slapped his hands and gently rubbed together (as if to ignite a tiny tiny fire). The saying would keep popping up but we had no idea what it really meant. Was he referring to Micheal’s amazing early music (Billie Jean, Bad, Thriller, cmon!) or was he by chance referencing the Free Willy hit song or scene with an Orca leaping far overhead? Or did he mean the later years – with all those unsettling accusations, rumors involving young kids, the court trials, and odd, odd, behavior.
Hmm, still thinking on what that saying meant? Alas, I digress. His most memorable phrase was one he would blare out whenever excited, happy, giddy, or genuinely attempting to get everyone in a better mood. He’d jump into our dining tent and as the porters would walk in and serve a steaming bowl of soup he’d stuff his nose into the bowl, inhale like a college kid’s bong hit, and exude, “Oooh My Christmas!”.
The saying, we all assumed, meant that he was so happy, or something was so enjoyable, that it felt as if it was Christmas morning. Along our hike we’d hear this jolly saying at many different points: a beautiful view of mountains coming into perspective as we rounded a turn, a hot tea or soup being placed into his cold, trail-worn, hands, or even when he’d wake up from a short nap in his tent. All of these moments would warrant a grandiose, “Oh My Christmas!”
Whatever the origin, I distinctly remember the saying and it was a sure-fire way to get our group chuckling, shaking our heads, and thinking, Oh Marcos!
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Sometimes referred to as the Paris of South America, Buenos Aires will likely forever hold my heart. It’s a wondrous city, filled with cafes, parks, and herds of homeless dogs. The people all seem thoughtful, well-read, and are communal in many ways. Food and drink is a shared experience, a mate is always passed around, and a curious thing happens whenever you leave a shop, a stand, a restaurant, or any vendor of any sort, as you depart, you’ll waive or nod and blare out, “Suerte!”. Translated it means luck. So in many ways you’re wishing the other good luck. Of course it doubles as a goodbye, see ya later, or until next time, but when you really think about, what could be a better way to leave someone else, than to extend a sincere, good luck?
A street corner in Buenos Aires.
So there you have it. A few phrases that have always stuck in my head. Suerte to all!
Until next time,