3 of the Best Things I’ve Heard When Traveling

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.

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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.

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Marcos, leading our tour group

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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!

#3 “Suerte”

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?

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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,

#keeptraveling

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Notes from Here and There

Far too rainy, windy, cold and gross to even leave the house, (or when a East Coast Blizzard strikes!) you sometimes get a little bit of time to think back to the places you have been and the things you have noticed. The following are a collection of thoughts, ideas, comments, opinions, musings, and theories formed while on various trips. These are by no means fact, just one young traveler’s per view.

The Hostel Rule

When staying at a hostel you will meet all sorts of people. You are somehow cosmically bound to meet the following people on your journey.

  • The Creepy Old Guy: Unwanted and yet unstoppable, you will come across a strange and older person, usually about 40-50yrs of age and someone who just shouldn’t be staying at a hostel.
  • The Eager Beaver: Sometimes just an individual, but usually an entire group of young travelers so young and giddy to drink, explore, and enjoy, that they end up making a big mistake – getting robbed blind or worse. Or perhaps just stumbling back in to the hostel (instead of staying out like a pro until the sun starts coming up) and they end up puking all over the hostel.
  • The Eat, Pray, Love-er: Thanks to the success of that book and then movie, you will run into the wide-eyed, clingy, needy, solo traveling girl. Probably blonde. Potentially not very attractive. Possibly bi-polar. They may strike you as an emotional wreck one moment, (weepy with bits of kleenex stuck all over their face) then joyous beyond reason (so very enamored with each flower, sunset, street corner, that they cry, (again finding themselves with bits of kleenex stuck all over their face).
  • The Gem: Sometimes you’ll find this person right away. Sometimes you won’t. This person can actually take any form, come in any age, and yes, they will often be tough to spot. Filled with interesting facts and pieces of knowledge or wisdom, they might know the best “locals only”club in town or have just found a secret hiking path that winds up and up into the air and has a oh-my-god! view of the city. The only way you’ll find out is if you strike up the right conversation. Talking to everyone, asking the right questions, and being in the right place at the right time.

The Food Rule

When traveling, food is important. Food matters. If you eat crappy food for too long, you’ll feel like crap and look like crap. You will be crap. You don’t want to be crap.

That being said, stretching your budget and making the right spending choices will help extend your travels – so being wise and finding a deal will be important.

Your hotel or hostel searching should take into consideration an included breakfast or optional dinner. Many will offer a FREE breakfast. They question is really , what comes with said breakfast? A cracker and a Capri-Sun? Nope that’s not worth it.

In Costa Rica, I stayed at a hostel that offered free pancakes – laying out the pans and pre-made batter, and syrup – then letting you play chef and whip up a stack of flapjacks. In Turkey, I received a delectable buffet style tray with toast and jam, fresh honey, fruit, a local salty white cheese, a fresh juice, and a coffee.

Well there’s something to consider when planning. Some food for thought if you will (see what I did there?)

The People Rule

Scribblings on the types of people you may encounter.

  • Australians: The roughest group you will ever meet. Liable to break out at any moment in a full rugby sprint and lay an innocent bystander flat out cold. Still, they are always game for a laugh and a beer.
  • Argentines: The most sophisticated of drinkers. Like nowhere else these suave pseudo-italians can nurse a healthy buzz all day and all night.
  • Americans: In a country with a 350 million+ population, it is tough to generalize. But heck that’s all I’ve been doing. The American guy or girl will be loud, excited by what they see, and will hopefully be fun to hang with, but may not be. The best way I can explain our people? While other’s act like they’ve been there before, the American will definitely show it’s their first time. Think about it: wether it’s a private jet, a famous museum, a celebrity sighting, or a stunning view, you’ll know where the American is.
  • Asian Tourist: Sorry to generalize and please forgive, but you know exactly where I am going with this. Brightly colored attire, spiky hair, selfie-sticks, extra large smartphones and iPads, video-game or comic-book inspired backpacks and accessories, lots of peace signs and cheesy grins, a general disregard or bewilderment for/with commonly held traffic or lining up or queueing rules….these are all but a few of the things that come to my mind (and likely yours). Don’t lie. You know it’s true.
  • Spaniards: They will look and speak Spanish. They will be in a group and will travel together and seek out anything and everything Spanish. They are, of course, Spanish! You should try and join them because they will have fun, eat well, and drink better.
  • Canadians: The nicest, whitest, cleanest, ambassadors of a country you will meet. They may have a maple leaf flag or red pin adorned somewhere. They represent their country with pride and prowess – making sure everyone knows they are Canadian and that they are nice. One imagines that at birth a small ceremony is held (Celine Dion must provide the background music) and each Canadian is bestowed (by a stern Mountie with the flat billed hat) a passport and a formal document explaining their duty is to go out into the world and promote the Canadian way and image.

The Golden Rule

What goes around comes around and Karma is a bitch. So this rules applies to almost everything you will do and everyone you will meet. Be nice and be your best. Treat each person as a friend, treat each hotel or hostel as your own home, tip generously when you can and when it’s culturally appropriate. And travel with a light foot, so when someone else comes to visit they can enjoy it as you are.

Well that’s all I got.

#Keeptraveling

Street Art in San Francisco, CA

– San Francisco, CA

Tucked into the heart of this city-by-the-bay, rests one of the most vibrant, cultural, and increasingly entertaining neighborhoods in the USA. Of course, I’m talking about the Mission!

The mission is famously known for it’s rich latin heritage (strong Mexican/Latin American presence), hipster vibe, and trendy bars and shops. It doesn’t make sense at first, but as you stroll the area, you slowly but surely will begin to fall in love with everything you see and experience (except the hipsters…it’s ok to still dislike hipsters!).

Aside from the crazy good food, nightlife, and people-watching, there’s a famous street set off of 17th and Valencia St., lined with entrancing art murals which will make your head spin.

Here’s a sampling of what I found but really, this is a trip worth making for anyone lucky enough to visit San Francisco, California.

Mission Street Art

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Where have you found the world’s best street art? Let’s hear it below as a comment or over on Twitter @TakeYaThere

 

How to Order a Coffee in Spain

Coffee. It’s one of the fundamental steps in waking up – and for many – the only way to truly click in and start the day.

Yes, coffee is important, it’s necessary, and beloved to the point of being sacred. Having a coffee should be preserved like an endangered species, and respected like a “Do Not Disturb” sign. So when something is so mind-blowingly difficult or confused about the simple system where one pays the other and receives a cup of coffee – we have ourselves a situation. Enter Spain.

When you first wake up, your head may be pounding, contacts swirling around in your eyes – you’ve got no desire to fight for a bar stool, to wave and holler at a bartender, or to make small talk with anyone in your way. No, this process is all about warming up the engines (uttering a sentence is tough, much less spitting out an eloquent thesis all in the name of a cup of joe). You just woke up and you’ve got the slight taste of toothpaste in your mouth and are wiping OJ from your lips. This is not a time for questions and confusion. Just give me a cup of coffee, please, oh pretty please?

But in Spain, like bureaucratic paperwork and buying socks, nothing about this process is easy.

I’ve been left embarrassed, dumbfounded, and coffee-less as waiters swirl about, glance your way, then move on to the next as their eyebrows clearly mouth, “Fuck off”. You don’t want that to happen to you.

So here then, are a few local tips to make sure you never experience the awkward, uncomfortable order where everyone at the bar looks at your like you’re an alien from “Men in Black” and the waiter leaves you and never comes back.

Lose the por favor: Saying please in the United States is polite, normal, and expected. What’s more, add a smile and you usually can get whatever you like. These are the little niceties that can take you so far. Not true in Spain. Adding a por favor to the beginning or end of your order is the ultimate mistake. Waiters in Spain don’t like you, they’re not your friend, and they aint doin’ this for tips. So trying to befriend them, or warm their hearts with a little kindness….that won’t work. Instead it sends the message that you, my friend, are a real nancy. A fluttering butterfly in the wind. Ooooh por favor. How to put it? It’s as if all of a sudden the cafe door opened, letting in a strong breeze to blow your frilly flower skirt up into the air and offering a quick peak at your “Winnie-the-Pooh” panties to all. No, instead, if you want to be nice, add a quick gracias once they’ve quickly brought you a coffee.

Hot or Cold: Nothing can throw you off and make you look like a bewildered bewildabeast faster than an unexpected question. Huuugggh? So be warned: in most cafes and restaurants across Spain if you order a coffee you will be asked at somepoint do you want the milk hot? Or medium? Or cold? Caliente o templada? The difference of course being preference and timing. If you’ve got to pound the coffee and get to work in 10 mins, ask for templada, got a book and 2 hours to kill? Caliente….porque no?

Cup or Glass: Another confusing question that may come your way is the ‘ole cup or glass (tasa o vaso) question. Now first of all it’s a dumb question (unless you speak spanish then it’s a common courtesy and not asking is rude, or at least assumptive). Just pour somebody a coffee and move on. It’s sort of like in a 007 James Bond movie when the bartender asks, “Would you like that martini shaken or stirred”? To which Bond retorts, “Do I look like I give a damn”.

Check, please: Ok so now you’ve miraculously received your coffee, enjoyed its contents, and the caffeine is starting to crank the poorly oiled, gears and chains inside your head. Now all you’ve got to do is pay up and be off to work or to visit the loo for a little number 2. Here are a couple of ways to order. An informal way to ask: que te debo? Simple, respectful. In English, what do I owe you? If you’re in a group of friends or colleagues, go with: nos cobra. In English, cover us (but it sounds good in Spanish).

A guide to the most common coffee orders you’ll find throughout Spain. Note in various parts of Spain, the name changes.

café solo – espresso

café doble – double espresso

café con leche – coffee with milk, usually half and half proportionally, but it depends on the region

café cortado – espresso with a dash of milk

café con hielo – espresso with ice

carajillo – espresso with a drop of brandy, whiskey or rum

trifasico – carajillo with a bit of milk, a Catalan specialty

café bombon – café solo with condensed sweet milk.

leche y leche – a bombon in the Canary Islands. Coffee with condensed sweet milk.

café sombra – is actually a café manchada in Andalucía

café manchada – a glass of milk flavored with a bit of coffee

café americano – large black coffee or café solo with more water

café suizo – coffee topped with whipped cream

café caramel – espresso with condensed milk, caramel

The Curious Case of Coffee in Spain

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All the ranting and complaining aside, once you understand these little tricks you’ll soon come to admire the bliss of perfect coffee – ordered to any specification you may have. Enjoy!

Got a comment or another favorite Spanish coffee? Post below or tell us over on Twitter @TakeYaThere

The Day Before Thanksgiving

WHY DO WE DO IT? Everyone knows this is the week not to fly and yet we go ahead anyway. Yes I know it is all about family during the holidays, and this is why we subject ourselves to the inevitable – long delays, whinnying babies, and snarky airport workers – but after going through the worst travel day of the year (the day before the day of Turkey) I look back and re-pose the question: why do we do it? Short answer: I don’t fuckin know.

Waking up at 3am sucks. That hour is reserved for glorious celebration, late nights of drinking, dancing, and debauchery. Never, and I mean never should a human be forced to wake at this insane hour. 5am? Hey that’s when farmers and day traders spring out of bed and start a productive day. 6am? Bouncy school children and grinding parents begin their day with little cause for concern. But 3am? Like I said, that’s crazy.

After somehow getting out of bed and packing with my eyes still closed, there I was, standing in the middle of the moon lit road waiting for a shuttle-van to come swoop me up and deliver me to the San Francisco International Airport. Surprised and relieved to begin the day on a good note, the van found my notoriously difficult to find apartment and hastily made it’s way to the airport. By 4:30am I had printed a boarding pass, been fondled by a handsy TSA agent, and ordered a cup of coffee (all while you were still comfortably asleep).

The plane boarded 45 minutes late, at 6:30am and after the usual routine, slowly rolled out onto the runway, thrust its engine, and floated up into the dark morning air.

The sky is quiet in the early morning. Otherwise rambunctious children are still too tired to be annoying, loud or boozy adults are silenced by the pain of the early hour, and the cabin lights are left off – save for the few overhead lights pressed on by reading grannies.

Fading in and out, I was able to recoup almost an hour of sleep before the drink cart smashed into my exposed elbow and re-confirmed the horrible truth: I was up at this hour and still had a full day of air travel. After moments of blurry awakeness and hours of staring into the balding patch of hair 6 inches in front of my face (trying to determine if this passenger had lice or just very bad dandruff) I conceded and opened my laptop to watch “I Love You, Man” for the 78th time.

Still cramped and becoming annoyed with everything around me, I decided to play a fun little game: thinking of questions and answers about life on a plane.

Q.) What is more annoying than a bitchy, hormonal flight attendant? A.) Three of them.

Q.) What is worse than dry, stale, airplane sandwiches? A.) When they cost $11.99.

Q.) How can you be the worst passenger? A.) Take your shoes off, fart incessantly, and let your snotty child climb over everyone.

Touching down in Newark, N.J. the plane was over-flowing with anxiety. Sweat was pouring down tired faces as each passenger tried to wiggle or jump in front of the other. It seemed dozens of us had connecting flights that were taking off in 15 minutes, 30 minutes, etc…my flight was leaving in 7 minutes and this clearly trumped all and yet I tried to remain calm.

Folding my jacket and pulling the straps tight on my backpack, I was ready to run and shove anyone too fat or slow to get out of my way. As soon as I was off the plane I zig-zagged up the musty, carpeted ramp and out into the terminal (shrugging off angry cries from slower passengers). I confronted a United agent, weezing and asking, “What terminal is flight 4480 leaving from”? Confusion was stamped across his unappealing face, then signs of movement started inside his head, but before he could open his mouth I had to take off. Running and yelling behind me, “Call the gate, tell ‘em to hold it for me”. I bolted past smiling Asian tourists who must have assumed I was filming the fourth Bourne film. Sweaty and out of breath I could see gate 85X and kept going. The gate was empty? Had I missed it? I spun around frantically, looking for someone by the front desk. Then I saw the board. The word “ Delayed” was splashed across every departure time.

That’s when it all started to go down hill.

My flight was supposed to take off at 3:08pm. That’s what was agreed upon and so I ran my ass off to make it. I arrived at the gate at 3:05pm…plenty of time to stroll down the ramp and onto the plane. Wrong. On the big screens, the updates flashed, and now my flight from Newark to Rochester was not scheduled for until 5:45pm. “Ok, not the end of the world”, I said to myself and posted up by gate 85X.

30 minutes past. Then an hour had moved on. The squirrely looking man at the gate’s front desk was continually smacking buttons and looking around as if this was his first day and he did not quite know what he was supposed to do. Tired of wondering, I walked up and asked him, “Hey, so what’s the latest on the plane”? Nervous and jittery, he mumbled with his head down, “Oh, we do not sir, the plane is delayed”. Yes I can see that.

I didn’t want to push it or anything and so I walked away content with his answer. When 5:15, 5:30, and then finally 5:45pm came around with no answer or update, others started getting upset. A large man wearing a thick, black leather jacket reluctantly lifted up from his chair and made his way to the front desk. I watched as he asked several questions, leaning in and peering down at the United worker who clearly wished he had called in sick for the day.

Several other passengers approached and rattled off questions in an angry tone – they probably joined me for the 3am wake up call, “When is our plane leaving…what is going on…?” But the answers all seemed to be the same: hands in the air and head staring down at the computer screen, “I don’t know”.

The man in the leather jacket, after having seen me approach the desk again, made his way toward me and peered down and moved in close to my face. He asked, “So what’d they say” in a molasses slow and slobbery manner. Taking a step back I answered quickly, “That we probably have another ½ hour to wait”. He seemed puzzled, then let out an untamed burp and question at the same instant, “What are you gonna do…go get a BEER?” Bluuuuuuuuuurp. Right in my face. Nostrils burning and now seeing stars, I took several steps back and tried to brush off what I was now tasting on the tip of my lips – the bottom of this man’s stomach: a mix of tuna fish, sauerkraut, and the unholy asparagus. Yuck!

I never even answered…I just turned and jogged to the escalator, heading back up to the main terminal. Ah fresh air.

My flight was delayed three more times and finally left at 8pm (five hours after it was supposed to) and while the burp in the face was the low point, the day of traveling on the day before Thanksgiving was a big bowl of awful. I woke up at 3am PST and did not get in to Rochester until 10pm EST.

It was a long day and as I write this all, I am on my way back to SFO (so far no delays). In the end, I made it for Thanksgiving, so I can’t complain too much. I am sure others experienced far worse. 

Let’s Meet at the Plaza

It was dusk and getting colder now as the sun was turning off. The city lights were shining and the night was moving in, slowly coming alive. All around her the streets were picking up with traffic, footsteps, and noise: honking, stopping, parking, waving, talking. She sat on the third row of steps in the Plaza and watched. Just waiting.

A few yards away a group of high-schoolers were all in a circle and had a bottle of whiskey, a bottle of cheap red wine, and a liter of coca cola. They were laughing, drinking, shouting, all very happily and seemed to be having a very good time.

Looking at her phone, she pulled out a pack of Marlboro cigarettes and quickly lit one. Holding it high and away from her face, with her elbow tucked down low, she looked wonderful and easily like a model from one of the fashion magazines from Rome or Milan.

Soon nearly an hour had passed and still there was no sign of him. They had a date. It was all planned. They were to meet at the Plaza at 8pm and then go off for a drink before dinner. That was what he had said wasn’t it? She replayed their conversation over and over in her head and looked through her phone for clues in the messages they had sent back and forth.

She: “Hi boy what r you doin’ today?”

He: “I have to return all my books but after nothin really. Maybe play ball with Cristian…u?”

She: “Going shopping w Sara and Marta! But after I don’t have plans. We should go out for drinks and dinner what do u think?

He: “Great idea. Let’s meet in the Plaza at 7:30 and get a drink”.

She: “Oh perfect. I’ll meet u there and it’ll be sooo much fun.”

He: “Of course. See you later.”

As she flipped through these over and over she tried to hear his voice but couldn’t. The noise from the Plaza was too great. Everyone was laughing and joking and it was a shame she thought, because it was a brilliant night. The sun had officially retired and the sky was dark blue like the ocean and the stars were a color brighter than white.

Time to Leave

He was packed into the rock bar near his house. Back in the corner and having a conversation he had no interest in. His two friends were shouting back and forth across him, arguing whose girlfriend had slept with more guys. Pointless he thought to himself as tried to finish his strong drink and leave. He had already checked the time and he knew he was late but he wasn’t going to take a taxi. With this traffic it will take just as long if not longer he thought, he paid for his drink and started to walk quickly towards the main street. He crossed and now headed down towards the bus station walking with long strides and smoking a cigarette. He stood by the sign and waited for the bus. He was getting worried now – he was an hour late and knew she wouldn’t wait for much longer.

The bus arrived as he was staring at his phone as if he had never seen one before. The time read 20:33 (8:33pm) and he was thankful it was such a short distance to the plaza. Three girls with dark coffee color skin bounced out the bus doors and walked right by him and in passing, the last turned just enough for their eyes to connect for a moment.

He looked out the window as the bus lurched down the city streets, pressing his forehead against the glass felt good – the cold, damp sensation of the window pressing hard back against him. The bus was only two blocks from the plaza now and he decided to get out and walk the rest. Moving with force, weaving through the crowds and passing the busy markets and stores. Now he was 200 yards from the entrance to the plaza. He could see the street performers: men doused in silver spray paint to look like metal, another in scary makeup, and one dressed as Darth Vader, all packing up their things and shuffling home.

Waiting at the crosswalk for the traffic to break he was feeling something he almost never felt – nerves. He had that light churning sensation in his stomach and tingles in his hands. And he knew why, he was excited to see her. He hoped she looked good. But then he knew that she would, that she did.

A crowd of tourists snuck up behind him and were noisily laughing and shoving all in a large group behind him at the edge of sidewalk. He could hear they were loud with alcohol, and he could feel them on the back of his neck. Stomping out his cigarette he had had enough, stepping out from the side of the road he took three small steps. He sensed he had moved too quickly and could feel the rush of the traffic, but he didn’t have time to look at what was coming.

When the road had been cleared, three police cars were parked across the street and blocking traffic. The group of tourists continued to stare in disbelief, one in the group had seen enough and tugged at the others to retreat. The flashing blue lights of the police cars caught everyone’s attention but no one really looked as they ducked and hurried past and went on with their evening as if they had not seen anything at all.

No More Time

She had gone from nervous and scared that he was not going to show, too angry, and back again. He was not going to come, she thought and her face sunk. The plaza was filled with the bright white lights of the bordering buildings, the fountain in the center with gushing water and soft green lights at the bottom made each persons face seem to glow. They were all happy: laughing, drinking, talking, kissing, shoving. And it was time to leave. She picked up her purse and stood up from the steps, peering across the top of the crowd, scanning back and forth one final time. She did not see him so she put her bag across her arm, put her head down, and walked slowly home.

As she lay in her bed confused, angry, and cold she sent a final message to him, “What happened…you never showed up?”

She never got a response.