The people that you meet along the way are really what make travel special. At least to me. I find that the interactions that I have are some of the most special and memorable times of my trips. I might tell you about the Museums I visited, the sights that I observed, the horror stories of bad buss rides or nearly getting robbed, or of the Tours that I have taken….these are enjoyable as well, but it’s really the people that make a place or a moment something special.
There have been a couple of people and interactions that bear sharing at this point. People that have gone out of their way to connect with us. To take that step to interract. Not because they had to due to their job or position but out of altruistism. This is the reason that I travel. These are the moments to remember. Your not going to find pictures of these people; the moment was more than a picture can tell…..
The Infectious Disease Specialist
While attempting to find the Coca Museum in La Paz we were stopped by a local woman. She asked us in perfect english if she could help us find where we were going. We must have looked quite lost for someone to randomly just stop to help us out without our prompting. Turns out that this sweet lady is a Infectious Disease Specialist. What luck for us!
We stood on a random street corner chatting for about 20 minutes about the likelyhood of us catching any of the myraid of things that we were warned and treated against, as well as our travels in South America. She told us that she is married to an English-man and is Bolivian and lives in Bolivia.
According to her, yellow fever and malaria are not much of a concern. The biggest concern is in the more tropical areas near water….the botfly! Now, I’ve done a little reasearch on this and knew what it was but really didn’t give it much thought until this lady pressed us with her warnings. What does an Infectious Disease Specialist recommend for prevention of the dreaded Botfly? Vitamin B.
Very simple, actually….she stated that we should start taking the Vitamin B at least 24 hour prior to traveling into wet, tropical areas. You better believe that we will be stocking up our Vitamin B supply at the local pharmacy before we get to Peru!! I’m pretty certain that it’s much to cold here in Bolivia to worry much about any sort of fly surviving….let alone getting under my skin!
Maria Victoria Lopez!
I love this little old lady. She looked like she was about 80 years old. But as Teresa and I have discussed; these people seem to age quite quickly. I’m unsure if it is the harsh South American Sun or the hard life-style that they live….either way, back to Maria Victoria Lopez!!
We wandered into a little cafe just wide enough for a table against the wall and a bench seat; leaving room for a single person to walk along the back of the bench seats. As we entered, Maria Victoria Lopez greeted us with a warm smile and a comforting demeanor. I felt like I was walking into an old friends home the way that she welcomed us.
Once inside, she immediately assisted us to order and sat down beside us. She preceeded to attempt to have a conversation with us in Spanish. When we explained that we knew very little Spanish…she asked us if we knew French or German. This wonderful lady also speaks Quechua and another tribal language that I cant remember. I felt so un-educated at this point. This lady speaks 5, yes FIVE dfferent languages!! I speak English poorly and am struggling like crazy to remember even a few words/phrases in Spanish….how pathetic!
The language barrier didn’t deter Ms Maria Victoria Lopez. She ordered a cup of tea and continued to interact with us. She seems a loving, embracing, compassionate woman that strives for knowledge and interaction. Her eyes glowed with a desire to connect; the sound of her voice soothing and relaxing. She is a woman who I admire as she looks for the good in life and takes in all that surrounds her.
I wish I had paid more attention to the name of the little place where we met Maria Victoria Lopez. She is a wonder to behold and it would be a treat for any traveller to meet her. If I make it back to that little cafe near the bus station in La Paz, I will be certain to find Maria Victoria Lopez and obtain some contact information to share as well as buy her a cup of tea and hopefully have another inspiring interaction with this lovely lady.
I have labeled this as Part I because I am certain that there will be more such interactions like this that I will want to share. I truly think that it’s the people that make a place special and I want to remember and share the joys of these interactions.
Have you met anyone during your travels or daily life that made such an impression on you? Was it a look? A word? A smile at just the right time? Share your thoughts with me….I love to hear other’s Maria Victoria Lopez moments.