Buenos días, familia!
I've been trying to finish writing this all morning, but keep getting distracted by fun conversations with awesome new people.
There's something special about taking a shower in a random hostel in the world while "Latch" by Disclosure plays on my phone. It feels like I could literally be anywhere. What defines the location I am, however, is the people, because more than anything, my experiences and memories in a new city or country are defined by the people I meet and the conversations I have.
I arrived in Bacalar yesterday around 6pm with no reservations and just a vague idea of where to stay. I knew there was a hostel called Green Monkey on Lake Bacalar, and I knew the lake was southeast of the bus station, so I just starting walking in that direction. I found the lake after about a kilometer and then headed south along the lake, asked a few people along the way ("Dónde está Green Monkey hostal?"), and eventually found it, nestled against the brilliant blue lake, gorgeous even under cloudy skies and strong winds.
Soon after I checked in I found myself outside in a conversation practicing my Español with a thirty-something filmmaker from Argentina who specializes in political subject material revolving around "the working man." He and four of his friends are in Bacalar taking a vacation from touring Latin America teaching week-long courses to political activists and film students about the power of using filmmaking as a tool to effect change.
Like, what is my life right now?
I walked back in the hostel afterward to ask the guy working at reception a question and through a quick little chat found out he's a goddamn physicist from Mexicali who wants to get into tourism and hospitality.
THEN… I went to my dorm room to shower and I met one of my roommates, a girl from Switzerland named Michel, who invited me for a beer after a brief conversation.
I'm fasting for the next few days, but I refuse to turn down offers for social drinks because bonding and human connection is more important to me than being hardcore in following through with my decisions.
An invitation to join her and her significant other, Tino, for a beer then turned into another conversation with a couple from Denmark – Bob and Clara – brought into the brawl during a heated discussion I was having with Tino about Star Wars. Bob and Clara, it turns out, had recently stayed in the same hostel I just left in Tulum and Bob had set a record of 15 free drinks during Humble Bumble's happy hour, a record they were hugely disappointed to find out had just been broken after they left (the record now stands at 16 drinks during happy hour, that's one drink every 3-4 minutes). I also found out they had been responsible for a certain round chess board (designed so three people could play, which blew my mind open when they began explaining the rules of a circular, three-person game of chess), which had been broken when my friend Patrick attempted a handstand one night and slammed his foot into the marble table when he fell, breaking it into pieces. Fortunately, Bob and Clara were relieved to know that the culprit had lost his balance in a handstand and smashed the table, and not that he had done a handstand on the board and broke it, which is apparently how the news made its way to the couple from Tulum.
Eventually everyone else left to get a late night bite to eat and Bob, Clara, and I got lost in a bomb-ass conversation about spirituality, the magic mushroom capital of México (don't worry, I'm headed there next), our most memorable drug stories, artificial intelligence, the significance of dreams, global consciousness, and the potential of achieving amortality (being able to live forever as long as disease, violence, or catastrophe don't kill you) in the next few decades and the implications it could have on society, the richness of the soul, and our advancement as a species.
We called it a night around midnight-thirty, and then I ran into them this morning in the dining room when Bob offered me a cup of chamomile tea (my favorite). We talked some more, I recorded a few of Bob's amazing stories (his friends' versions of the winter and summer olympics which take place annually in the woods of Denmark, and the closest he ever came to death which happened on a date in Copenhagen) to add to the collection of stories I'm starting on my Facebook page, and then they left to check into another hostel, but not before Bob came up to me and handed me a book called "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" knowing I'd love any book with a title and subject material like that. We said goodbye and Bob told me to let them know when I get to the city of magic mushrooms so they could head that way as well.
In less than a day after arriving in Bacalar I've met some awesome people, engaged in several wonderful conversations, and made super cool friends I sincerely hope to see again, whether in the magic mushroom capital of México or taking them up on their invitation to visit them in Denmark, be treated to a fantastic Christmas meal any time of the year (because it's apparently that good), and, according to Bob, try the most delicious milk anywhere in the world.
Just another day in the life, guys. Moments and experiences like this only require a willingness to put yourself out there and be genuinely interested in other people. The entire world opens up to you when you open up to it.
Do you have a similar experience? What do you love talking about with new friends? Do you make friends easier when you travel, too? Comment below and tell me about it!
- MÉRIDA – THE ADVENTURE BEGINS IN MEXICO
- REFLECTIONS ON MY TIME IN TULUM
- LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF A DREAM
- THE COST OF WALKING AWAY FROM LIFE
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