With a somewhat disappointed face I look down at my plate. Despite all the free condiments that are available in the kitchen I did not have the powers to turn my budget meal into a culinary delight.
It's been over a day since I waved everybody from the Coffee Ranch goodbye and took the bus to Uvita, a peaceful hostel on the Pacific coast. The hostel is on the beach and consists mainly of wood timbered treehouses. I sigh deeply, grab my plate and decide to make the best out of the brown mash that patiently waits on my plate, ready to kill the taste buds on my tongue. I slide towards the long dining table and sit next to a group of American teenagers. They talk about all the hot `chicas` that they met on the beach and in the hostel and how their surf moves would clearly make a deep impression on the ladies. I smile, pleased as I am that I, with my 25 years, are wide beyond their category and thus do not have to come up with creative rejections. Opposite of me sits a boy of my age. He rolls his eyes sarcastically, clearly showing his displeasure of the behavior of the teens. He looks at them and then at me, while he lifts up his right hand as if he shoots himself in the head. I chuckle. "I hate Americans" he says, "and I am one myself. So I can say it." I peek at the guys next to me, but they are so full of all the beautiful women that they don’t hear a thing. I raise my glass of water and while my tap water cheerfully touches his beer, we introduce ourselves to each other. "Enjoying your meal?" He asks. "It is food." I reply with a nod. He laughs: "I like you." Dennis appeared to be on the road for more than three month, much like myself. After more than a year, 70 hours per week working in the psychiatric ward, his battery was depleted. He resigned and bought a one-way ticket to Colombia. “The only thing that I have done since is going to the hostel, to the beach, to the hostel to the bus, to the next place. I do not care what kind of park, what kind of volcano, whatever godforsaken mountain ... nothing! The only thing I do is parking my butt on beach and let myself float around in the sea.” He concludes his story with legs and arms outstretched, as if he imagines himself on the spot in the ocean. I just piss in my pants with laughter.
There's a guy passing behind me and Dennis follows him with his eyes. That gives me the green light to further questions about the conclusion that I had drawn from the moment our conversation started; "Is it difficult to travel alone when you bat on the other team?” Dennis looks at me with admiration. "You're a smart girl." He sighs deeply, "Yes it is hard, the girls are often looking for someone who wants more than just a good conversation and the men, well... they are scared that you want more than just a good conversation.” I understand him, but I also confront him with the fact that he himself places people in a cubicle as well. We all do it. It creates order in our heads and as long as we do not express an opinion on to it, I do not see what's wrong with it. “But people judge me, I feel it” and the tears begin to stream down his cheeks. “I think you only see a mirror of your own judgment” I reply, and we stare at each other. “Are you the new Oprah or something?” He asks and we both burst out with laughter. “But you have a good point.”
Anna, my German roommate suddenly jumps on my back and put two beers in front of us. “Come lovebirds, let’s go to the beach! Time for a campfire.” Dennis and I give each other a big wink and follow with beer in hand, firewood and guitars, ready for the beach.
Everyone I speak to that night has issues, uncertainties. That does not matter. Certainly not now. The fire is high, the beer is cold, the stars shine and we sing songs. And Dennis.... he is making friends.... with the American teenagers. Yet this turned out not so bad after all.
After a burn-out it was time for a change. I quit my job, sold my stuff and bought a one-way ticket to the Dominican Republic. What was supposed to be a 4 month adventure turned into 2,5 years and counting......
Photo by: Vanessa Marques Barreto