Be prepared for several postings coming quickly to catch you up on the many things that have happened in the past two days! If I can whomp up the energy (much was spent yesterday), I will write several stories today. Mostly though, I just want to curl up and go back to sleep because I climbed a big chunk of mountain yesterday…it`s exhausting to do that at 14,880 feet, dontcha`know?
But how did I get myself to that elevation? The story begins on Monday, day before yesterday, when I finally made it to Mitad del Mundo, near Quito, Ecuador, which I had tried for and given up on earlier, due to heavy rains. Such a blessing those rains turned out to be! I wouldn`t have wanted to be there at the rather-touristy, monument-happy, souvenir-filled splash made of the Equator with all the Sunday crowds come to hear a big concert performance. Wandering about an almost-deserted place on the sunny weekday was just fine with me.
After taking the obligatory photographs at Point Zero, I decided on a cup of hot chocolate before beginning the long bus ride back to downtown Quito. Soon, a couple of friendly Americans asked if they could share my outdoor table and we got to talking. Both are from Dallas, Texas, though Jose is originally from Lima, Peru, and they were on their way back to his home for his sister`s wedding on Saturday, taking a few days of sightseeing in Ecuador first. Tall, blond, blue-eyed Carl is a high school Math teacher and Jose, whose smile just lights up the planet, works for American Airlines, earning them free mileage to explore the world on stand-by.
Well, it wasn`t long before I realized that we three are IGF`s or InterGalactic Friends. Have I adequately explained this term on this blog? My friends and relatives have heard me speak of it every time this happens. It`s a word that I coined to describe a most unusual friendship which happens to me on a regular, but infrequent, basis and it`s the only way I know to quantify this consistent set of conditions that happens between me and certain people whom I meet in passing during these years of my life.
(Oh Blush! It just occurred to me to check this out on Wikipedia to see if the phrase was already in circulation and, Lordy, Lordy, some American punk rock group called the Beastie Boys has recorded a song called Intergalactic Friends. Yoicks! I couldn`t find the lyrics though I`ll persist some other day…so I have no idea whose company I`m in or what they`ve had to say on the subject. But, no matter. I have a very well-developed idea of what I`m talking about, so please try not to be overly-influenced by what the punk rock crowd suggests, unless they feel the same way, of course.)
In my book, an IGF sticks out like a very healthy thumb, among the people I meet along the road of life. One tipoff is that there is absolutely no time spent in the usual conversational sparring that makes up a new acquaintance. We begin from a point of immediate familiarity and trust, as if we´ve recognized each other across the room. Next, we talk quickly and thoroughly, as if we are catching each other up on the details of life since last we met. And that`s the crux of the matter, as I always wind up explaining to a newly-discovered IGF; it`s as if, when we parted in some long-ago life, we wondered aloud about whether we would be able to recognize each other when our paths crossed in our next life, our next “galaxy,” as we spun along our individual paths through the dimensions.
And unfailingly, no matter what their personal religious or philosophical background may be, not one IGF has ever questioned this theory when I put it forth to them, because only that string of cosmic explanation could possibly explain the weird feeling of closeness that we feel bound up in at that moment. It´s just not the norm; though it feels like the most normal of all connections at the time. We immediately slouch into each other in an “old shoe” relationship, although it simultaneously contains more spark than other friendships. This can happen with men friends and women friends and it just lights up the landscape of life. Just two weeks ago, I wrote about discovering Luis and Salome, my two wonderful IGF`s working in the Medellin, Colombia, Casa Kiwi Hostel. Now, here are Jose and Carl whose paths collided with mine at the equator in Ecuador and who have brightened my past 48 hours.
Fawn Germer, back home in Clearwater, Florida, is almost the only IGF whom I have seen beyond the initial encounter, due to the fact that we both live in the same place. I did keep in touch with two British IGFs for almost a year before we finally lost touch. But, over the past nearly five years now, the depth and quality of that friendship with Fawn has never slackened. I wish I could keep all my IGFs so close in proximity, but I continue to treasure them all. Actually, I believe that a briefness of the flash is part of the equation in most cases.
Stay tuned for the story of how we three, my equatorial buddies and I, conquered the icy slopes of Cotopaxi Volcano yesterday. But now I must head back to the hostel for a lie-down, as the mere memory of that glorious climb absolutely exhausts me. Magical!