Everybody loves a good meet cute. Ours wasn’t particularly romantic – in fact, it was quite the opposite! As with many get-togethers, it began with an alcohol-fueled night at a hostel in Brazil where fun was had and names were forgotten… Later, however, it took an unexpectedly dark turn and we were thrown together in an awkward and uncomfortable situation which is not usually part of your average holiday fling narrative.
After living in Mexico for a year, I was travelling alone around South America for two months before heading back to the UK. During my last few weeks, I made a friend in Salta, Argentina and we decided to go to Iguazu Falls together. We arrived to, incidentally, one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in on the Brazilian side, Foz de Iguaçu. After spending two days visitng the falls, it was a Saturday night and everybody in the hostel was drinking, socialising – your typical hostel scene. Let’s just say, there were some very strong caipirinhas involved that night.
The next morning, I woke up with a terrible headache, and we parted ways. I was headed to Cordóba, Argentina before spending my final days in Buenos Aires, while him and his friends were headed to Florianopolis and continuing through Brazil. I politely declined their invitation to join them, a decision which I immediately regretted as I arrived to a cold, rainy Cordóba. When Alberto sent me some beautiful photos of Floripa, I threw caution to the wind and made the brazen decision to join him. After all, it was my last few weeks in Latin America, the least I deserved was some sunshine and a little holiday romance!
After a two days in Floripa, I knew I had made the right decision. We talked, we laughed, we had a lot of fun. One night, when all the guests had gone out, we went to my dorm. However, one of the hostel-workers, a lechy, 30-something year-old Brazilian, refused to let us be alone together. We were undeterred by the unreasonable, moody Brazilian, and, after a drink or two, I persuaded Alberto to climb over the neighbour’s roof to my dormitory where I let him in the window (in hindsight a very silly idea!).
We thought we’d got away with it until Julio came banging on the door minutes later. He entered, raging, looking under the beds for Alberto, while Alberto hid outside the window in his boxers and flip-flops. This comical scene took dark twist when the reason for Julio’s overreaction came to light as he made some lewd comment at me and and groped me! I immediately jumped away in shock and anger, yelling for him to get out and calling for Alberto. When Alberto tried to confront Julio (with words!), Julio grabbed Alberto by the neck. I dragged Alberto away and out of the hostel before it could get worse.
It was safe to say our evening was soured. Up until then, it had been just a bit of light-hearted, romantic fun. We had had a laugh and some interesting conversations – no illusions, and nothing to lose! However, this sobering situation brought up real social issues of machismo, gender and sexual harassment… pretty serious topics when you’ve only know each other for a few days.
On the outside, we were worlds apart. But suddenly we had to confront those walls that divided our cultures. How one deals with such a situation says a lot about who you are. We talked a lot that night, and those walls that separated us came crashing down – and we realised we had more in common than you might think.
Perhaps what had happened was a blessing a disguise. It certainly brought us closer together. We moved to the hostel across the river, where we had more privacy. We spent another couple of days together, still talking about anything and everything. After a teary goodbye, we went our separate ways – I, to Buenos aires, my last stop before flying home to London, and he – to Sao Paulo for a Vipassana meditation course.
We kept in touch. What was initially an extensive list of recommendations for Buenos Aires and his incredible experience at Vipassana became shamelessly geeky sharing of interesting articles and book recommendations. Over time, this became deeper discussions about the meaning of life during semi-regular phone calls. It was weird, but nice.
I already knew London wasn’t where I wanted to be. It was lovely to see friends and family, but I knew I would be off again as soon as I could save enough money. Luckily, my best friend and soul sister (we met in Mexico that year teaching English) had the same desire to return to Latin America. After some consideration, we decided that Colombia would be our next destination.
I won’t lie and pretend I didn’t hope I would see Alberto again… I think we were certainly both nervous about seeing each other again – it was strange for both of us; we weren’t really sure what to expect from each other. But when we met up, it was so normal, as if we hadn’t not seen each other for a year – it was the same conversations that we had been sharing, but in person. How quickly everything just fell into place came as a surprise to both of us, it was easy – aside from a few minor culture-clash related relationship issues – we just fell into this routine and it was amazing.
When we met that fateful night in Iguaçu, I had been travelling solo, he had been travelling with friends. We were each on our own individual paths of discovery, of exploring and learning about different cultures. Crossing paths changed everything, leading us on a new and exciting path… A path where we can share our passions, not only with each other but with the world. This blog is fruit of those passions – of travel, writing, photography, languages, cultures, adventure – where we hope to share our experiences and bare our souls to the world, together.
It started with a few days of meaningless fun, and little did we know, we would end up sharing our dreams.