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19 kinds of meat for a vegetarian
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view of Sugar Loaf and harbor
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; May 12, 2005

fast friends

So here I am, at Iguazu Falls (one of the most amazing places on the planet, mind you), vainly trying to capture some of it with the camera. Eventually, Susan nudges me to indicate that it would be polite to let some other people out on the ledge now, whether I've finished or not. Embarrassed, I move out of the way, not realizing that these two guys had been waiting. They smile, step in, snap a few pictures, and then ask if we'd take one of them together. Of course we will. So they lean against the railing with the Falls in the background, and I take the shot. Then they turn around and we realize that they're wearing the same shirt. It has a map of Argentina on it, with a red line going the length from north to south. We soon discover that they are just finishing a 74-day bike ride through Argentina. Iguazu Falls, on the border of Brazil and Argentina, marks the conclusion of their journey and today is somewhat of a celebration for them. Their names are Diego and Javier, from Spain.

Javier's shirt

We meet a lot of people while traveling – that’s part of the fun. Usually these meetings are enjoyable, we learn or hear about something interesting, and are on our way. But once in a while, something elevates these chance encounters; the conversation and laughter flow freely and it’s as though we’ve found best friends that have been hiding somewhere. For reasons that are hard to explain, Diego and Javier were suddenly very dear to us. We wanted to know everything about their trip. What was the hardest part? What was most memorable? How did they carry all that stuff on their bikes? Do their clothes stink worse than ours?

Diego & Javier at Iguazu Falls

Without really planning on it or even making a conscious decision to do so, we end up spending the rest of the day with them, marveling at the falls.

We tentatively planned to meet up the following day, on the Argentinean side of the falls, but none of us were sure about the timing, so we were quite surprised (and very pleased) to hear them yelling at us from the jeep that was pulling up to drive us to the boat ride near the falls. Whoohoo - what luck!

Diego, Liz, Claire, Javier, and us at Iguazu Falls

During and after the boat ride, the four of us joined with another pair of world travelers. Liz and Claire are just starting their round-the-world trip, so of course we had plenty to talk about. And why wouldn’t they want to chat with us, since we’re hanging out with two tall, good-looking, athletic Spanish guys? Another wonderful day ensued, the six of us exploring the falls en masse like a group of old friends, snapping pictures together like we were there on some sort of reunion.

Will we ever see them again? We hope so. Will we remember them forever? Absolutely.

© 2004-2012 susan & grace, all rights reserved

-- comments from readers --


Oh that certainly brought back many memories! Very fond. That day was wonderful - the falls in the background (foreground perhaps), you guys, the dear Spaniards and a group of great humour. Very important that latter. I have to say that I fell in love with Diego and Javiar too (What do they have that is so special? Can you bottle it?) - and am in contact with them, too. Especially Diego who I might see in Spain at the end of my trip, luck allowing.

So, having aged myself irreparably with three moinths of this Buenos Aires nightowlness (y más) and having learnt a fair amount of Spanish, I am changing my plans. New Zealand and Australia will have to wait for another trip (I have to say that I am more in love with latinoamericano culture) - I'm buying myself a passage to Colombia and Venezuela for a couple of months instead, meeting up later with a Mexican writer encountered in Ushuaia and then skipping Oz bar Perth to see my relatives to jump to Asia. Full Latino immersion!

Did you know that Diego and Javiar are planning another trip together? Crazy cyclists...

--Liz [one of the world travelers in the story]; Oct 12, 2005