It is not only a surprise but also a delight when you run into someone you know while traveling in another city, state or country.
Even if San Miguel de Allende in Mexico is one of the more popular cities in the world, it still is shocking and thrilling to bump into hometown folks.
That happened recently as I entered a store looking for a bargain, and was stopped by someone asking if my last name was Johnson and my first name was Margo. I hesitated, wondering if I was on a ‘hit’ list, or if this was a bill collector, or if I had just won the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. With trepidation I nodded my head and looked closely to discover I knew this gent. He, his wife and another couple from ‘home’ were visiting in SMA.
Now who would have thought I’d meet folks from Fayette County, Texas in a consignment store in SMA? Not me, but here we were chatting away as though we were in front of Bistro 108 on Main St in La Grange.
I have seen people I know in airports, and even ran into a local couple some years ago in Las Vegas, but, in another country? Weird, if you ask me.
The world is becoming smaller as accessibility increases. We hop a plane and scurry to parts of the world previously unknown. We meet new people, experience unique customs, breath different air, and see life through lens of diversity.
We Americans tend to think our way is the best way. Our customs are better, our food is tastier, our beliefs are more authentic.
I must remind myself to set aside assumptions I know best, and relax into a culture that perhaps has been in existence far longer than what I know. Who is to say my paths are more fulfilling, healthier, wiser, worthier, superior?
My way is better because it is the way I know. I’m comfortable with how I see things, and think it is my ‘duty’ to enlighten others to a fresh outlook, while doggedly refusing to acknowledge the worthiness of their traditions and practices.
Being immersed in the Mexican culture has challenged me to shift, to recognize my role is not to judge how someone else lives or attempt to change it, but to enjoy the variances.
After all, we are neighbors, living side by side, sharing this planet, and making our way through the forest of life, yearning to do no harm and not be harmed.
It is a treat to reunite with someone we know from the ‘other’ world, just as it is a delicacy to share a park bench with a woman who has born and reared children who make tortillas by hand, sweep their home stoops each morning, and who build cobble stone roads by hand, content to work and play with simplicity and acceptance.
Ain’t life grand?