As part of our training, we took a visit to a wet market to identify fish and get some practice with our Tagalog. I’m working on a blog detailing our training that I’ll post later this week…so what I really want to talk about is Harold. Don’t worry, I haven’t gone and found myself a boyfriend or adopted a new dog or made friends with a volleyball, as one might expect when living on an island in the Pacific Ocean.
I met Harold today, just briefly, and yet he struck a more-than-pleasant chord within me. Harold is a butcher who let me photograph his stall-filled with hanging ox tongues and feet- at the market today. He saw me with my DSLR and ran over to his friends stall where he struck a pose beckoning me to take a photo. I complied (see below) and he zoomed back over to me and asked me my name, in English. I replied in Tagalog with my name and ‘at ikaw?’ (and you) to which he responded: Harold. He then asked me where I was from and I responded with ‘America’ and he smiled and nodded in understanding. So I parroted him again, ‘Taga saan ka?’ (where are you from) and as quick as the flap of a hummingbird’s wings, dead-panned, and straight-faced, Harold looks up at me from this plastic chair and says: Italy! I pause for a second, and a moment later we are all laughing; Harold, the fellow vendors, and I… Like old friends with an inside joke.
I can’t really pinpoint where the magic in this moment came from. Harold is certainly a big part of it, and I am smiling as I think over the moment and his cleverness. I guess, I believe there is something wonderful about overcoming a language barrier to share a laugh with a stranger from the other side of the world. It makes my heart swell: a feeling worth experiencing a thousand times over, perhaps an essential part of what makes travel so great and why I may never stop doing it. And I guess that is worth sharing.