Sunday, June 2, 2013

Bolivia to France - 5 Years Later

Some of you may recall that my father traveled around the world by himself 5 years ago. One of his stops was in Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia - the salt flats.

If you've never been (and I'm guessing most of you have not been), it's a very remote part of Bolivia (10 hour bus ride from the capital, La Paz).

There's not a lot to do there, so hopefully you've already booked the 3 day/2 night tour where you and 6 strangers will be crammed into a Toyota Landrover driving for hours through the massive salt flats to see some of the most unique and interesting natural sights you'll ever see.

The reason I bring up my father's Bolivia adventure 5 years later is because on that trip, he met a few new friends, including Markus.

Markus (seen here in the light grey jacket) was from Austria and was going to spend a lot of time in South America for work. He and my father were around the same age (which was ancient for a backpacker) and when they weren't traveling, they were both working professionals. Along with some of the others in the group, everyone on their tour made some new international friends.

As it turned out, both my father and Markus were heading to Buenos Aires, Argentina after Boliva so they decided to meet up when they both arrived and explore BA with a familiar face.

My father wanted some Argentine steak so they went to La Cabrera, a famous BA steakhouse in the Palermo district. Despite Markus being a vegetarian at the time, my father coerced convinced him to try some of the world renowned beef.

After Buenos Aires, my father went off to Iguazu Falls, then met up with Rob (a New York friend) in Brazil where he relaxed on the beaches of Morro de Sao Paulo, explored the Afro-Brazilian culture of Salvador and indulged in the urban charms of Rio de Janiero.

One day in Rio, he and Rob were visiting the favelas (slums) on an organized favela tour. As he was going through the dilapidated homes, he heard his name called. It was Markus.

Markus and his friends were on the same organized Favela tour in Rio. Small world? Or perhaps it's a common occurrence when you're on the "Gringo Trail" from Lima to Buenos Aires.

Fast forward to 2013. In those short five years, my father and mother got married (2009), my mother moved to the United States (2010), I was born (2011), my father left his job again (2012) and we were off traveling around the world. This time, we were in Paris.

As an avid reader of my blog, Markus saw that we'd be in Paris the same week he and his family would be there. So he reached out to my father, and they met up for lunch to catch up. Interestingly enough, Markus also met the love of his life on that 2008 trip. They too were married soon after and had their first child, a beautiful daughter named Sara. Sara was about 1 year older than me, but we got along swimmingly. Here we all are in the Tuileries Garden near the Louvre.

I guess whenever you think your life is so unique, there might be someone else in the world along that same exact path. And the discovery of that fellow traveler doesn't make your individual life any less special, but rather, makes Life that much more amazing.

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