Why do you play this game?
By one of the many, but probably one of the more “all-or-nothing”, Andrew Currie’s of this world.
It’s not for the points… I say that even though I am about to tell you about my first 10 pointer that I scored on Monday with Luis. Also, let’s be honest, no one really gives a hoot and two quarters about the points. However, for me, they have purpose.
So, how did you score those 10 “very meaningful” points you ask?
6 friends (2 of which I had previously scored points from) and I decided we wanted to go for a walk and hopefully get a peak at Cotopaxi. We met (what we thought was) early in order to get walking by 9:30am. When we reached Amaguaña, about an hour bus ride outside of Quito, I asked Luis to take us to the refugio, about a 20 minute drive over bumpy cobblestones. This 63 year old local happily obliged for a fee of U$15 between the 7 of us.
Why do you play this game?
At this point, I had two options:
1. I could jump in the back tray of the utility vehicle and chat shit with my mates (who I was happily about to chat shit with for 7 hours while ascending a massive mountain at over 3000m above sea level),
i.e. I could stay in my comfort zone;
2. I could choose to sit up front, practice my Spanish and maybe learn something about the culture I currently live in/am travelling through.
i.e. I could push myself to be vunerable, to make mistakes and to learn, all with the knowledge that I could possibly grow as a result.
Why do you play this game?
Without this game I may have chosen to stay in my comfort zone. Instead, I chatted with Luis and learned about his life:
He had been shuttling people like us since 5 am in the morning, even though we did not see another soul out on the trails.
He has been to Colombia and Peru but nowhere else in this amazing world of ours. However, “why would I go anywhere else when I live in such an amazingly diverse country. From beaches to snowcapped volcanoes, untouched jungle to the diversity of the Galápagos Islands. What other country in the world has this?” Touché my friend. Touché.
(For those of you playing along at this point, I’m on 2 points without the Spanish double… for those of you that don’t know the rules check out the link above)
Once we reached our destination around 9:30am, Luis offered me his number so that he could come and pick us up after we’d finished walking. I happily obliged and we started our ascent to (hopefully) reach 4200m and be in awe of Cotopaxi by lunch time.
How wrong I was. I had an amazing day with some great people regardless of this, but the following is just a quick note on this for anyone who hopes to see Cotopaxi while doing this walk.
After 3.5 hours of walking, mostly uphill plus a bit of “the road less travelled” we hit a wall that would have taken us another hour to go around.
So, as we didn’t have our climbing gear, we had no choice but to head back before the clouds on the horizon that looked so menacing drenched us with their contents.
I’ve never heard anything like it. Those clouds I spoke of unleashed a fury of thunder, lightning, rain and hail as we descended through beautiful bushland that could easily have passed for Australian country side had it not been for the bamboo popping up all around us. One of the cracks of thunder knocked me sideways as my “water resistant” jacket kept my upper half dry. At this point all I could think about was calling Luis so that we could get home and dry out ASAP.
When we reached the bottom, I called Luis who told me he was (literal translation) “already there waiting for us” (cultural translation) “I’ll be there in 20 minutes.”
When he arrived the crew, soaked from head to toe, piled into the back while I squelched my way to sit next to Luis. On the way down:
I learned that Luis has a standard response to his wife’s question “what would you like for dinner?” So, basically;
Warning: if you ask me what I want for dinner, I’ll say “chicken and potatoes”.
Also, after seeing a dog that looked like a sheep, I learned the word for sheep in Spanish, even though it took about 5 minutes for us to get to the point.
I learned about Luis’ 4 children and 10 grandchildren and the happiness that they bring him everyday.
And, lastly, my hard work in learning the local language was validated as Luis told me how much he likes tourists like me. He likes that I can (or a least try to) communicate in the local language as opposed to those who repeat what they have already said in English, just louder, in order to try and get their point across.
As we neared the bottom, Luis offered me his hand as he said “I feel like we are friends”. I shook his hand in agreement but as I did I told him something about myself.
I hug my friends.
I don’t care if they are male or female, ESPECIALLY if I don’t know when I’ll see them again. So, as we collected our money to pay this gentleman who was pointing us in the direction of the nearest bus to Quito, I wandered around to the other side of this ute and gave him a big hug… it wasn’t even awkward.
As I hugged Luis, I thought about all of the people around the world that I’d love to give a big hug right now. It’s been way too long since I’ve been able to embrace my family and people that mean so much to me, all because I want to be here, experiencing a different culture, learning and new language, and getting amongst beautiful landscapes and activities with new friends that I hope will be part of my life for years to come.
So, if you are reading this, please know that even though I might not be with you, I hugged you with all my mind (might) on Monday and I can’t wait for the next time I can actually hug you!
P.S. This day was exciting for two reasons regarding the game:
- 10 points because everything achieved in Spanish = double points.
- I just cracked 500 for the year!
But… I don’t do this for the points.
This is about building connection where I otherwise might not.
This is about forcing myself to speak in another language when otherwise I might not.
This is about learning about people and what makes different people tick.
This is about researching without the need for a guidebook.
This is about having interesting conversations and being inspired by the people I meet.
This is about hopefully leaving people with another reason to remember that morning, afternoon, day, week or 10 month period that I have been lucky enough to spend time with these people.
This is about building, or feeling part of, a community wherever I am.
This is about doing something I’ve wanted to do for a while… writing.
And, this is fun.