“Do you have any idea how lucky we are?” Sara asked as she passed the joint to our new Argentine friend Gaston. “I mean think about how many people never get the chance to do this. How many people do you know who have ever even done this?”
Granted we were high, but she was right. Sara was 27 and had been traveling for 2 months through South America. I met her while on the now infamous Mr. Hugo’s bikes and wine tour in Mendoza, Argentina.
Mr. Hugo was an older Argentine man with a welcoming heart, a mind for business and a heavy hand when pouring his home made wine for guests. I’d been invited by another group of travelers staying at my hostel and decided that the idea of a drunk bike ride in the sun was right up my alley.
After touring 4 wineries and a chocolate/Absinthe factory (nice mix huh?), my group and I posted up at Mr. Hugo’s for the “end of the tour free wine and socializing period”. Sara had talked with a Canadian girl in our group and came over and introduced herself, joining us in conversation.
We learned she had just come from Buenos Aires after finding romance with a handsome Argentine, only to wake up one morning with all of her valuables and her Casanova gone. She found out later that she wasn’t the first victim and this con man had quite the resume.
She was a pretty girl with bright blue eyes you could lose yourself in. We sparked up a conversation about my travels and writing. She promised that she’d follow my blog and it was about this point forward that our eyes kept meeting, exchanging sly smiles. As we prepared to catch the bus back into the city, Sara said she needed to get back as well, joining us on the bus into town.
She made plans with Lisa, the Canadian girl in our group, to come by our hostel later that evening. Before heading back to her hostel, Sara leaned in and kissed my cheek, “See you later.” she said smiling. We headed back to the hostel and I decided that after riding bikes and getting pleasantly drunk in 100 degree heat, a nap was in order.
I awoke around 10:30pm and after getting my bearings, I dizzily walked out to the hostels common area to grab some water to aid in repairing my impending hangover. “Hey stranger” I heard as I came around the corner. At the wooden table in the courtyard sat Sara, Lisa and their new friend Gaston, a local who they had met while I’d been napping.. They invited me to join them and I made my way over to the table still half asleep.
“We’re gonna go smoke a joint in the Plaza Independencia, you want to come?” Sarah asked.
Now I’m not a big fan of the burnout backpacker types who seem to travel more to party and live irresponsibly than to experience new places and cultures. That being said, I’m also not overly fond of the straight laced, Lonely planet, Money belt wearing types that obsess over getting pictures in front of everything that resembles a historic church or monument.
Falling somewhere in the middle, I figured smoking a joint in the plaza might be just what I was looking for and plus I needed to ease my hangover and pain from my sunburn. After all, The best travel stories seem to stem from accepted invitations.
Strolling through the plaza with 3 strangers, passing around a joint, I thought about what Sara had said moments earlier.
We were damn lucky.
The stories I’d pass along to my grand children were happening right now, with the exception whole passing a joint part.
Sara and I walked arm in arm, flirting with playful kisses. I decided to leave and head home before things got too out of control, despite the pleadings from the group. They wanted to go to a nearby club and I wasn’t feeling up to being in that kind of environment. In fact, I was a bit sleepy, go figure.
I remember waking up once more around 3:30 am that morning, hearing Sara and Lisa outside my room in the courtyard. I debated going out to join them and pulling Sara away to give her what she was seeking from me, validation of her worth that a con man had put into question.
I decided however that the con man had allegedly been in business a while and being safe was the smart play here. I lied awake playing out the scenes of our love that was never to be in my head. It seems that many times its is better there anyway…