While in the little town of Longquimay, Chile, one of the people who befriended me was Jaime, the young chef at the hostel where I was staying. Jaime kept an eye on me, asking me where I was going and what I was doing. He was patient with me when my Spanish repeatedly faltered during the various conversations we had. He showed a genuine curiosity about how I wound up in Chile and what it was like in New York, my home State. During our talks I found out that Jaime’s home was in Temuco, a city more than two hours east of Lonquimay. He worked at the restaurant to earn money for his family in Temuco, who he visited whenever he was given time off, which wasn’t often.
On the morning that I left Lonquimay, Jaime and I stood outside the hostel, squinting in the bright sunshine, saying our goodbyes. Jaime removed the rosary that hung from around his neck, and told me that he wanted me to have it. In giving me the rosary, he wished me safe travels, that I go with God and the Christ spirit. I could see the sincerity in his eyes and hear it in his voice. I was deeply moved by his gesture. I thanked him, and told him that I felt lucky to have met him.
While on the bus pulling out of Lonquimay, I held the rosary in my hand, thinking about the heartfelt intent for safe travel that it signified. I touched the black beads with my fingers, thinking about the wonderful people I’d met during my travels. While I still felt some fear about the journey ahead to unfamiliar places, I knew that my path into the unknown would offer more wonderful people. I knew that the best way to deal with my fears and anxieties was to be sociable, to embrace the kindness, compassion, curiosity, and openness of others I’d meet along the way. For in the sharing of one’s self with another, home becomes anywhere and everywhere.
Jaime studying a glass of Chilean vino tino
Mi Collar de Jesus