February 16, 2016

The Travel Of Romance.

author's personal photo: Diego Cassina (not for re-use)

“Un te con leche y tres facturas por favor.”

I ask the waiter for a tea, milk and some croissants before he disappears back into the café.

It’s a cool 50 degrees Fahrenheit in Buenos Aires, and the overcast sky serves as a perfect backdrop to the plaza I am observing from this outdoor seating area. At any point, the wind will tease the raindrops away from the clouds they cling to—the same wind that teases the napkin held to the table by my teacup.

This corner café is situated in the romantic Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo, a neighborhood known for the Sunday festival currently taking place. The grey cobblestones that line these streets are the perfect accompaniment to the grey clouds that loom overhead. Local artists and vendors sit behind their stands, selling homemade goods to passers-by.

Each vendor seems to have prepared for the potentiality of rain by throwing a tarp over their makeshift storefront. Others directly sell umbrellas to the risk-averse. Among the products sold are hollowed gourds used for drinking mate (a tea popular in this region of the world), leather goods and small trinkets of Buenos Aires.

People from all walks of life pass my field of vision. A tattooed man and an unassuming lady are momentarily observed and equally appreciated. The plaza is greeted by the occasional music of a guitarist playing tango songs for any who may be so inclined to take part in the traditional Argentine dance.

I quietly smile as I watch the ebb and flow of milk dancing with the tea in my cup, sped by the stirring of my spoon.

Perhaps that smile is created by the environment I’m in, or perhaps it is the date I have planned later today. I like to think that I traveled a large distance to get here (over 5,000 miles), but the truth is that it won’t compare to the travel I’ll be doing in a few hours of time—the kind of travel that doesn’t require traversing a physical distance, but rather that moment of connection that can take us to worlds more radiant than any previously imagined or seen. Those two eyes that look back at us during a conversation hold all the wonders that lie beyond so many peoples’ view.

If we choose to enter that person’s world, we travel with them to the furthest recesses of their mind. We see the world through their eyes—all the splendors that lie hidden to the rest of the world. We suspend our disagreements so that—perhaps for the first time in their lives—under listening ears and attentive eyes, their beauty unfolds like a rose meeting its first morning dew.

And that journey goes both ways.

I bring them into my world so that hand-in-hand, we navigate the furthest depths of my experience. A stroll along the beach’s edge becomes the white crests of the waves crashing along the shore, the sensation of the sand beneath our feet and the echoes of our laughter along the cliffs at our backs. Castles are constructed before their eyes. It isn’t until I leave the story-telling state that I look across the table and see the smile on their face. That’s when I know that they’ve been there. They’ve traveled with me through the repository of my human experience. They know where I have gone. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.

Chris McCandles, subject of Into the Wild, once said: “The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

When all is said and done, we return home believing that that is the end of our journey—and sometimes it is. There are times when we return from our travels having been satiated. We enjoy a place precisely because it is foreign, but as soon as the novelty wears thin, we find ourselves looking for new adventure. Our eyes scan the horizon.

But there are times when that initial journey only represents the beginning. Those two eyes that look at us from across the table hold the ticket to a terrain that is constantly changing, ever evolving, so each visit is replete with new findings.

Sometimes, I am filled with an abundance of curiosity at the end of my time, rather than an abundance of time at the end of my curiosity. In the words of Carl Sagan, “The open road softly calls.”

It is those moments that I longingly look out to that point where the road meets the horizon. Anyone who has traveled knows the enormous potential that that road holds. Sometimes, after having traveled to that distant location, the man that returns is not the same one that previously left. He’s experienced something different. He’s experienced a place where he belongs, a world that carries an undercurrent of similarity—a feeling that of all the places he’s been to, those two eyes staring back at him don’t represent a distant world. They represent home.

Just at this moment, the rain begins to fall and disrupts me from my thought process. I finish my tea and replace the napkin with pesos. I gaze up to the point where the road meets the horizon and take the first step. I’m coming home.


Author: Diego Cassina 

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Author’s own.

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