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A Chance Meeting

By Todd Maguire on June 21, 2013 in Other

Photo: Todd Maguire

Photo: Todd Maguire

The two porters spotted the lone traveller amidst a flurry of passport documents, baggage and a wad of foreign currency. Pedro was a knockabout lad but his travel resumé was severely limited. He had been thrust into this unfamiliar territory alone as his program had not synchronized with that of the others. The sights, the sounds, the aromas, the frantic pace of the Indonesian capital city and a constant lather of sweat were an unrelenting reminder that he was a long way from home.

It was good fortune that the pair of friendly luggage porters spotted the lost soul. They preyed on the rare Western visitor in order to assist and earn a dollar, minimal English enhanced by universally infectious smiles. Luckily for Pedro, their assistance to reach his connecting flight was the best $10 he’d ever spent.

At the other end of the foreign airport were two travellers who had been here before. Familiar turf. They were on the final leg of an arduous journey to rendezvous with a handful of selected friends, a long way from home. They patiently waited. Down time in airport transfer was second nature. Unbeknown to them, sitting at the other end of the bustling airport, only two hundred paces away, was Pedro. They were on the same route.

Remarkably, the seasoned travellers were also approached by the two luggage porters. The porters held a soiled, dog-eared paper with Pedro’s name scrawled upon it. The two travellers could not believe their eyes. This was proof that their friend had somehow made it this far.

“When did you see him?” they excitedly enquired with genuine concern for Pedro the lone traveller’s welfare.

“Yesterday. I see your friend Pedro, yesterday,” was the reply.

Confusion set in. The seasoned travellers were baffled. They were supposed to meet Pedro for a particular flight today to end their journey together as a team. Was Pedro here a day too early before then shamefully retreating? Had their friend been engulfed by the crazy Muslim capital of Indonesia? Where had he taken a wrong turn? Was he huddled in a corner fearing for his life? Their minds raced full of the worst scenarios.

The seasoned travellers were the first to board the flight via the sneaky pay-as-you go comfort lounge. They waited on the plane, combing the other travellers for their friend. There was nothing more they could do.

As the final passengers boarded their fears subsided. Trudging along the blazing tarmac in a sweating mess surrounded by locals carrying boxes with string handles was Pedro. He had finally made it. He was in a state of unbridled frenzy and bewilderment, but fortunately, he was safe.

There was great celebration as the three were united. But what was the reason for all the confusion? It goes back to the happy pair of local porters. The simple language barrier had confused one simple but crucial word. Rather than saying “yesterday” the porters actually meant to say, “yes… today! I see your friend Pedro… yes, today.”

Pedro finally began to relax as the tour unfolded before him. The trio enjoyed the flight in anticipation of further confusion to follow. Misunderstanding was expected and hurdles were a constant presence in the far reaches of the western Indonesian archipelago in which they were travelling.

And, almost overnight, through the trials and tribulations, young Pedro had miraculously become a seasoned traveller.