There’s no doubt for me that one of the best things in the world is to travel. If you know me or you’ve read some of my previous posts you sure know that.
But the best thing about traveling is the people I meet.
During my south american adventure in 2011 I made friends for life. I decided to start (and end) my trip in Brazil, to visit a couple of friends I met during the Camiño de Santiago de Compostela back in 2003, when I was still a teenager. A couple of friends turned into a few awesome and great friends! I met friends from my friends and we instantly became close friends. It was hard to leave.
Today I felt like dedicating a post to travel friendships. Some people we meet we don’t even ask their names. We ask the typical and very important (at that moment) questions: “Where are you from”, “where are you going from here?” and “Where are you coming from now?”. Others, we meet for a few more hours/days (on group tours, for example) and change email addresses, add as facebook friends, wish them the best and “let’s keep in touch”. There are even others that quickly become good friends. Hours feel like days, days feel like months, weeks feel like years. They become a part of your life and you promise to get together some day again. Somewhere.
That’s what happened in Brazil.
I made such good friends, I promised to go back. We would keep in touch on gtalk, facebook and so on.
A few months ago my friend Henrique (from Brazil) started a gmail chat, just a normal chat as we did once in a while. Henrique was one of the funniest people I have ever met! We instantly got along. Also, he was the happiest, most optimistic, always-laughing kind of guy. He was a blast! Your face muscles would ache when around him, caused by the amount of laughs. Most jokes would be about portuguese people, of course – brazilians have bazillions of jokes about portuguese people…go figure!
In our last conversation, in April, he told me about his plans: traveling to Europe at the end of the year or 2015 and hopefully meeting me (and visit gorgeous Lisbon he heard so much about), learn german (he loved it!) and finish his master degree. We briefly talked about how’s life treating us, and Henrique mentioned his second cancer (he had one when he was younger), for which he was already getting treatment, while studying. I was worried, of course. I didn’t now anything about it and I felt like someone squeezed my heart. Hard. I asked more about it, but Henrique was too happy and too optimistic to allow me to worry. We agreed everything would be alright (I am an optimistic too – I knew everything would be alright) with his treatment and soon he’d be cancer free to get his masters and work as a super-engineer.
Last week, my super-friend Henrique lost his battle to cancer. I got the news that he was in hospital and the scenario wasn’t pretty. I got scared. I wanted him to be OK. He promised he would come and visit me soon. He said he would play the violin for me (he was a great violinist) next time I visited him in Brazil. He always said everything would be OK. Everything was supposed to be always OK. He was still supposed to be here for a long time, call me “ora pois” (what he believed portuguese people said a lot) and “meu anjo” (my angel – he always called me that and made me smile). I still was supposed to help him improve his english (sometimes we chatted in english, so he could practise). We were supposed to meet again in Portugal and then again in Brazil. I hadn’t even heard all the portuguese jokes the brazilians have.
And then it all ended. All his dreams. All the things he planed. All the things he thought he would have time to accomplish. All the laughs he still had in him. And he was only 26 years old.
I am sad I wasn’t there to give him my hand when he needed (although he was lucky enough to have many wonderful friends who were there to support him). I am sad I didn’t visit him more. And then I look at my life, and see all the things I complain about… my so called “problems” and things that make me sad – things I can easily change. And realize that I always think that I will have all the time in the world to follow my dreams.
But remembering Henrique’s smile, I know one thing: I am happy. I am happy I’ve met him. He made my travel better. I am proud to have been his friend. I enjoyed our laughs together.
Yes, traveling the world makes you incredibly rich. But there’s something that makes you even richer: friends.
Thank you Henrique.