Three years ago today, on the second floor of a mausoleum, in a quiet section of the historic Cementerio de San Pedro in Medellin, Colombia, an old woman walked past me carrying a single yellow flower.
She spoke a few words in Spanish that I didn't understand. But when I saw her looking up forlornly at the wall of vaults, I realized what she had asked of me.
I dragged a nearby work bench over to stand on, took the flower from her hand, climbed up and managed to make it stay where she wanted it.
At that moment she started weeping uncontrollably, at first crying out with gratitude for the simple act I'd done, then she could not stop the heavy flow of tears and heaving sobs of grief.
I carefully climbed down off the rickety bench and embraced her, not knowing what else to do. Then long-repressed, painful thoughts of my own lost loved ones rushed to my memory’s fore, and I began sharing my own tears with hers.
After a few moments I used the few Spanish words I knew to express my sorrow, “Lo siento, mi amiga,” kissed her softly on the head and walked away to recompose myself.
I continued wandering around the cemetery but couldn't stop thinking about those few moments when two people who, until that moment were complete strangers, shared an expression of profound grief over the loss of loved ones that’s universally understood.
Before leaving the cemetery, I was drawn back toward where we’d met and from the ground looking up, I saw her shriveled figure still there in that outer corridor, arm draped wearily over the railing for support, her gaze still fixed on that single yellow flower.
I turned back and left the cemetery with the image indelibly etched in my mind, knowing what had happened there would be as memorable a travel moment as any I might ever have.
Quotes For A Good Life On The Road
“A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth.”
-- Albert Einstein
See my complete collection of "Quotes For The Road" by clicking "More" in the dropdown menu above.
Who Am I?
I'm a retired journalist from Hawaii who tired quickly of retirement and hit the road as a slow, solo world traveler in August 2016. I've spent time in 20 countries on four continents. Currently I'm in sunny Merida, Mexico, waiting out developments in the coronavirus crisis before moving on. Meanwhile, learn more about me and my travels at Nomadic Matt, and Expat Focus, and in a great story by veteran Borneo newsman and prolific author James Ritchie, about our memorable meeting in Malaysia, A Confluence of Adventure Writers .
Also online ...
GARIFUNA SETTLEMENT DAY
Still the most authentic, lively and colorful local cultural festival I've seen on the road.
I found this Alternative Arts and Music Festival in the Amazon highlands of Peru. What a find!
Solas "Best Travel Writing" Awards
Saysha: What Happened?
13th Annual Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing
(Read it here)