Most of us know what it is like to meet someone and know instantly that we were meant to be friends. This past week, I said goodbye to someone who, although I only knew her for a short time, quickly held a special place in my heart.
Shortly after I moved into my house, I passed a girl on my morning beach walk that I had never seen in town. We acknowledged each other and went on. I continued to see her each morning for several days and continued to have a sense that she was someone I should meet. So finally after an, “If I see her one more time” commitment, I actually encountered her far down the beach in my old stomping grounds. I returned a week after moving to visit my doggie friends and just as I was climbing up the beach embankment to head down the path towards the road to find them, Tag and Vera came bounding out of nowhere to practically tackle me with their puppy love, just as she was coming back down the beach to see it. She chuckled at witnessing the encounter and so I finally walked over to meet her. After a brief exchange, I learned that she had been here right around a week and was at the hotel next door to my development in a volunteer work exchange capacity. I asked her why she had come to Ecuador and she said, “I know it sounds crazy, but I believe I was led here.” Well, that certainly got my attention and I said we should get together and talk. A few days later, on a Sunday, I sent up an “If I see her today, God, I’ll ask her over for a visit,” and sure enough, I did both! When she came that afternoon for tea, we discovered a whole host of other similarities, including (unfortunately) being divorced, the same age, and having a love for animals, nature, chocolate and all things Winnie the Pooh!
That Wednesday, I invited her along for my weekly Manta shopping trip and it was then that she told me things were not working out very well in her situation at the hotel. So I offered to take her to Puerto Lopez, introduce her around at some of the hostels that I had previously spent a day checking out and meeting the owners (for future reference of anyone that might want to know options of places to stay) and ask if any of them would have a need for what she could do (she can give massage, teach yoga, do manicures/pedicures, etc. in addition to just regular work). The couple at one of the hostels (honestly my favorite) was interested and contacted her later in the week and we returned together a few days afterwards for them to discuss the possibilities and work out a deal. So she gave her notice at the hotel and after about a month of being next door to me, moved to Puerto Lopez. After that, I went to visit her about once a week and we would have lunch, hang out, visit, shop, swim in the pool, etc. The time we spent together always went so fast and it was amazing how many more similarities we would discover.
But now, with an expiring visa and round trip ticket, it is time for her to return to the states and search out the next leg of her adventure. (She is, in fact, flying out even as I type). So this past Saturday, I went to visit her one last time. We both enjoyed “gifting” each other with little things along the way (lunch, ice cream bars, special rocks and she even bequeathed to me her Winnie the Pooh beach towel!) – but the time we got to spend together was the greatest gift of all. It was really nice, even for a short while, to have a “hang out” girlfriend again.
I know, whether our paths cross again or not, that we met “for such a time as this” and we will continue to stay in touch. So this blog is to say, “Vaya con Dios,” to my special friend, Michelle.