I met this beautiful old man yesterday. He is 95. Can you believe what it’s like to be 95? I can’t. And let me tell you, this guy is so full of life that even a 18-year-old should be jealous:
Yesterday I hitchhiked all the way from Bacalar, Mexico, to a tiny little town called Chunox across the Belizean border. It took me 5 hours and 4 rides to get there. Everyone was so generous and I heard so many beautiful stories again (its great how they all speak English here!!). As I walked through the tiny village after my last hitch, trying to find the only bus stop in town, I was greeted by Belizean kids “Hola Gringa!” from their garden and barked at by random street dogs. Then I reached the bus stop. There was a little family-gathering and it took me at least an hour to find out who belonged to whom. I played with the 5-year-old Lucy and chatted away with her 14-year-old brother Samir. “What does your country look like?”, he asked me. “Well, eh, it’s very different. We have no banana-, coconut-, avocado- or mango-trees like you do”, I told him. He looked at me with amazement: “So what do you eat then???”. Great conversation (:
As soon as the family left, this old skinny man who owned the shop next to the bus stop came and sat next to me. “There is no bus on Sunday, but you might be able to get a ride soon”, he said. I started to ask him my favourite questions and he told me his life story. It was filled with love-stories and great adventures. “Life is about love, you know, it’s the most important thing. As long as you are loved, you are alive. I am loved by my creator, I thank Him every day for the life that I get to live. I am a very happy person.” He talked for hours and kept on smiling the whole time. He looked stunning, with his gorgeous smiley face. So so beautiful from the heart. I told him that he looked like a very happy man to me. He said: “I was blessed with giving. People can take everything away, but they will never be able to take away my blessing of giving. Do you want some coconuts from my garden? You can take anything you like, really!”. He told me about his plans: “I want to build 4 little cabanas in my yard. I will start this weekend and yes, I will do that myself. And then maybe, when I finish them, I will buy some more land with a few ruins over there”, and pointed across the jungle. “Tell your friends about me cause in two years from now, everything will be finished for you and your friends to come back!”. I wondered how old he was, since this seemed like a life-long-plan. He wanted me to guess. I started at 64 and kept on going up, while he laughed out loud and kept on yelling “Up!!! Up!!!”. He appeared to be 95. My god, 95! I had never met anyone that old in my life ever before. I told him that he seemed so full of life that I could just not believe that this was the truth. “Well, I am going to be 120 years old you know!”, he said. He told me he was trying to build the property because he wanted to leave something for his granddaughter. She was 17, about to turn 18 on the 17th of August. I looked at him and smiled: “that’s my birthday too…”. We both had a glance in our eyes.
There was no bus on Sunday. He was right. And apparently there were no cars either going in my off-the-beaten-track-direction today. I think I had to thank Him and my new friend Senor Pedro, or as he wanted me to call him, Sir Pete for that, as this afternoon with him was one of my all-time-favourites. After three beautiful hours of listening and waiting, I got picked up by a 35-year old Guatemalan girl named Noëmi, who gave me food and shelter. She even let me sleep in her swinging bed and I was therefore safe from the scorpions that were crawling over the jungle floor. So nice. So generous, again.
This morning I went back to the bus stop and hung out with Mister Pete again. I was an hour early, since I had no clue I had arrived in a different time zone. He kept on smiling about my ignorance. He said I would be picked up for my last hitch by two primary-school teachers in a white car. He said they would arrive at 7.20. He was exactly right. They wanted to give me a ride and I said my last goodbye to my favourite 95-year old.
God bless mister Pete.