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Mindful Wanderings

A Word of Possibility

CANADA | Wednesday, 14 May 2014 | Views [58] | Scholarship Entry

We had been in the city for almost a month, among 200 other students, studying French language and Quebec culture. The first time I saw him, I felt his energy draw me towards him. Luigi charmed the attention of others by his ability to live life fully, unexpectedly, and unapologetically. Each conversation we had expanded the scope of my world with the possibilities he revealed by just being him. With less than a week left in the program, I was showing him a pamphlet for “Le Festival International des Rythmes du Monde”, and he agreed to join me after learning we both love to dance. There would be samba, salsa and other tribal beats, and we were there for each other in case the music compelled our feet and a dance partner became necessary.

The city centre of Chicoutimi was on the south bank on the southernmost Canadian fjord. The main street dipped and turned, allowing each bandstand its own acoustic pocket with each one no further than a block away. The roadway was two skinny lanes that expanded only at scattered parking spots; the sidewalks were lined with retail stores, restaurant patios and other commercial businesses, forming the base of buildings between three to five stories tall. Its quaint and tenacious daily industry was replaced with a sea of heads, passionately vibrant sounds commanding attention, and their respective dancers exploding with color, muscle and intensity.

We loosely chose the groups we wished to see, leaving opportunity to explore the others. After one pass from east to west, we stopped at a convenience store in a flatiron building to get a drink and observe the silence from the adjoining street. Lacking grace in a moment of thirst, I dribbled some apple juice onto myself. Luigi swiftly retrieved some napkins from the store, and upon taking them from his hand I said, “Merci.”

He responded with stylish habitude, “Derrière.”

I paused, tilted my head and looked at him, “Did you just say ‘derrière’?”

He said, “Why, yes I did. You are the third person to notice since I’ve been here.”

That statistic caught me off guard since week four of the program was about to end, but without blinking I asked, “Did you just call me an ‘ass’?”

He laughed, and we reveled in the humor of how many people he had called a ‘bum’ in French, unawares. We walked back into the sphere of music with our own deeper connection; the increasing intensity of the drum calling us to submit to the salsa beat, reminding us of what we came for.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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