In reality, Luis and I both studied at IE Business School in Madrid but our paths hardly ever crossed. We both took a day trip with a group to El Escorial, a town just outside of Madrid that has an amazing church that houses the remains of long deceased Spanish royalty. Otherwise, I don’t remember seeing Luis very much at all.
When I told all my business school colleagues about my decision to leave it all to start The Happy Nomad Tour, surprisingly Luis wrote me a very nice message and cordially invited me to his native Venezuela.
At the time, I planned to stick to the western side of South America and just hit Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. But as I mentioned, everything changed one day and in an hour I had arranged to visit Venezuela for the holidays.
Luis was an amazing host and I got to know his hometown of Maracaibo and his friends there, as well as his current city of Caracas and his friends there. I had a truly wonderful Christmas with his family and an unforgettable start to 2012 thanks to him.
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but people inviting me into their lives never gets old and always surprises me. It’s not walking in someone else’s shoes, per se, but it’s walking next to them and this always teaches me so much.
One of Luis’s passions is music. I listen to music, but I don’t feel it or experience it the way he does. It was awesome to see this in action. But anyway, he likes a completely different genre of music than me, but after nearly two weeks together I realized I like his kind of music as well! What a wonderful discovery that’ll last me a lifetime!
The song we listened to most often was Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds. I think it was the first song on the playlist in his car and now it’s one of my favorite songs. Not one of my anthems, but definitely a new favorite.
So for that alone I will forever be grateful. Add on the rest and I’m supremely thankful I made a new friend. One night we were talking and Luis said “La vida es bella,” or “Life is beautiful.”
He said it in another context, but it really is. After this experience I wondered how many other acquaintances I have in my life who are undiscovered awesome people and potential amazing friends. The Happy Nomad Tour allows me to meet amazing people all over the world, but as I wrote back in the very beginning in Houston, sometimes there is gold right in your backyard and you don’t even know it.
I guess all I can say is be open and invite people into your life and into your heart. I used to be very shy and the idea of spending nearly two weeks, over the holidays no less, with someone I barely know would have given me a healthy dose of stress and discomfort. But look what I would have missed and who knows what great potential relationships I missed out on back in the day.
Open your heart, unleash your infinite capacity to love, and don’t live in fear. Life may be like a box of chocolates, but if you’re too afraid to open the box you’ll never get to fully enjoy and experience it!