A part of me was dreading the 16-hour overnight Amtrak train I just took from New York to Savannah, Georgia. Honestly, who wouldn’t have been? It’s 16 hours. On a train. Without any kind of in-system entertainment, no WiFi, and a length of time that renders avoiding the restroom impossible.
But you know what makes the time whizz-dingle-zoom by? Finding in your seatmate a wonderful person who is fun to talk to, who seems to really enjoy your company, and who not only shares her blanket with you but in the early hours of the morning notices that the blanket is a little displaced and carefully tucks it in around you again.
Now here’s the part that won’t surprise quite a few people who know me: this woman whom I connected with, and whose company is already one of the golden moments of my trip, is 83.
Juanita, although I know you won’t read this – I think you are magnificent. And I will keep my promise to send you postcards from Savannah and from Europe.
It’s funny how first impressions can be wrong, though, isn’t it? For the first hour of the trip, Juanita sat next to me with her eyes fixed straight ahead, and neither of us an interaction attempted. It was not until a fairly amusing encounter took place behind us that Juanita and I caught eyes whilst giggling, and then it was on for young and old (that’s a rather apt phrase).
I loved the way she’d give me a little nudge with her elbow everytime I made her laugh, or when she told me, with a giggle, that her family doesn’t celebrate Halloween because it’s “the devil’s day!” I loved her reaction when I showed her a photo of a shepherd’s pie I made in Australia with kangaroo, and when she misunderstood me and thought I’d said I spent $70 on one chocolate bar, not on many different bars combined. I loved sharing my chocolate and carrots with her, and hope she enjoys the bar of Medecasse 75%, made with cocoa beans from Madagascar, that I gave her when my station came up.
There are wonderful people in the world, and I’m honoured to have met another one of them.