If you follow me on Twitter (and if you don’t already, follow me now at @paige_woodard so you feel included in the loop), then you know that this June I took an exciting and soul-fulfilling trip to Spain. Here are a few pictures that do not even begin to capture the beauty of the places we visited, but will give you an idea of what I have seen and experienced in my travels. Though this was not my first time to Spain, it was the first for my mother, so it was amazing to have her see with her own eyes the country that has captured my heart.
As you can see, I have been blessed with some incredible opportunities in my short eighteen years of life. And throughout my travels, I have been honored with meeting some wonderful people with amazing stories, thoughts, and ideas.
While on the eight hour plane ride to Madrid from Charlotte, NC, I spoke with a man sitting next to me named Edgar. For the first couple of hours we did the shy dance of two strangers sitting next to each other on the plane. He would put his arm on the rest and I would shift over a little more farther away from him. I would pull my feet up underneath me for comfort and he would lean in the opposite direction. He finally broke the ice by kindly offering his neck pillow when he saw my discomfort when trying to sleep and the rest of the plane ride was a real joy. We spoke about his life at home, my town’s recent heartache from the loss of two teens in a dam accident, and what was on our agenda when we landed in Madrid.
Edgar was a marathon runner who was very knowledgeable on a variety of health tips and how to best build up your stamina to run a 5k (in my case) or complete a triathlon (his hobby). He was originally from Guatemala but lives in Texas with his wife and myriad of farm animals and other pets. Unfortunately, he was visiting Spain for the first time to spend last moments with an old teacher who was dying of cancer. I gave him my condolences and prayed he would return to Spain once more, for a happier occasion.
Once the plane landed, he wrote down his email and told me to send him a message after I watched a documentary he suggested about the unhealthy food production system (I still have yet to contact him or watch the documentary, which I deeply regret), we wished each other well, and headed our separate ways. I figured that was the last time I would talk to Edgar in person.
Until day eight of our ten-day escapade in the southern autonomy Andalucia, where I was casually walking with my group and happened to see Edgar and who I assumed to be his old teacher walking in La Alhambra in Granada.
Though this experience has nothing to do with the education system, it taught me that coincidences are not really coincidental. This is why I deeply regret not taking action and contacting Edgar before now, because for some reason I was meant to sit next to him on the plane and not my mother, who had offered to take my place before we even settled in to our seats. Sometimes the greatest connections, business-related or simply for information about another’s life, happen at the most unsuspecting moments. So learn from my mistake and immediately start speaking to your plane partner or that individual you see every Saturday morning at the supermarket if you have the inclination, because the stories you hear and the relationships you build could not be any more valuable.