She must have been in her 60s. She was retired with children about my age. She was reflective and open-minded. Her energy and enthusiasm for life, people, and travel were wicked-awesome, without being over-the-top annoying. She brightened up my days.
I met Vibrant in the dorm room one afternoon on Holbox Island. I was just about to go find some food when she arrived and we got to chatting. I invited her to join me and we wandered out into the town to satisfy our hunger.
This is when I learned the little I know about Vibrant. I wish we had gone for a meal again, but unfortunately the timing just wasn’t right. She told me that she had been traveling for two and a half years and that she typically goes home/plans to go home each year at Christmastime. I don’t recall where exactly home is, but it’s some small town in England. Definitely not London.
She told me about England, and explained to me how all of England was currently under water after a huge storm. I was surprised that I hadn’t heard about it, especially having met many people from London. “Oh, well London doesn’t count. It’s not even really part of England”. Apparently the weather in London, the people, the economy, it’s all very different from the rest of England. I made a mental note to look into this a little more, having never heard anyone speak this way of London, though I suppose it’s kind of the case with many large cities – city life tends to differ from country life. But the fact that the weather is completely different… that’s interesting. But I digress.
As I said, I wish I had learned more about Vibrant in the time I knew her. I was tired and hungry that day we went for a meal, so I wasn’t asking her a bunch of questions like I should have been. But I did get a good feel for her personality, her spice for life.
After the meal, we spent most of the evening together. Well, not together, but at the same hostel-organized activities.
We did sunset yoga, a therapeutic drum session, and later that evening, salsa lessons. A huge smile on her face, she would remark, “It’s wonderful to have so many events, isn’t it? My whole evening is planned!” Sidenote: the English essentially say “eh” like us Canadians, don’t they (you see what I did there?). But they use phrases like, “isn’t it?” or “doesn’t it?” (or “don’t they?”) to ask for agreement. We’ve simply shortened it. Anyhoo, back to Vibrant.
Many older travelers I meet, I find they are stuck in a certain kind of lifestyle. They’re running away from something, or they’re trying to stay young, or something of that sort. They never seem content, or fully matured into some sort of adult life. And perhaps that’s just me being too judgemental and not open to other people’s ways of life. I like to think it’s just my observation, and I accept that I could be wrong. But Vibrant, she was not one of these people I described. She lived her “normal” life – had kids, worked, and now retired, and this is what she chose to do with her retirement. She was not looking for a party every night. She was not of an immature kind of mindset. She was quite obviously older than me in her experiences, knowledge, and wisdom. But she was young at heart with her loads of energy, brilliant curiosity, and overall vibrancy. She really could get along just fine with any age group and many types of people.
It was this perfect mix of old and young, wise and curious, calm and energetic, that made her such a pleasure to meet and spend time with. I only hope I am a fraction as awesome as her when I’m her age.