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My Destination is Portland

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If you're inspired by Portland, you might also like to check out British Columbia, Toronto and Niagara.

Wouldn't it be nice to know all the languages in the world?

WHILE TRAVELLING, NOT BEING ABLE TO UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE AROUND YOU CAN SOMETIMES BE SCARY.

Steph and I stood outside a nondescript door, gesturing helplessly as we explained to the middle-aged Argentinian woman that we were looking for our 'amigo' from 'Francais'. She was equally confused, but welcomed us into her house.

A metro breakdown had led to a chance conversation with Guille, who recognized us as fellow foreigners. We somehow dove into sharing life philosophies, but were left confused as we parted ways, about whether this 'house concert' he had invited us to even existed. Curiosity led to our current state, as we rapidly realized that we were the only non-Spanish speakers in a private gathering, our amigo nowhere to be seen.

A young lady, noticing our discomfort, explained haltingly, that this was a monthly showcase organized by the 'music family' that owned the house, first performing then opening the mike. By the time Guille arrived - explaining that his taxi driver had taken him for a ride - we had thrown away our insecurities, feeling the intimacy of the space, as the twentyish people in the living room partook together in music.

SOMETIMES, AN IN-DEPTH KNOWLEDGE OF A COMMON LANGUAGE BECOMES UNNECESSARY AS TWO EQUALLY INVESTED PARTIES TRY TO COMMUNICATE.

"You don't have to do anything. Please, just don't forget my story." I think his name was Gwe. I remember his eyes, more than his voice.

Driving back from the Elmina Castle in Ghana, we visited the Liberian refugee camp. I wandered into the market, striking up a conversation with the lone man packing up his stall. The resulting ten minutes were among the most intense in my life. I learned about the huge disparity between the official language in Ghana - English - and the actual language used, leading to refugees remaining unemployed and how this man was losing hope, but continued writing to UNHCR to try to return and reunite with his family.

As he clutched my hands, I was left weakly mumbling well-wishes, hoping he too could see in my eyes everything else I could not convey.

SOMETIMES, OUR INABILITY TO DEBATE ISSUES OF NATIONAL IMPORTANCE OPENS UP DOORS TO A MORE RUDIMENTARY EXCHANGE OF INTENTIONS AND PURE EMOTIONS.

"Rapido! Rapido!" We were freaking out as our taxi sped towards our departing ship.

Joyce and I had spent our last 3 hours in Montevideo sitting in a square with some hippy street vendors, sharing only the (universal) language of music, dance and bottles of beer. We usually did more, without cutting it so close, and we did not know how our hunt for a feast had gone so hopelessly awry. However, it felt blissfully right and a perfect encapsulation of our experience as we realized that to get the most out of Uruguay, we paradoxically had to learn to be fully content with simply chilling.

THE LANGUAGE BARRIER IS OFTEN CONFUSING, BUT PERHAPS, ALSO LIBERATING.
House concert in Buenos Aires - thanks Guille! (screencap from video) With Benzine at the slave castles - a stranger who showed us his Ghana Fast friendships in Montevideo - firm yet fleeting.
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Andrea Lim

Andrea Lim

Currently located in:
Portland, United States.
Twitter: @glittersgold
About me in 140 characters or less

"Spontaneous yet thoughtful, I'm a diehard thrill seeker but enjoy simple pleasures. Life's too short to count calories- I am my own person."

A bit more about Andrea:

"I draw the line at eating... Nothing, I'll try anything once"

"My most essential travel phrase is... Are you local?"

"My most memorable souvenir is... A bangle from a market in Accra, made out of recycled coin and etched with the Sankofa symbol. I wear it everyday - it reminds me to keep exploring but to never lose sight of my roots."








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