The day had finally come that I had to return to Washington after almost two weeks of incredible work in Manizales.
I am working on a collage of photos of my trip that I hope to post soon.
I left the coffee and banana finca for the last time and made the way up the mountain. Four-wheel drive is a must. I hopped out as we got to Adriana and Augusto’s store and switched the ten dollar bill and we continued on our way.
It’s a pretty drive, wrapping around the mountainous roads of Colombia’s coffee belt for two hours.
I arrived with plenty of time and started to make my way through the check-in process. Now I have been to Colombia before and am familiar with the multiple revisions that they do of your luggage, but this time it went a step further. I had purchased some coffee and other goods to bring back as gifts for some friends. They poked holes in almost every item I had and tasted it. They opened up the Colombian rum that I had purchased and poured some over their finger to make sure that it wasn’t liquid heroin! I know the man was just doing his job and that he is doing it for all the right reasons, however, it’s frustrating to watch someone open and damage all of your gifts for others.
While I was being searched I noticed another man that was being searched who looked familiar. I asked the customs officer who he was and he said that it was Tego Calderon
, a well-known Latin American Reggaetón artist. I had heard of his name but couldn’t say that I was familiar with his music. Anyway, I thought he might be an interesting person to give him my $10.
On board the flight from Pereira, Colombia to Panama’s Tocumen International Airport I saw Tego again. He was being moved up from coach to first class. We arrived in Panama and were met on the tarmac by a shuttle bus that took us to the terminal. As I squeezed into the crowded shuttle bus I found myself shoulder to shoulder with the Puerto Rican musician who appeared to be travelling with his wife and some friends or band members. I asked him how the concert went in Pereira and he politely replied that it went well. Then there was a little silence and he turned to chat with one of his friends.
So many of you have written to me talking about anxiety to approach someone and give them $10. Well, let me tell you…I was very nervous about Tego to accept my $10, but I did. He accepted my card and read both sides of it. “So what is it?” he asked in Spanish. I explained very quickly the concept and he replied, “Man, I don’t have time, we got to catch a flight to Santo Domingo.” I assured him it would be fast, but he just smiled and laughed and shook his head. As the doors opened and he exited the shuttle bus he said “I’ll check out your website.” He and his entourage quickly vanished.
While waiting for the flight to depart, I tried to give my $10 to Alfredo, a COPA Airlines pilot, but he just didn’t feel comfortable. He asked a lot of questions but didn’t seem to get the giving project.
I boarded my final flight, COPA 488 from Panama to Washington’s Dulles International Airport. I had seat 14A which is by the emergency exit and doesn’t have a seat in front of it. As I approached my seat I saw that someone was sitting there. After double checking tickets, it turns out that Roey was supposed to be in 14B: the middle seat.
The flight was just under five hours and was scheduled to land at 12:55AM. So I knew I was going to continue the streak of 174 days without missing a day of giving, I needed to find someone on this flight and give them the $10 before we land.
The plane took off and I pulled out a notebook to try to write some of the blogs from the previous days. I was so far behind (and still am) and needed to get caught up. I didn’t have my notebook out one minute before Roey, now in 14B, asked, “Do you journal? I have more than 2,000 journal entries.” Inside I was smiling as I realized that I just found my day’s recipient!
Roey is 29 and lives in Bethesda. Originally from Israel, he moved here when he was five. He is passionate about his religion and his heritage and shared openly with me. When he is not out pursuing some adventure in Costa Rica, Roey works in information security for a firm that specializes in auditing government information systems for compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act.
He was traveling with three friends on their way back from a trip to Costa Rica. They met on Gesher City DC, a social website that according to the site is the “one-stop connection to all things young and Jewish in DC!” They had been on an amazing eco-farm while they were there. Roey got his camera out and showed me the many photographs he took while visiting this beautiful natural paradise. Here Roey talks a little bit about his general impressions of the “Ticos” – that is the name given to the local people of Costa Rica.
We talked about coffee, as I had just been on a coffee plantation and some of the people that he met on his trip were in the coffee business. It sounded like the highlight of their trip was a day that they visited the Cacao Trails in Cahuita. Roey said they got to see the entire chocolate making process. And no tour apparently is complete without tasting the final product. “It was the best chocolate I have ever tasted,” Roey told me. He explained that the flavor is so much better because they do not extract the cocoa butter like many commercialized chocolate manufacturers do.
Roey wasn’t sure what he was going to do with the $10 but he said he planned to do something for someone else. I look forward to hearing how it was used.
We talked the length of the entire flight. I met his two friends Julia and David too (the fourth friend took a different flight). In fact, I even gave Julia and David a ride home. They didn’t live too far away from where I live so it was nice to be able to help them out. Roey stayed behind as his parents were on their way to pick him up.
Roey is a guy who likes to make connections. He loves to think of the people that he knows that might be able to help you out or simply be a good friend. I think I left with a half-dozen names of people or places that he thought might be of interest to me. I haven’t followed up on them yet, although I should. Roey loves to meet new people and if you are in the DC area and open to meeting new people, I know Roey would love to meet up!
An interesting tidbit. The following day the blog was accessed by somebody in Santo Domingo. I don’t have too many visitors from there, so who knows, maybe it was Tego!