Meeting new people inspires me to travel and I love meeting them all. Everyone you meet, if only a little, teaches you a lesson. The wise emanate confidence, they are always good listeners and help one grow. They are examples to strive towards. The foolish are always good for a laugh and a good time, but also remind us to remain disciplined of mind. In this past year, I met the wise, the foolish and everyone in between. The wisest of the wise was ironically just a 22 year old kid from California. The funniest of the fools was a Japanese man in his 40’s. I feel privileged to have met both of them.
I met the Californian named Greg at the border between Taba, Egypt and Eilat, Israel. To be honest, at first I wasn’t to sure about him. He seemed frighteningly calm, cool, and collected. He was almost too nice. It was as if he had just blown his load after robbing a bank or something. Then when he got taken aside by two heavily armed Israeli guards for his suspicious looking briefcase, the prospects of him being some kind of bomber actually did briefly cross my mind. Thankfully he wasn’t and we made it into Israel without blowing up.
Over the following days and weeks that we traveled together, I realized that he wasn’t a bit nutty or dumb but in fact remarkably confident and somewhat enlightened for his age. He was like a 60 year old stuck in a young mans body. He was always inquisitive and asking my opinion on all sorts of things, from travel to random philosophical matters. He reminded me of the mystery of the world and not to lose my curiosity of it. And while I responded, he would listen to me with remarkable attention. In this, he reminded me to be a better a listener, not only for the sake of others, but to learn from others.
The only flaw, or so I thought when I first learned, was that he was a devout Christian. Usually upon hearing something like this, I brace myself for the big spiel on Yesus and the lot. Fortunately, he was a Christian of the best kind. Never once did he preach to me the bible. He was open to all the religions, and all scientific and philosophical ideas. He maintained a very refreshing open mind. In the result, though I am fairly non religious, I actually found myself wanting to hear a quick little verse from the bible once in a while. Though I don’t think he was trying to convert me, if he was, he was very Tao and wise about it.
Now it’s time to introduce a legend of a man, Mr. Mitsuhiro. I didn’t really know what to think of him at first but I nonetheless kept following him as we made are way towards the Pyramids. There, he led us to a random and broken down apartment. An Egyptian man greeted us graciously with tobacco and tea. It turned out that Mr. Mistuhiro san actually lived with this family for many years and he was somewhat of a local in this village.The rest of the day became a very comical yet fantastic horse ride around the Pyramids, and it was free.
Back at the hostel, Mistuhiro san showed me his primary hobby. That being to drink bottles of liquor, beer, wine or any kind of liquid in one shot. He did this all around the world and had made countless of these ‘bottoms up’ videos. It was absolutely hilarious in it’s ridiculousness. I couldn’t stop laughing. Over the following days, I helped him make a few more of these videos. Mistsuhiro san taught me not to take life too seriously and he taught me how if one really puts their mind to it, they too can chug a whole bottle of wine in one go. Words can hardly describe the hilarity of this man, so check out the videos at the end.
I left both Greg and Mitsuhiro san with new ideas, new lessons, and some not so needed beer chugging skills. I will never forget either of them. More than seeing the sights, it is meeting people like them that make me want to keep traveling. Don’t underestimate or cast aside anyone you meet on the road, because if you do, you may never learn how to chug an entire bottle of wine in one go.