A Travellerspoint blog

Saying Adieu: Celebration of Life on the Go

(For Charlie, Bobbi, & Max)


Yesterday, I delved into what was supposed to be this week’s blog sampling of expat life, a harrowing tale of our recent and epic visa run to Mexico. Last night, though, we attended a leaving party for our friends Charlie and Bobbi. They’ve been Antigua regulars for quite some time now: home owners, parents with children enrolled in school, frequent attendees of Earth Lodge Sunday music shows. Quietly—and I use this word loosely in Charlie’s case, they’ve been people with wide smiles and warmth whose presence always made a day a little more pleasing.


They are leaving at the end of the week. It’s been coming, and we all knew it, slowly growing colder to the idea. It’s a bittersweet goodbye I’ve experienced many times in my life abroad: Friends, fellow expats with adventures of their own to undertake, set off on the next phase of their particular path. Charlie and Bobbi are heading to Kenya to take new positions at an old craft: teaching. Max, their awesomely bright son, has talked incessantly about the animals he’s going to see and maintained a running count of the days until. It sucks, but more so, it’s fantastic.

Last night at the party, a Mono Loco event with a locally star-studded cast (including Mike Tallon—whom I hadn’t seen in ages, which is far too long), it became very clear that this week’s expat rambling, despite the 2000-plus words I’d already written, would need to be changed. It became clear when I walked back in after a smoke break to find Charlie, Bobbi, and Billy atop the bar dancing to some eighties tune about going to Africa. There were the smiles and, on the faces of the customers, looks of mild confusion. Billy began shouting down to Grant (the bartending maestro) what to play next.

I’d heard of nights like this at Mono Loco, where sports gave way to juvenile madness and Billy and Co’s devious sides take over. I’d never seen it, which made it all the more enticing and all the more painful to see my friends go. Charlie has one of the faces that is raw expression: happiness bursts like bliss from his smile, surprise seems to spring from his eyes, and laughter echoes from somewhere true and deep within. It was in not-so-rare form atop that bar. There has been a rash of man-love going out to him lately, a lot of us grieving his inevitably disappearance, but alas the world tour must continue.

So, I’ve let my departing friends inspire me to remember the many I’ve met along the way to today, from those that remain in Baton Rouge, in Memphis, to those that passed through in Korea, Russia, Turkey…Guatemala and those on the travels in between. It’s been a hell of an adventure getting here, and it’s been even more fun for having met, gotten to know, and gotten to say goodbye to so many memorable, impactful folks. I hope to see Bobbi and Charlie and Max again, and I really hope to do so in Kenya next to a giraffe or some such thing, if only by photo should I not make it there.

A great thing about life on the go is that that—seeing them again—is entirely possible. In the past few years, I’ve met up with old friends in Istanbul, in Nablus, in Guatemala, England, Oregon, and Missouri. I’m never without somewhere to go, never without someone to see in some place I’ve never been, and that’s a fantastic excuse to keep going. I’ve kept in touch with many, if only by scrolling through a few photos on Facebook every now and again and dolling out a Like or quip, gawking at the great places they are seeing.

And, I suppose that’s why it’s worth it to take those arduous visa runs to Mexico every now and again: To get but a slice of fine folks to take with you to the next place and, at our best, give a piece of ourselves to them. Bon voyage, guys. See you soon.

New articles for old friends: How to Survive and Thrive Living in Korea as an EFL Couple and Traversing the Mississippi on Mud Island in Memphis, Tennessee


Posted by jonathonengels 10:49 Archived in Guatemala Tagged guatemala antigua expat

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.