People. Strangers. Fleeting moments. Travel seems to compress life yet also rearrange it in our memories.
I take a ridiculous amount of photos on my iPhone when I travel because I know only one photo in five (or sometimes 10) will satisfy me. But oddly the most precious photos are the serendipitous occasions when I meet a person or an animal during my travels.
That was how in my search on my iPhone for my favorite photo of the Yoshino cherry trees in bloom on the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. that I saw the photo of three siblings I met in Croatia. They didn’t speak any English. I thought they were skipping school until I realized it was Sunday. My Exodus travel group was walking up a deserted mountain trail to see the Ronald Brown Memorial on Strazisce Peak. This summit overlooks Dubrovnik.
We heard them before we saw them. They were giggling. The big brother was chasing his little sister around a tree. I heard them chattering in Croatian. Then the oldest decided to approach us. He circled around our group sitting on the side of the road.
Our Croatian guide Mario translated what he asked us: “What are you doing?”
Mario replied, “Hadojne do vrja planine.”
The children thought it was hilarious that we adults thought it was fun to walk to the top of the mountain. They laughed and asked why we didn’t just play here. Climb a tree. Collect leaves. Chase each other.
Sadly, we explained: “Too old.”
But now I wished that I had stopped to play “Duck Duck Goose” or “Kick the Can” with them. At least they let me take their photos. And every time I look at it, I remember the wonder of playing for a child.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”—George Bernard Shaw
What was your favorite game to play as a child? (Comments welcome!)
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