Two years ago, I wrote about a wonderful and gracious family I met while travelling in Mexico:
Both of Mario’s younger brothers were participating in a state level swimming competition later that evening. They were both families of swimmers. Mario asked if I wanted to join them to see the event. I gladly agreed. So I hitched a ride back in their car to Mexico City. More talking, more stories, more laughter, more exchange. On the ride, I learnt I was having dinner at Mario’s home after the event. Requests went out to his home for vegetarian food too.
It was late in the night after we finished dinner and talking. Mario offered to drop me at my hotel. Everyone agreed to come along. Mexico is culturally very similar to India. After I thanked Mario’s mother for the great food and hospitality, she told me that I was like another son and could drop by any time. The family happens to own a holiday home in northern Mexico. I was told I could go there anytime ‘with your friends, family or even your girlfriend’.
Cut to the past weekend. The three brothers and I summited Iztaccihuatl, one of the highest peaks in North America. And the family offered the same pleasant hospitality that humbled me two years ago. It was as if besides time nothing had changed.
The climb itself was epic made even more memorable by the shared experience of being stuck in a thunderstorm at 17,000 feet. Looking at this photograph in hindsight, one might have guessed that we were right in the midst of forthcoming precipitation. But look at the smiling (and innocent, why not) faces—we were blissfully unaware.
Another hike, another hard lesson learnt.
As I learn more about mountaineering, I realize that there are only hard lessons. You can gather information from past experiences of others and that’s easy, but the ones that truly matter, the ones that teach you, the ones that stay with you are only the ones you experience yourself. It is therefore no wonder that the best mountaineers are the ones who have climbed so many mountains that they have experienced much (and to be fair, been lucky as well) and not the ones who have read the most.
There was a time when coincidences and chance encounters would excite me. Anything I found in common with strangers would be something strange and amazing. Now, some of the people I’m closest to are those whom—statistically—I had a very low probability of knowing. And now, I almost like to gamble with low probability events in life and see where it takes me. As of now, I have only been taken me to wonderful places.
Try it sometime.