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A universal understanding



He was slowly walking up the hill with the help of a cane. I was limping down the sloping street, both eying the same bench.

Reaching it at the same time, we gestured we’d share.

After a minute of silence I introduced myself. Hello I’m Ron. He stared at me with a blank look on his face. I asked if he spoke English? Again he stared, shook his head and drifted back into silence.

After a few failed attempts to communicate we resorted to sign language and hand gestures.

I eventually got out of him, the 86-year-old man has lived his entire life in Zakopane. ( A small mountain town on the Poland- Slovakian border.)

When I told him I was from the USA all he could muster was Cha- cago ? No, I told him Florida.

Bruuk-line ? No Tampa, Florida, I said.

 He just nodded with a confused but gentle smile.

Needless to say the conversation was not going to build beyond the basics.

A few minutes later a pretty girl walked by, I smiled at him and pointed at her with a wink.

With a huge smile on his face he says , ya ya ya. “Dats Nice” .
Then he mumbled something in Polish. I think it was along the lines, Ohhhh, to be young again!

Some things are just universally recognized and understood. We sat with with sun in our face and pleasant silence for a bit longer.

It was a nice moment.

 A moment from my 4 months traveling through Northern Europe, France and Spain. More to come 

Ron Laker 




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