I walk across the plaza of Huaraz with excitement chasing my heels. Across the square under the orange street light I can see Mary and Nigel wandering in no particular direction, awaiting our meeting with unsuspecting punctuality. It has been two years since I last saw them prior to leaving the United Kingdom, and I’m eager to find out how or if we relate across the differences of the last two years of our lives.
Mary and Nige are much as I remember them, all smiles, enthusiastic energy and incredibly well matched despite almost comical height difference. We relate experiences, thoughts, opinions and plans about the last two years in a fluid, intense stream of discussion at high volume to drown out the purposeful sound system in the bar which is hosting our catch-up. All other company, discussions, distractions and existences fades into the background and I’m desperate to find out as much about them as possible in the limited time before we part ways, pounding separate routes and schedules.
Their hostel is just up the road from ours, and we end things standing in the late-night chill of thin, high-altitude air. I don’t know when I’ll see them again, or where.
One thing from the whirlwind of conversation sticks in my mind like a thorn in tyre. “We’re trying to figure out what we want to do when we get back,” Nige explains, “But we haven’t really come to any conclusions.” “We’ll probably just end up getting enticed back into the same jobs by a nice salary,” jokes Mary.
I hope that it is a joke, but I suspect that there’s a little too much seriousness to it. After leaving everything behind to go in search of an alternative, it seems like a great shame that my dear friends would end up back where they started.