In this traveling life, I’m always a visitor, wherever I am. I’m transient, not of the place I was, the place I am, or the place I’m going. I maintain a visitor’s mindset. I walk with my head up, noticing things. I greet everyone. I try not to offend.
Up here in Northern British Columbia and Southeast Alaska, there are lots of First Nations/Native American communities. The first one we visited was Bella Bella, BC, where we hopped off the waterbus and onto the docks of the Heiltsuk First Nation. The air was damp and humid and we ducked into the Thistalalh library/coffee shop/community center/gift shop where we sat down, opened some books, and soaked up the local culture.
The young gal behind the counter greeted every middle-aged-and-older guy as Uncle. A group of activists held a short meeting to develop a strategy for curtailing illegal bear hunts. Two residents worked out the details of a used smart phone purchase.
We left to walk north towards the town dump; we’d heard there was a free store next to it where we might be able to score a replacement for the jacket Eleanor lost days before. Trucks passed us on the winding road and the girls picked berries from along the shoulder. Three teens, all boys, headed our way, laughing and shoving each other.
I nodded and smiled at the first, “How’s it goin’.”
He nodded and smiled, “Moe-gee-oat-eh.”
“MOE-GEE-OAT-EH.” I repeated enthusiastically, carefully extending the greeting to all three of them with a big smile.
I waited until they were out of earshot.
“Did you hear that?” I asked Windy.
“Moe-gee-oat-eh, it’s a First Nations greeting. We need to remember that.”
Windy started laughing, snorting.
“What?! What’s so funny?”
“He said to you, ‘It’s muggy out, eh?’ and you repeated it back to him like a crazy man—ohmygod I’m gonna pee my pants.”
In our twenties, we traded our boat for a house and our freedom for careers. In our thirties, we slumbered through the American dream. In our forties, we woke and traded our house for a boat and our careers for freedom. And here we are. Follow along at http://www.logofdelviento.blogspot.com/