Several years ago when I was returning from Iguassu Falls back to Buenos Aires I experienced something of an epiphany. As I sat comfortably in a coche cama bus whizzing past the red lands of the northern province of Misiones, I was admiring the crimson sky slowly surrendering to the late evening darkness. I was watching the villages passing me by and the people still working in the fields and around their households through the window of the bus as if it was a big screen TV. Then I noticed a figure straighten up from his chore and looking at me. For a moment we locked our eyes through the distance exchanging a quick glance of two passersby. And then it happened. He smiled and waved his hand at me. I smiled and waved back while warmth filled my heart. I could not explain it but I felt it.
Have you ever reflected upon a simple gesture of an unknown child, man or a woman waving to you as you pass by in a bus or a train? There is something very humane and endearing in that, something transcending culture or religion. The simple wave of a hand and a smile sent across the distance and barrier of glass. And at that moment you certainly don’t think about who that person is, what they believe in, what is their ethnicity or language. Because in those few fleeting seconds you feel the sense of belonging, the unity with something greater than one society or another. It is a sense of connection with another human being, which is so pure, so unprejudiced, and so instant and transcending, that it becomes enlightening. And because the feeling of joy and connection precedes any thought of judgment that may follow after you have had time to think of the context, it is therefore inherently hopeful to you and I as humans. It is hopeful inasmuch as it proves that we all share a rudimentary, primitive instinct of reaching out in goodness. It is therefore one of the most beautiful and simple gestures in traveler’s life. It represents an unspoken kinship of coming and going. It is a hello and farewell. It says, “I bid you a good and safe journey”.
The moment came and went. The man bent forward attending to his task again and soon I lost the sight of him. As we sped on I kept wondering if at that moment he felt the same. I hope he did.