I had just left circus class and I was walking out of Yachay’s cultural center. To my left I noticed a guy around my age carrying something that looked 3D printed. I get really excited about new ideas and technology so, without thinking, I blurted out “Is that 3D printed?” (in Spanish of course). I think he might have been a little caught off guard, but seeing my genuine curiosity he started explaining his project to me. It turned out that he was a student at Yachay University doing an internship in 3D design. We walked together back to the center of Urcuqui. There I was faced with a decision: do the “safe” thing and take the bus back to my house where many good books awaited, or see if I could make a friend and learn about Yachay in the process.
I walked with my new acquaintance to the bakery.
I learned that his name was Daniel and he liked fresh bread. The baker said that she had a new batch of bread coming out in 15 minutes, so Daniel and I decided to wait. This time was such a blessing because it gave us the opportunity to actually have a conversation. I learned that Daniel was from Quito and liked to watch TV. We talked about food, and he showed me where the legendary “Tree of Life” restaurant is in Urcuqui. He was going to be late for a night class at Yachay, so we picked up our bread and exchanged contact information before parting ways.
Life is so strange. If I hadn’t left the Voladora at exactly that moment I wouldn't have been walking next to Daniel on the way out. The experience showed me what can happen when you are just openly observing the world around you. It was also amazing how fast Daniel and I became friends. There was hardly any awkwardness as both of us approached each other with a genuinely friendly and open attitude. I think the experience has forever changed my view of “strangers”: now they just seem like potential friends.