The humble greeting – the art of saying Hello !

We are farewelled by two Ravens on the lawn chattering as we are collected by a 7am shuttle bus. A four hour trip takes us to Edmonton where we catch a flight to Toronto for a night before flying to Cuba. Our last night in Canada and the day is pretty much filled with travel. We have chosen many different modes to break up the trip. I think bus might be the most boring. Ren and I manage to chat for most of the journey and at one point I look around and all the girls are talking and the boys are nodding their heads and trying to look interested. “Do you reckon the boys of this world have to listen to heaps of shit” I say to Ren laughing. “Yep, she says looking around. Just like Dad had to listen to you….” I beg your pardon? 
We fly Westjet and as they run through the safety procedure, I, like most people barely listen but we prick up our ears when the woman added some little gems in. 

“If you don’t love Westjet, no problem, there are eight emergency exits and if you’re unlucky you might get to use one. In the unlikely event of air pressure dropping, masks will drop from above for you to use.” As the air steward puts it over his head she adds. “You too can look this good”. “If you are travelling with someone who needs assistance, like my ex boyfriend, do your own first….she finishes with “and now I’ll repeat myself …’in the language of love’…” and proceeded to say it all again in French as many Canadians are French speaking. That was pretty funny and I complimented her when I went up to the washroom later. She said they put their own little touches in to make people listen. 
Then on the next flight, after a little bit of a screwy landing that gave me a fright, some of the passengers began to clap. I looked at Ren and she said it’s a cultural thing. She’s seen that before. The air hostess then came on and said. “Well how did you think the pilot did today?” and everyone whistled and applauded again. “Not bad for a first time don’t you think?” Which made us all laugh. She then said, “the local time in Cuba is…oh what the hell. You’re on holiday, you don’t need to know the time!” 

As we come out of the airport Ren says, “we’ll use Uber here, I’ll just sort it,”and though she’s never used it before she has seen her mates use it and she has a car on its way to us in four minutes. She explains that it’s like a private car that is being used as a taxi. You use the app saying where you are and it sends your GPS position to the car closest. If they need to call you or you them, your phone numbers are blocked to protect your privacy. You don’t need money as it logs to your credit card by the company who pay the driver. No tips or bullshit and the invoice is sent at the end of the journey. With costs preset by the company it’s a pretty cool system and costs around half of a normal taxi. The guy arrives in a lovely vehicle and Gilbert asks him about how ‘youbar’ works for him. Dad, it’s pronounced ‘ooba’ Ren tells him later. 
We loose a couple of hours with the time difference crossing the country and settle into our BnB at about 8 pm. Travel is very different this time round, mostly because Ren really is our ‘tour guide’. She is working on several different apps at once telling us the time differences, where we need to be by when, while booking accommodation ahead and texting to friends at the same time. 

We see something that will be cool to take a photo of, and before I have unsnapped my phone, she has taken the pic, edited it and snap chatted, texted, whatsapped and face booked it before I’ve even looked at mine! The technology is so easy for her and she negotiates new stuff, like the Uber thing, with ease. 
She has shown me how to take better pics, how to navigate the blog system that I never knew despite blogging for three years now, explained subways, train stations, shit… even crossing the road isn’t the same here. She gave Gilbert and I a bollocking for crossing off the pedestrian. Whoops. 

It’s awesome and I’m enjoying it very much. I’m also enjoying watching her. Friendly and capable. It’s interesting that Ren makes ‘friends for life’ at every turn, and now I see why. 
If you watch people greet each other in passing, most people look at those coming towards them. Then maybe unconsciously make an assessment, look away until the last moment when they lift their eyes for a brief second and then not always, but for the most part, nod, smile, say hello, or all three depending on their shyness. 

Well Ren is another level altogether. When people go to make that first assessment she’s got the full smile beaming at them. She may even be laughing with her greeting which confuses people. They don’t get a chance to look away as the smile is so big they think , do I know her? All her body language is open. They respond and hold eye contact for longer and by the time they are side by side they are still not sure, so reply to her greeting in a similar manner. It’s funny watching this as they sometimes look back and I can see they are wondering, have I met that girl before? And if they happen to be at a crossing or in a train, a conversation begins and that’s how she meets so many interesting people. They are the ones who meet her smile and respond. It’s beautiful really and lovely to be a part of that, as we are by her side. 

She makes conversation easily. The taxi driver asks her where we are from and she tells him, NZ and asks where he is from? Sri Lanka he answers. Ohh which part she replies, I loved Sri Lanka when I visited there. I went to a cricket game between Sri Lanka and England. He laughs and says he’s not so interested in cricket, but they are playing each other right now. She admits she’s not interested really either and they have a laugh. 

In Varadero, Cuba, we chat to a young couple and Ren asks where they are from. Netherlands they reply. Oh I worked in Amsterdam says Ren. Which part they ask, they know it well and wonder how she came to stay there. Family, she answers with a smile. 

Or when we are booking tickets to go to Trinidad. We pass a Chinese couple looking a bit lost and on the way out Ren asks “jongorwren?” Chinese? The woman gets very excited. And they have a stilted conversation in Chinese. Ren has enough to understand they want to buy a ticket but haven’t been able to converse with the ticket seller. She helps them organise it and they are over the moon and thank us wholeheartedly. This is just the last couple of days! 

Ps-as we are Cuba right now with abysmal wifi I haven’t been able to post text and pictures. If you go back in I will try and add them later. Cheers and thanks for watching!

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