Some people have called us courageous for leaving life behind to travel around the world with two little kids. Others have called us crazy. We’ve been a little bit of both thanks to guardian angels we met along the way. We call them our adopted godparents. They have given us courage when we were lost and caution when we were too intrepid. In every corner of the earth, they helped us dream and they planted us in reality. They became a part of our family, if only for a short span of time. We didn’t know a single one of them before embarking on our trip, but all of them treated us as if we were family members and took it upon themselves to watch over and care for us in their home countries.
We found these godparents in the most random ways. Our godparent in Chiang Mai was a colleague of one of my parent’s friends. In Istanbul, a distant friend of one of Sandeep’s distant friends became our good friend. In Penang, Vouliagmeni and Cape Town, the women that owned the houses in which we stayed took us under their wings. They filled our fridge, clothed the kids and nourished us with hours of conversation. Perhaps it is our distance from home or our availability to nurture new relationships that enabled us to form connections with each of these people in a short amount of time.
Our most recent godparent is an 85 year old Carioca (native of Rio de Janeiro) man. He happens to be the actual godfather of Ava and Kayan’s actual godmother. However, he and the kids’ godmother haven’t met in over 30 years. We figured he would be a very loose connection, but decided to give him a call anyway, if only to connect with a Carioca who spoke English. After several minutes of phone confusion, he pieced together who we were. From then he insisted that he help with anything we needed in Rio. He became a godfather to us in a way that he was never able to be for his own goddaughter. He drove an hour from his home to take us to the Christo Redentor, the imposing 130 foot statue of Christ that stands guard over the entire city. In 2007, the statue was named as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Two days after that he drove to pick us up and take us all the way back to his neighborhood so that we could experience the real Rio from the eyes of a local. In his care we had the best Brazilian lunch at an obscure pay-by-the-kilo restaurant. He then insisted on dropping us back home, which meant he spent four hours in his car just to make sure that we were in good hands for lunch.
We’ve told each of our adopted godparents that we would love to show them the same care when they are in The States. Perhaps we will see some of them again, although we assume that many of them we wont. Even if they were to come for a visit, we struggle to imagine ever being able to return their hospitality. We’re so fortunate that each of them became part of our journey and gave us the confidence and support need to create our memories. Without them we wouldn’t have been nearly as courageous nor as crazy.