On a recent trip to Chile I was standing in line at Santiago airport, waiting to be checked in for my flight to the Colombian capital Bogotá, when a person behind me in the line addressed me.
“Do you speak Spanish?” she asked (in Spanish).
“Yes,” I replied (in Spanish).
“I remember you from the festival,” she continued.
“Festival?” I asked as if I had been to more than one festival during my short stay in Santiago.
“Yes, the festival on Friday!”
“Ah yes, the Colombian festival.”
“I remember you from the festival,” she said. “Dancing in the conga line.”
“Yeah, that was a fun festival,” I said. “What an incredible coincidence meeting you here?”
Our chat was not much longer as it was my turn to check in for the flight. On my way to the gate I was mesmerized, thinking about this charming coincidence. As the plane took off into the sky, my thoughts came down to earth and I wondered if it had indeed been an incredible coincidence rather than a reasonably probable affair.
First, let’s rewind back to the said Friday, December 7th 2012. I was mid-way through my week-long visit to Santiago and Chilean friends of mine had invited me to join them for a Colombian festival to celebrate the day of the candles (Día de las Velitas) in an auditorium of a Santiago church, Parroquia Latinoamericana Nuestra Señora de Pompeya.
The event was a great fun with good Colombian food and drink. A band played live music — colombian music I presumed — not being the connoisseur of music able to distinguish between different varieties of Latin American music. People danced. I danced too, not knowing whether I should dance salsa, merengue or cumbia. Not that it mattered at all since I knew how to dance none of those dances and just danced Börkur’s style, which is a dance consisting of somewhat random movements, to some extent matching the rhythm of the music.
At various moments throughout the evening a conga line formed and sailed about the auditorium. Even the most confused of dancers, such as myself, were thrown into the mix and led across the floor in a line of joy. Looking back, I believe the girl behind me in the line at the airport was at some point also behind me in the conga line.
Reluctant as I am about leaving the memory of the Colombian festival, let’s fast-forward to my thoughts during the flight to Bogotá. How much of an incredible coincidence was it to meet someone at the airport who recognized me from the festival?
Given that I was taking a flight to Bogotá and that the Día de las Velitas is one of the most traditional Colombian festivals, it is maybe not at all incredible that I would come across some of Friday’s conga line dancers in the check-in line at the airport. Compared to a Colombian crowd, I am relatively tall, blond haired and blue eyed. It is thus not too improbable that I would be spotted as an odd one out at the festival. Yet, that the same person would be behind me in the two lines, is probably quite a coincidence.
Hence, based on these arguments, I have come to the conclusion that our reunion at the airport was not an incredible coincidence, but a quite credible — if not somewhat probable — coincidence. Incredible coincidence or not, meeting this girl at the airport was an enjoyable affair and a nice material for a story.