I just arrived from a mini vacation in Montreal, Canada. If you’ve never been, you must go and visit. It is called “The Hidden Gem of North America”, and it surely is a gem. Where else can you have a taste of Europe for half the price? It is literally like being in a European country but in your own backyard. It’s only 7-9 hours drive from Philadelphia and if you go with a bunch of friends, it could be a good road trip on a weekend or so.
But that is not why I’m writing this post. If you notice the title “Pastafarianism” , you would think it is irrelevant to Montreal but it is. Let me tell you why.
This is why I enjoy traveling. I travel not only because of the places I get to see but the wonderful people I meet along the way. Traveling gives way for us to make new friendships. At times, those friendships spans a lifetime. One time, I was traveling from Baltimore to California and I met this guy who recently came back from backpacking in Chile and Argentina. I struck a great conversation with him. He showed me photos that started my interest in travel. I told myself, “One day, I am going to see all that!”
Since then, I’ve traveled through the depths of the earth. I’ve met wonderful people along the way and some of them, I still keep in touch with to this day.
An interesting thing happened while I was in Montreal. Coming out from the bars at around 3:00 a.m., we were hungry so we decided to go to McDonald’s for a bite to eat. While waiting in line, I noticed this gentleman in a mohawk who looked cute and interesting, chatting with one of the guys there. I thought they were friends because they seemed to be immersed in a funny conversation. This McDonald’s is located on Catherine St. in downtown Montreal. You may call it Montreal’s gayborhood. I figured that this cute gentleman is gay and there to celebrate DiverCite which is like gay pride in Montreal.
We ordered our food and sat down. I had to go the bathroom really bad so I got up to go to the bathroom but the door was locked. I sat back down and waited. A gentleman went in and the door swiftly swung open when he turned the knob. I thought, “It must be me.”. So when the gentleman was done, I got up again and tried to open the bathroom door only to be stopped again because it was locked. I went back to our seat and watched. People go in and out of that bathroom, opening and closing the door with ease. I was wondering why I could not open the door at all. Finally, I saw “cute mohawk guy” stand up, go to the bathroom and swings the door open. I tried to catch the door while it was open but it locked behind him and I couldn’t open it again.
We started eating as I waited for “mohawk man” to come out of the bathroom. Ironically, he was seated next to us. The guy he was speaking with earlier had left. I asked him politely, “How did you open the bathroom door that easy when I couldn’t?” “I don’t know!”, he replied. “You just have to push it harder, I guess!”. He got up from his seat and I followed right behind him. He opened the door and voila! It was unlocked. I went inside to take care of business and when I got out, I glanced at him and said thank you.
We got into talking. I found out that he is an Irish guy, 22-years of age and traveling Canada and the U.S. on his one month break from the Irish Army. His name is Ollie (short for Oliver). I haven’t had an interesting conversation such as what I had with him in a very long time. He was very engaging and funny to say the least. I was also enamored by the fact that he is a straight man who supports LGBT people even going as far as saying that he supports gay marriage. The most interesting fact I learned about his was that he is an atheist. He corrected that statement immediately saying that he is not an atheist but a pastafarian. His religion believes in The Flying Spaghetti Monster. I chuckled when he said that and he insisted that I look it up when I get a chance. It is a real religion. I checked Facebook for Pastafarians and found 139K likes the page. So, it’s no joke. I am still unsure if it’s a parody religion or a real religion. I suspect the former.
Anyway, I liked him very much. I was joking with him, talking about Montreal and travel experiences. After we were done eating, my friends wanted to head back to our hotel. I couldn’t keep them and we were all drunk anyway so I decided to say goodbye to my newfound friend, Ollie. I hugged him and quickly planted a kiss on his cheek. He told me that he will be at The Old Port the next day to celebrate DiverCite. He also told me that he will be looking for me there. With doubt in my mind, I said, “There will be thousands of people there, how are you going to find me?” “With your head, I don’t think I will miss you.”, he said jokingly. We laughed and we said our goodbyes.
The next day, it was raining really hard and I figured, it would probably not be worth it to go to the festival so I didn’t go. The day after, it was the same way. My friends and I went in the evening. It was still drizzling and it was a bit chilly. There was a drag show and although the performance was really awesome, the rain prevented the crowd from coming to see the show. There were probably a couple hundred people there but Ollie was not one of them.
I went home to the hotel, disappointed. Sad that I wasn’t able to see him again. It was as if we met and it was done. I saw myself in him when I was his age. I saw a man, hungry for knowledge and adventure. He kept me interested in the way he spoke and the way he thought about things. It was a refreshing change.
Then came Sunday. The day before we were to leave Montreal. I haven’t seen a sight of Ollie and figured that I will probably never speak to him again. My friends knew how excited I was to have met such a wonderful guy with a lot of enthusiasm. They knew that I wanted to maintain a friendship with him. In a minute, one of my friends suggested that I Google him. But what is there to Google? There are only a few things I know about this guy. He’s Irish. His name is Oliver (Ollie for shore). He is in the Irish Army. And he’s 22-years old practicing Pastafarianism. What would come up when I Google him.
I turned my phone on, opened the browser and went to Google. I typed the following: “Irish, Oliver, Army, Pastafarian”.
Guess what came up:
I clicked on the link and this photo came up:
I couldn’t believe my eyes! I was able to contact him through Twitter and we’re in touch again!
I guess my prayers to The Flying Spaghetti Monster was heard. And that Ollie and I were meant to become friends.
Nice to meet you Oliver!