Saint Hugo

Trip Start Aug 30, 2012
Trip End Oct 19, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In the small town of Hershey, Pennsylvania there lives a young man who goes by the name of Hugo. He hails from Portugal, but you wouldn’t guess it from his accent. He wears baggy ripped jeans, giant sneakers, hoodies, and headphones so big they take up a lot of his face. He looks like a hoodlum, but Hugo is the unlikely barn manager at a local farm I stayed on for the second leg of my stay in Hershey.


I first met Hugo bright and early Monday morning. I’d wandered down to the barn after breakfast to visit the horses and met Tommy, who helps in the stables, and offered to help bring horses in and out, muck stables out and help with feeding etc. He was a little baffled but introduced me to Jesse and Hugo, stating that if I came back that evening around five my help would be welcomed.

And help I did. Morning and night, I was there - bright eyed and bushy tailed while Tommy, Jesse and Hugo patiently let me get in the way. I’m sure I slowed them down but over the next three days they introduced me to each horse, the alpacas, the dogs, cats, goats and donkey. They let me feed them, bring them in and out and we talked and sang along to the radio while we cleaned stalls.

Something was obviously wrong. I had come all the way to the United States to visit a friend in Halifax, and yet every morning and come evening time I would appear in the barn, in my scrubby clothes, ready and willing to do whatever I could to distract me from the rest of Chocolatetown. And to their credit, or because they were boys, they never pushed me for an explanation. They offered a few manly words along the lines of ‘sometimes things get rough, it’ll get better’ but for the most part they continued on as usual, letting me get in the way, and it was a salvation of sorts. A distraction. And a big help.

I don’t know any more about Hugo than what I’ve told you, and I will never speak to him again, most likely. But he, Jesse and Tommy got me through a really tough time and they don’t even know it. So for that I thank them.

On paper, had I been visiting that friend from Halifax on a whim, being in the States anyway and randomly passing through, it would have been fine. It would have been a good effort on his part. We went out, we visited wineries, had dinner with his family and they set me up with a map of the game lands for my solo hike.

Unfortunately, though, I wasn’t there anyway on a whim. I was in the country specifically for this visit. He’d known I was coming for a year. I had been reassured all was fine. And then when I arrived, the excuses started. The things I’d been promised to be included in but was suddenly not welcome at, all came out of the woodwork. The drive between towns was suddenly longer than my 20 hour flight. And I was alone.

Some might say it was the coward’s way out. That of all the ocres, it was the medi-est. In an effort to be diplomatic, I’ll let you tell me what you think.

Sometimes there is no point arguing with someone. Sometimes someone truly thinks they have made a stellar effort. That they are so important and busy, and you are such a giant hassle, that what they’ve done is truly top notch, and you should be thankful.

It’s fine. I didn’t take time off work to see you either. Nor did I fly 16,000km and spend a lot of money. Except that I did.

There is nothing left to say.

You cut your trip short. You get in your car. You thank Saint Hugo for his kindness and you drive away. You do not stop through four states, through the shadow of the Shenandoah Mountains… til you find yourself in Charlottesville, Virginia. At Ms Kat’s door.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you aren’t worth a 25c text message that ‘isn‘t included in their plan‘. I don’t know why I did.

You are worth infinitely more. “Don’t ever be someone’s slogan. For you are poetry.”
Your B. x
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