Strange Encounters: Leon Dormido

Weird things happen when you travel.

Jared sea lions Galapagos
Even weirder than this.

I like to think that it’s the universe’s way of telling you that you’re doing something right. That this is my path, that I’m following my intuition.

If that’s a little too new-agey for you, I understand. Just chalk it up to coincidence.

During our Galapagos trip, Jared and I spent 5 nights on San Cristobal. It’s a small island, about a 2-hour ferry from Santa Cruz. Note: the ferry trip is not pleasant. Seasickness tablets recommended. 

One of the attractions of San Cristobal is Leon Dormido, or Kicker Rock.

Here’s the weird thing about Leon Dormido – that’s it’s Spanish name, and when translated to English it means ‘Sleeping Lion.’ But in English it’s called Kicker Rock. From certain angles, the rock kind of looks like a sleeping lion. From no angle does it look like a kicker…anything.

Leon Dormido, Galapagos Islands
Okay, it looks like a sleeping lion from a distance.

So we decided to take a snorkeling trip out to the rock, stopping at Isla Lobos on the way. Our boat had about 15 people on it, from the US, England, Ecuador, Germany, and Australia. A fairly common mix of people, no real surprises there.

The Isla Lobos snorkel was spectacular, thanks to an inquisitive baby sea lion who repeatedly swam straight up to my mask before backflipping underwater and shooting down, inches from my body.


But that’s not the coincidence.

After the second snorkel, at the rock, the other American girl stayed behind because the water was freezing cold. I nearly followed her lead, but how often am I in the Galapagos? She was part of a volunteer project and had several weeks on the island, so I understood.

In the murky waters, we caught the outline of several sharks, including the unmistakable outline of a hammerhead. I felt so vindicated after having missed the hammerhead during my dive on Santa Cruz that I swam straight back to the boat, as fast as possible, to get warm.

The girl and I started talking through our chattering teeth. We continued talking as everyone else climbed back on the boat.

“So, where are you from?” she asked me.

“Indianapolis,” I said.

“Really? I went to high school in Indianapolis.”

“That’s funny,” I said. “Which high school?”

“Lawrence North.”

I nearly punched her in my disbelief. I felt like Elaine in Seinfeld, when she shoves people on the chest in shock, knocking them over.

Get out! So did I!”

We worked out that she had graduated in the spring of 1995, and I entered as a freshman that fall. We had just missed each other.

One of her fellow volunteers, an English guy, had been listening to the exchange and was gobsmacked.

“That’s not weird or anything,” he stammered. “It’s not as if the United States is a huge country or anything. No, totally normal that you two would have gone to the same high school.”

Blue footed booby, Galapagos
Even this blue-footed booby can’t believe the coincidence.

We didn’t become best friends; when we walked past her on the malecón the next day, I wasn’t even sure if it was the same person.

But I was glad just the same. It’s reassuring to get a little reminder that the world can still be a small place, no matter where you are.

Has something similar happened to you?

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  1. I’ve had so many moments like this. I’ve bumped into people I met months ago on the other side of the continent, and once I met a girl who’s dad owned the restaurant my flat leaked water into…busted 8 years later!

    1. That’s unbelievable – I can’t remember anything like that happening to me, besides this recent experience! Apparently it happens to people all the time. Hopefully she didn’t dob you in.

  2. Awesome. Here’s my version: I met a girl at a hostel in NZ who went to the same school as my best friend’s boyfriend, and actually dated him…at the same time my best friend was. It was a little awkward after that.

  3. Wait yeah didn’t I meet these girls in OZ who were roommates with one of my high school friends?? I remember it now! There wasn’t any secret-revealing in that encounter but still. Huh thats weird. Meet people erry where I go.

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