For my part, I put responsibility squarely on AFS – American Field Service – for my desire to travel the world. AFS opened my horizons when it allowed me to spend a summer in Sweden when I was 17 years old.
We were driving into Kristiansund, a small town on the Atlantic where we planned to eat lunch. No idea about the town other than it looked pretty in the brochures. At the first roundabout, I took a “wrong” street. It put us at a harbor parking lot with a lone wooden building that said “coffee roaster” and “museum café” and had about 40 people sitting outside on benches. It was a warm, sunny day. Since we wanted lunch, we drove on, circled town, saw nothing eatery-wise to catch our attention, and being Sunday the stores were closed so the town looked quite dead. Gigi thought we should head back to the little place in the harbor as I was looking for smoked mackerel for Justin and I (seeing all the fisherman catching mackerel on the bridges picqued our appetite). Turns out, it was only a dessert place and so we found ourselves eating what food we had out of the trunk and promising the kids we could have a treat afterwards from the café.
In the café, the young girl behind the counter spoke an English that sounded just a bit too familiar to us. She asked us where we were from and we said California. Turns out she had spent a year of high school in San Luis Obispo. She asked, “Do you know AFS?” AFS Alum, just like me! That really got us talking. We talked
about the AFS chapter in Kristiansund, and where the 5 other Kristiansund high school students went in America. She said, “I was really lucky to get San Luis Obispo.” Oh, you got that right, girl, you got that right. My grandfather was born in Arroyo Grande just south of SLO in 1891. I spent many weekends and most summer vacations as a boy there at grandma’s house. I told her that we always went to Avila beach to swim and San Luis pier to fish. She then said that she actually lived in Avila Beach. Wow, a Kristiansund-Avila Beach connection!