It’s fascinating with all the different people you meet when you travel the world. And in the most unlikely places! Here are a couple of stories that I was thinking about recently:
My dad never gets caught speeding at home in Sweden, but it has frequently happened abroad… There was this one time in New Zealand, he was driving a campervan (sorry, I just love to embarrass him!), and a police stopped us. At first the police was stern and annoying, but after giving my dad a ticket he turned into this wonder guy! For 30 minutes he then told us stories about New Zealand and some Maori legends about the relationship between two of the volcanoes and it was fascinating!!! I don’t want to encourage speeding, but this time it was so worth it!!! BTW, I just have to point out that I have never been caught speeding.
On my first day in Los Angeles we were up bright and early because of jet-lag (I like jet-lag when traveling west, because that’s the only time I ever wake up early without hating it!) and while waiting for things to open we went for a walk around the neighborhood. Needless to say, we were the only people out walking. I’ve learned that it’s not very common in California (compared to in Europe anyway), except for this one guy I met on the sidewalk. He surprised me by saying “Welcome to Los Angeles!” – Without a hello or anything! I’ve got no idea how he knew we had just arrived, I never thought to ask. But we got chatting and talked for quite some time. Turned out he had been to Sweden and knew places I knew too. He was really nice and it was such a neat thing to happen on my first day in Los Angeles – I felt very welcome!
On the flight from Sydney, Australia to Mumbai (Bombay), India we met Mr. Ohm. I was up walking and I happened to be looking out of one of the windows at the wonderful red Australian desert beneath us when this guy comes up to me and starts talking. At first I was a bit uncertain since I had no idea whatsoever who he was, but soon my curiosity won me over. And my parents joined me and they continued talking with him for hours (that’s the thing with long flights, you’ve got plenty of time to get to know new people!), long after I got tired and turned my attention to some movie. Anyway, it turned out this Mr. Ohm had a travel agency Orbitz in Mumbai and he arranged tours to Europe for Indians among other things. This time he’d been a guide on a trip to Australia. He was full of information about traveling, both in India and all over the rest of the world. In the end he gave us his business card. So the next day we visited his travel agency office where he told us about the different parts of India and helped us to decide where to spend the next couple of weeks. Which places to visit, which hotels to stay in, what to see and what to do. This was perfect for us since we had no plans and only a Lonely Planet guide to help us. Not that Lonely Planet India isn’t a perfectly good book, but I’m afraid none of us had patience to study all the 1000+ pages to see what might interest us…
These were people that I met once (so far, at least) and never again. They were strangers that I only met briefly but never forgot because of the great impression their kindness made on me. Then there are those whom you meets randomly with no idea how significant this one meeting will have on your future life.
There’s this wonderful example from that time 8 years ago when my mum started talking to a guy while they were both doing the dishes at a camping in southern Spain… It turned out he was Swedish and he was there with his wife and their 4 daughters who were the same ages as me and my siblings. Those girls have been our best friends ever since then! Even when we don’t see each other for 6 months because we happen to in different parts of the world we always keep in contact and I love every moment I spend with them!
Thank god my mum was doing the dishes that day!!! And I’m afraid to think that if we’d stayed at home we’d probably never have met them, even though they are Swedish too. Sometimes you have to go to the other side of the world to finally meet a neighbor!