We’ve had plenty of opportunities to meet new people on our trip. Staying in hostels and going on walking tours and taking classes has introduced us to people from around the world, and it’s really neat to be able to share stories with others who are often doing something similar to what we are. They fill us in on what hostels to stay in and what walking tours to go on and what classes to take at our next destinations, and we explain that no, Colombia is not actually a dangerous places filled with drugs and crime, and tell them about the wonders of La Seranna and Tejo and the Medellin walking tour, among other things. Other travellers have really been our most valuable resource when it comes to finding our way to the best spots on this trip. Hopefully we’ve been able to help some people along the way as well.
At home it’s so easy to stick within our cozy circle of friends, who we love and miss, and rarely do I find myself making what I would consider to be a new friend. Meeting people on the road is drastically different, and friendships can form pretty instantaneously. Since we’re all so far from home, everyone’s thirsty for some kind of connection outside of the person we’ve been travelling with for who knows how long, and that makes us all so much more eager to open ourselves up to new people in a way that we wouldn’t at home. We also have nothing to lose. If it turns out that the guy sitting next to us at breakfast rubs us the wrong way it’s no big deal, because there’s a good chance we’ll never see him again. Travel friendships are like one night stands – they get serious quickly, but they’re over in a blink of an eye. You might exchange some contact info, but chances are you’ll have trouble remembering each other’s names in a few months.
We may not share many interests and might never have connected in our day to day lives, but we do have one thing in common: we love to travel. That’s enough to at least get us talking. Zevi and I often joke about the “traveller conversation” that almost always covers the following topics.
– How long we’re travelling for. Most people at home thought that three months was a long time to be gone, but the majority of the people we’ve talked to are on the road for longer than that.
– What point we’re at on our respective trips, and when we’re going home.
– Where we’re going and where we’ve been.
– Whether or not we quit our jobs, and what we do, or did, for a living.
Sometimes we find that we have more in common and the conversation continues, and sometimes there’s nothing more to talk about and we go our separate ways. At times I find it incredibly exhausting to keep starting from scratch with new people at each new stop. It’s like doing a phone interview with a potential employer every four days – the conversation is superficial and you’re trying not to make a fool of yourself because you’re hoping that maybe they’ll want to talk to you again (we usually avoid talking about salary expectations, though). We keep at it because it’s worth it when you find the right fit and things just click. This certainly doesn’t happen everywhere we go, but we’ve been lucky to meet a few really great people along the way.
I’ve come to realize that for us as humans, connection is everything. We’re always trying to build a bridge, to find that commonality that brings us together and allows us to relate to each other. Sometimes it’s easy to find, and sometimes it just isn’t there, but we’ll try and try again to create those fleeting bonds that travel can foster.