About the people we meet

(This article is part of a series called:  Checking in at 6 months.)

Meeting people from all over the world, from all walks of life, of all ages has been one of the highlights of this journey thus far for me.  Encounters are sometimes fleeting yet they touch you in some way, like the guy from Canada with whom we shared a taxi when we first arrived in Buenos Aires.  He was travelling in memory of his mom who had passed away from cancer two years ago, but was also working through issues with his aged father who had abandoned the family many years earlier.  He was on his way to volunteer at a home that sheltered aged, abandoned men.  Yes, all this was learned in a brief taxi ride.  I took an immediate liking to this gentle soul and would have welcomed the opportunity to get to know him better. But as quickly as he appeared, he was gone.

Other encounters have spanned days or even weeks as was the case with the friends we made on our two cruises (Galapagos Islands and Antarctica), and often friendships continue afterwards through comments on our blog or via email.

The process of meeting people while travelling has been fascinating to observe.  Sometimes all it takes is a smile or a friendly greeting to strike up a conversation which in turn may spark the beginning of a new friendship. An openness towards and curiosity about other cultures attracts like-minded individuals. The subject of travel becomes the common thread that binds you to strangers.  A pseudo-intimacy forms quickly, as I think we all share the need to connect and to feel connected, perhaps all the more so when we are travelling.  Without the luxury of time and experience to develop and nurture a friendship, I am often surprised at how willingly people offer themselves openly and without reservation – the gift of friendship offered and received with gratitude.

Thus far, most of the people we have met have also been travelling; sometimes we bump into the same people several times over a period of days or weeks as we are travelling similar routes, something that always leaves me quite incredulous. The sheer coincidence of meeting people for a second, third or fourth time is remarkable! It makes the world seem very small. We have met a few locals along the way and I’ve always embraced these meetings as an opportunity to learn about and to better understand their culture and what life is like for them.  I am so curious about people, insatiably so it seems at times.

Of course, we’ve heard and read about all the bad things that can and do happen to foreigners, especially naïve travellers, but luckily for us so far, we have been the recipients of or witnesses to the kindness of strangers rather than being victims of the schemes of ruthless, desperate people.

I hope the next six months will continue to bring us in contact with special people, travellers and locals alike. [read more]


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