Making friends when you travel is not a hard thing to do, at least not for me. It can begin with a smile, a casual comment or shared humor. Neither party may intend to become lifelong friends, but, as the saying goes, one thing may lead to another and before you know it a beautiful friendship starts. Names are exchanged, and contact information given.
Not all friendships are created equal though. Some bonds are lasting, while others only endure for the duration of the excursion/group tour. On short itineraries, the acquaintances begin by sharing in minor pleasantries – sitting together at meal times, buddying-up on a hike trail, taking each other’s photos, etc. It is an unspoken understanding that at the end of the day, you will part company and go your separate ways, never to see or hear from each other again, but for the interim, you become friends and look out for each other.
It isn’t by preconceived design or because of an ulterior intent that this camaraderie is formed. After all, you did not know the other existed before the inevitable meeting. It would seem as if unseen hands guided you along so that your paths would cross. Then, when your worlds collide, a friendship blossoms into something special, for the moment, or for the long haul. Whether the relationship is fleeting or enduring depends on the chemistry and interaction of the individuals. If you hit it off like a house on fire, you may probably remain in contact and communicate impromptu from time to time.
I have experienced both types of friendships in my travels over the years. Neither kind is founded on protracted months of nurturing, or on a filial background. Yet, it takes each participant a certain level of commitment and interest to follow-up. Unrealistic expectations are not a part of the formation of the alliance. Frequent contact is not a do-or-die priority to either person. Rather, whenever contact is made, it is a refreshing opportunity to catch-up and ruminate familiar bonds that drew you together in the first place. I must interject, that it is hard to maintain a long distant friendship. Vacationers who return from whence they came, back to normalcy and business as usual, soon realize that life gets in the way. Time passes, memories begin to fade and so too does regular contact with the new friend, who up until a few weeks or months ago were a very real part of your world while enjoying a stupendous holiday.
In 2005, in New Delhi, I met a tall, lanky man who became a friend to me. He was a student studying in India and our common bond was our faith. I met him after rambling around the city of New Delhi (a story I would have to tell another time), before finally finding my house of worship. He loves to sing and was an active youth leader at the time I met him. He befriended me when I needed a friend in a strange land. Hi Samuel!
Again, in 2009, while traveling on a long-distant bus from Cape Town to Durban, I observed a tall, svelte young woman who sat across the aisle from me. From my peripheral vision I could see her every movement and I am sure it was the same for her. We did not approach or make any attempt to speak to each other during the ride. Throughout a few rest stops, and including a mechanical brake-down, we remained at a distant, but began to laugh at the puerile jokes by the bus attendant and other passengers as we rode along. When our bus finally arrived at the terminal in Durban, this same woman came to my rescue. The transfer to my hotel did not show up. She took me in her sister’s car to the hotel and in Afrikaans sternly scolded the desk attendants for the no-show. We have been good friends ever since. Hi Neliswa!
Four years ago, in Israel, I was at the ticket/entrance booth, about to walk the “Jesus Trail” in Capernaum when I heard a voice behind me saying, “Your accent sounds familiar.” No, it was not the voice of God. I turned to see a short blond woman smiling at me. I smiled back. We headed into the historical site together. We walked and talked exchanging names and pleasantries. By the time we finished peregrinating the historical site, we agreed to finish the rest of the trail together. She was driving a rental car and I was on foot. I was very glad for the invitation to ride with her and that was the beginning of a great friendship. We spent the rest of our vacation hanging out and sightseeing places together. Hi Danelle!
Last year, on my most recent trip to Peru, I met a senior lady. My sister and I were onlookers at a rally in light of the anticipated visit of the Pope in early 2018. The Plaza Mayor in Lima was filled with people, singing, chanting and dancing. I stood a distance from the stage and this older lady was standing next to me. We began to talk. I in my halting Spanish and she in her halting English. It was a combination that worked for both of us because we managed to exchange information and become fast friends. She told me she was a grandmother, and introduced me to her daughter and grand-daughter who later joined us. After sharing with each other for a while the family encouraged my sister and I to leave the plaza for our safety. They feared there would be violence and that it would be too dangerous for us as foreigners to be there in the midst. Suffice to say, we heeded their warnings. Hi Katya!
In 15 days I will be journeying to Southeast Asia. God willing, my trip will begin in the Philippines with intended escapes to Bali, Kaula Lumpur, and Singapore. I wonder who I will meet as I move from place to place. I expect I will form new friendships – fleeting and enduring. It will be interesting.
Community peeps what is your experience in making friends as you travel? Do tell. I would be glad to hear your thoughts on this. Share in the comment box below, click follow to join my blog community or like to show your love. You may also share my blog with your community. That’s all for now and thanks for reading.