Writing about my travels is a real struggle sometimes, especially if too much time passes. Things I remember the most clearly about my trips are the people I’ve encountered along the way. I’ve always wanted to keep track of new friends or strangers I’ve met, whether we have decided to keep in touch or not. Who knows, the world is small and everything happens for a reason.
Pablo, the guy from Seville
-We were lost and hungry, looking for the Contenedor Restuarant highly recommended by our Airbnb host. (Sidenote: I love going to restaurants recommended by Airbnb hosts. I have stayed in over 30 Airbnbs since early 2014 and every time I’ve done something that a host has recommended it always turns out to be one of the best things I do during the trip. I’m not saying this just because I work there, it’s just been true from my personal experiences. I’ll probably write about it later). Jenny and I were walking around in circles until she stopped a stranger on the street for directions. His name was Pablo, and he was really cute in a socially awkward kind of way. He was really excited to practice his English and offered to walk us there since it was close to where he was going. I felt really empathetic towards him as he proudly told us (in broken English) how he improved his English when he moved to London once, but then how lonely he felt there because the people seemed cold and didn’t hug or kiss him. He also had a lot of free time because his girlfriend of seven years broke up with him and he was sad. Sometimes when words are broken down into their simplest forms, they hold more meaning. I could hear layers of complicated emotions through his simple sentences and just wanted to adopt him into my crew of imaginary Spanish friends so that he wouldn’t feel lonely or sad anymore. I gave him a BIG hug and a peck on both cheeks when we got to the restaurant, thanked him and bid him farewell.
Miriam, the girl from Algarve
-When I was getting on my bus to leave Spain, I saw a couple holding each other by the luggage line, crying and kissing passionately at the same time. Even though I was irritated that I lost my iPhone, my heart broke a little just watching them. We all boarded the bus and the girl ended up sitting next to me and it was kind of uncomfortable cause tears were just pouring down her face as she frantically waved her lover goodbye one last time. She was older, but still very pretty and when she was calming down I tried to think of something comforting to say, so I blurted out something stupid like ‘Will you ever see him again?!” She cried more but then we became bus buddies. Miriam and her boyfriend met in London on a retreat, and they traveled through Europe together for the past few months. He was now leaving back to the States and she was returning to her hometown in Portugal. She would fly to Arizona to be with him after he goes on a trip to India, in March, and I didn’t want to ask what their plans would be after that. Of course I told her how painfully well I could relate, and we spent the entire four-hour ride talking about long distance love. It was encouraging to see two other souls out there, seeking a place in this world where they could both be happy and be together.
Ben, the guy from Seattle
-I don’t meet a lot of Americans abroad, so I was thrilled to hear a west coast accent from the hostel kitchen in Lagos. It belonged to a dude named Ben, from Seattle. He had left the country for the first time to move to France, where he worked in a French kitchen for six months. His dream was to become a culinary master, but he needed a break from those infamously cut-throat kitchens and decided to do some traveling for now. I was surprised to learn that this was his first time leaving the States, and he wasn’t sure where he was going next. He also used the hostel kitchen to cook for himself, and carried a tent with him in case he needed to camp out while hitchhiking through the country. He was really cool and I was happy to explore some of Lago’s beaches with other new friends from Germany the day we both checked out of the hostel. The sun finally came out, so we both checked back in and stayed for another day.
The guy in the hostel from Cork
-This guy was hilarious. He was my friendly bunk buddy at Casa de Caracol Hostel, just an Irish dude on holidays for a little over a week in Cadiz. His sunburnt skin showed that he had probably been trying to get a tan and he was super impressed that I had been to Cork before and that I pronounced it Caaaaarke. A bunch of us went to a local flamenco show together at La Perla (absolutely mesmerizing, a MUST DO!) and continued on for drinks in town, but a few of us came back early to sleep. Around 6am my friend Jenny texted me from across the room “I can’t use the bathroom. The Irish guy is in there and he’s passed out on the toilet! His pants are all the way down too!” I dismissed it because that’s what happens in hostels sometimes, and she found another bathroom to use. Around 8:34 am, someone was poking my foot so I woke up and it was the dude (I wish I could remember his name!) drunkenly whispering “SO sorry to wake you! Can you set your alarm and wake me up at 8:45? I lost my phone so I don’t know what time it is and I need to catch the train.” Me (trying to keep a straight face): “Sure, but that’s in 11 minutes.” Him (looking like #icanteven): “Oh. That is the worst news ever, isn’t it huh.” I’m not sure if he ever made it or not.