‘A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles’
It is the people who you meet on your adventures that can have the most impact on you. They can make a travel day brighter, journeys more memorable and they become an unforgettable part of your memories!
Here are 7 people who have had an unforgettable impact on my travelling life;
My Grandmother, Olga
My grandmother, Olga started travelling when she was in her 50’s and between then and her 80’s crammed more trips into that time, that most could imagine. Travels with her were an adventure in being ‘local’ and not staying behind the walls and gardens of a resort but rather getting out and eating on the streets, catching local buses, trains, tuk tuks, taxis or just walking. With the beauty and elegance of Grace Kelly, and a smile that reminded you of Mother Theresa she had a charm and warmth that caused people to gravitate to her which meant that street hawkers, food vendors, restaurant owners, hotel concierges, drivers, cabin crew and so many more became our friends. She taught me that travel is a wonderfully exciting thing and embracing other cultures is as rich and beautiful as it should be!
I met Jeff while travelling through the US. We had decided to spend a summer in a small mountain town and Jeff was one of the first people we met while out at a bar. With his unbridled enthusiasm for life and all things outdoors, I couldn’t help but be drawn into weekends of mountain biking, climbing, rafting, walking and of course dancing. Jeff epitomised all that was adventurous and fun in life which I fully subscribed to and loved every minute of. He taught me to make the most of the outdoors, to enjoy every minute outside and to celebrate adventures properly with a cocktail at the end of each day!
The Columbus Crew
I spent a few months staying with a friend in Columbus, Georgia one summer. In doing so I was taken in and ‘adopted’ by her amazingly fantastic group of friends. A great bunch of men and women who welcomed me with open arms as a member of their tight-knit family and with such great warmth. Hanging with them no matter what we did was just good fun whether it be a weekend away, a night out, a home cooked dinner, coffee, shopping, bio eroding, running or just kicking back and hanging on the balcony with a glass of wine. With them I felt that great feeling of being looked after and welcomed by a bunch of strangers who became great friends.
Wayan worked at a villa I stayed in up in the mountains in Bali. At the time I was riding my bike around Bali and I ended up staying a few days in this remote villa. Wayan and the guys who worked at the villa were both friendly, fun, respectful and easy to chat to. One day while chatting, Wayan mentioned a ceremony he was attending for his cousins and invited me to join him and his family. The next day from sunrise until late in the evening I found myself at his uncle’s home surrounded by his family, relatives and friends participating in a ‘coming of age’ ceremony. Wherever I went that day I was welcomed as a member of the family, laughed at, embraced and looked after. The ceremony was traditional with many changes of outfits, a holy man, offerings, prayer, music and of course in true Balinese style, laughing! It was a cultural experience I will not forget for the ceremony, the food, singing, dancing, laughing and the warmth of the family unit I was part of for that day!
Harry loved life. I spent a short summer with Harry and his family in New Zealand. Like most New Zealanders, he loved the outdoors, was chilled, laid back and friendly. However what set Harry apart was his zest for life and the ease at which he embraced the environment he was in whether it was a hike, a run, diving for abalone, dancing at an outdoor music festival, cooking a bbq, singing under the stars or camping. Harry was excited about life, about discovering new things, meeting new people and you could not help but be swept up in his happiness and joy at everything. I learnt to love the moment, live in it, embrace it, laugh in it and enjoy every waking minute of it!
Carlos and his wife Maria owned a guest house in Honduras where I stayed longer than I planned. Every day Carlos joined in on the adventure coming diving, walking, swimming, eating, dancing and drinking with us. He just joined in the fun easily and freely and it was that free spirit that I loved. No matter what we were doing, Carlos embraced it 100% and loved it. Also being a guest house owner, he knew everyone such was his personality and nature. Oh and let’s not forget, he was an ex chef so we were treated to ceviche and rum cocktails on his roof top terrace with views of the ocean and the mountains! Carlos was all that is happy and free in the world loving the simple pleasures of life – outdoors, food and people.
Drummond was actually not a person but a husky I met on a trip to the Yukon a few winters ago. He was a large-sized dog and in true husky style full of love and energy. Drummond actually hated small spaces so instead of having a little kennel like the other dogs, Drummond had a nice large open space protected on 3 sides but with no roof. I loved this dog just because he reminded me of myself – a little different, a little sensitive but strong and full of love all at the same time and whilst he wasn’t on my team, I made time to hang with him as much as I could.
I could actually go on and on really as there are so many wonderful people who have travelled in and out of my travel life of which I am both thankful and grateful for and I hope that list only grows longer as I grow older and continue to travel.