Why do I(we)travel
I am often asked why I travel. Motives for the trip can be different, but basically, everyone would like to feel and experience something. Usually, these are resting, change, nature, food, socializing, … I am trying to experience something new; it can be a new landscape, a taste, an activity, a monument, a city… Yet for me, the journey is made meaningful by people and interaction with them. Below are 3 stories that outweigh all the effort and expense incurred along the way.
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I drove around Iceland last summer. I picked up several hitchhikers along the way. But here I will mention two guys from the US (Glendon and Joseph) that I pick up in Akureyri. They wanted to go to Hvitserkur, which was about an hour out of my path towards Reykjavik. When I drove them to the location I share gin and cigarettes with them. We exchanged contact information before I left. In the fall, I traveled to the U.S. and stop in Philadelphia, among other places, where we met again. They picked me up at the bus station and take me to the hostel. But the hostel was not at the address and after a couple of calls we find out that it had moved to a new location. My reservation at Hostelworld.com was not valid and they did not report their mistake soon enough. We called around and found only available room in a hotel for $ 400. I play with an idea of sleeping at the bus station when they offer me to sleep over at their place. After dinner, we head to Lancaster County, the land of the Amish. Along with pumpkin pie, pelinkovec and Southern Comfort, we had a debate about cultural differences, the world, religion, Joseph’s upcoming wedding, and much more. The next morning they drove me to Philadelphia. I saw many Amish buggies on the way. Openness and kindness turned a potentially bad experience into a wonderful hangout. Good deeds pay off.
In India, we covered most of the route with trains. Here I will describe the worst and at the same time the most beautiful experience. On the way to Jaisalmer, we didn’t get any other tickets than the ones in the lowest class, we still paid extra for the reserved seats. As soon as we boarded, it was clear that this was a mistake. We spend 15 minutes getting on the train After a bit of a fight, we came to our 2 seats, where 7 people are crowded. After our complaints, the mother moved one child between the luggage. It soon becomes clear that we will not be able to stand for 8 hours and we moved on to the higher class at the next station. The conductor allowed us to stay on the floor. My friend soon fell asleep, and I get involved in a conversation with the co-sufferers sitting next to me. In the meantime, I feel sick and even vomit on the toilet. I notice that one of the guys had a red bracelet that I had seen in many Indians. I asked him what it means. He explained to me that it is like a kind of amulet for protection and it is given among family members. I said I will buy one for my sister at the next station. And he answered me that he would give me his own, and take it off and give it to me. I was left speechless, kindness in itself.
On the bus from Mauritania to Mali with Boško, we met Cisse on a 36-hour drive. The boy played football in Nouakchott, but did not get paid for six months and said he would rather sit at home than play for free. The journey is dragging on, we are waiting at the border for a few hours, but no one cares that I am not vaccinated against yellow fever. Finally, Cisse offers us to sleep at his place in Bamako. We enthusiastically accept the offer. Upon arriving in the city, we move to the suburbs and it looks a little dodgy. If we understand correctly, we are in his sister’s house, where there are a lot of children. In the evening we went for a walk around the city, we had a beer and he doesn’t drink alcohol. We order something for dinner, he said he will eat it at home. We later learn that he shared dinner with his family. We slept on his mattress, it’s a slightly thicker quilt, and he slept on the floor next to us. During the night, I am awakened by a mouse spinning around my legs. Cisseaccompanied us with a friend to the station during the night. I give him a pocket knife, said goodbye and this is the last contact I had with him. People who have less are willing to give more.
But there are many more such stories. A family that offers us a home in Mexico, Beny at his inn in Tirana, parents from Nan in Thailand, Couchsurfing in Brussels, Ghana in Mongolia, … Share a moment with someone you met for the first time and don’t have much in common, but you connect anyway.
Meeting friends on the road is also an important part of the experience and enriches any trip. But in some other article, I will write about Manca in Mexico, Iztok in Madagascar, Phuket in Thailand …