“It was a time we all have occasionally, fleetingly, when we feel close to the human beings around us, and are filled with hope for them and for ourselves, when we pray quickly and silently, even if we don’t believe in a god, that something will keep us safe and help us to become ourselves.” Karen Connelly (One room in a castle)
Following on from my previous blog about the places I’ve been on my many journeys, I’d now like to share 100 photographs of faces. These are some of the people I’ve met while travelling; individuals who’ve enriched my life immeasurably. Some remain lifelong friends. Others were brief, but memorable encounters. They all hold a place in my heart.
When trekking up Mt Kilimanjaro, I had assistance from my guide, who encouraged me with the Swahili words ‘pole, pole’ – slowly, slowly. In Malawi, when we needed to buy water from a local village, an old woman quipped that she’d take one of the young guys on our tour in lieu of money. In Brussels, when we asked for directions, a local shop owner insisted that our group of six squeeze into his tiny car, so he could drive us. In Japan, my cousin and I stayed with a family whose son had stayed with my Auntie for a couple of weeks in Australia. We were treated like royalty with overwhelming hospitality. The same thing happened to me when I was travelling solo in Switzerland. I visited a friend I’d met in Alaska and his family spoilt me rotten!
In Alaska, I did a Green Tortoise tour, and spent an incredible month travelling with the most amazing group of people, ranging in age from 19 to mid-70s. I feel incredibly lucky to still be in contact with half a dozen friends made on that trip, even though it was 18 years ago and we are now scattered across the globe.
Another time, in London, when I was short of cash and battling home-sickness, I met a girl who was planning a trip to Africa (where I’d just been) and we were immediately kindred spirits – I think Anne Shirley of Green Gables would’ve been proud of us. We talked for hours and hours; explored London together, without spending too much money; and even managed to score cheap tickets for Les Miserables, where we joked about flooding the theatre with our tears. We stayed in touch, for a time, after we went our separate ways, but then drifted apart. That was 20 years ago, but I still remember that week in London like it was yesterday.
It is the nature of travel that people come into our lives for a time – some to stay, others more fleeting – and this blog is dedicated to them all. I don’t have a photograph of every person I’ve met around the world, but their faces are alive in my memory. They helped shape me as a person – by educating me; by motivating and inspiring me; by sharing incredible experiences with me; and by taking the time to interact with me. I thank you all.