Who have you met when you have traveled? I’ve been thinking about some of the people I’ve met in my travels, and these folks made lasting impressions on me, even if I can’t remember the names.
In my first adventure outside the United States, I had some amazing interactions with people I met as I traveled through Israel. Our Palestinian tour guide was an intelligent and congenial man with whom I enjoyed conversing. While in Jerusalem, three others and I braved the city streets on our own one morning. Walking through the Arab section of the city, shopkeepers were friendly and inviting. Of course, it did not hurt that they hoped to make a sale, especially to the first customers of the day. Later, as we traveled the country side, our group came upon the camp of a group of Bedouins, and we were welcomed into their tents for tea. Just being inside a Bedouin tent was an unforgettable experience.
A few years later, I made my first adventure into our neighbor to the north, Canada. I really didn’t know anyone, but I met people there who treated me as if I had been friends with them all my life, sharing meals with one lady in her home.
The HH and I traveled to Belize, and it was the people we met more than the sights we saw that left a lasting impression. One family we got to know and with whom we shared tea in their home shared their story with us. The matriarch of the family had come to Belize with the Peace Corp back in the days before the country was independent of Great Britain. She met and fell in love with an older man who had gone there to make his fortune in cattle. Listening to the rest of the story and seeing how she and her grown children were an integral part of their community was fascinating.
In Rome, we met a family in a restaurant not far from our hotel. On our second visit to this restaurant, my husband and I had finished eating and were talking a people watching as we enjoyed seeing how Italian families interacted over meals. One small family had come in while we were eating. It appeared to be a husband, wife, the child, and the parents of one or the other of the couple. As my husband and I sat chatting, the father approached our table. His son, who I think was six, wanted to come over a speak with us; they recognized us as Americans by our speech. He and his son joined us briefly. They got to practice their English, and we got to butcher the few Italian words we had learned. A few minutes later, the father returned with two pieces of birthday cake. We were full, but since the young boy wanted to share, we could not refuse. This family, led by a little child, had reached out to foreign tourists to include us in an intimate family celebration. This will always be one of my favorite memories of Italy.
As you hustle to see all that you can see while traveling, don’t forget to get to know the people. After all, we are more alike than different and getting to know them is a real treasure.
Have a blessed and happy day!