The best I can explain it is a knowing after meeting these rebels and wanderers, that our meeting was destined. Conversations revealed that we had a lot to learn and share with each other.
One of my favourite characters was Navraj, from Nepal. I bumped into this shaggy haired sweetheart at my hostel in Cape Town. All his shyness melted away when he discovered that I was from India.
We switched to Hindi and shamelessly blocked every one out. I’d been invited for dinner with some local girls and had returned to the hostel full bellied and ready to crash, but once we got talking, we didn’t stop for hours.
Navraj might not look the part, but this unassuming traveler has been to 87 countries! He’s on his 6th passport and was heading to Pretoria to get a new one since his 6th was full too. Through our conversation I went on an amazing journey with him from Norway to Namibia! He had a genuine curiosity and yearning to learn as much as he could about different cultures, religions, and lifestyles. Someday, we might have the pleasure of reading a book about his amazing journey. Though we might have to wait a while, he’s not done traveling yet, nowhere near actually. He wants to go to every country in the world and that may take a while!
When I asked him what he wants to do when he’s finally done, he shared that he wanted to return to Nepal and join Politics to serve his people. With the wealth of knowledge and perspective he’ll return with, I’d vote for him for sure!
Navraj was very generous and insisting on buying me beer and sharing his dinner with me. Even with a full stomach, that kind offer was impossible to decline.
I met New Yorker Katie with her childhood friend Lerie. The two were on a short vacation in Cape Town. Katie’s an open, warm 23 year old who’s been living in Swaziland for the past year as a Peace Corps volunteer. She lives in the middle of nowhere in a tiny hut with no running water or electricity with a local family.
Her area of focus is Health, and she works with the local community in AIDS awareness and prevention. She has another year to go and we shared a great evening talking about how our travels had changed our worldview and how annoying people’s cynicism is and how baseless it is in most cases. Absolutely delightful girl but sadly, I can’t seem to find any pictures of her on my camera!
Another lovely girl I met in Cape Town was Elen from Brazil. Elen has a personality that can fill up all the space in any room. She’s talkative, vivacious and refreshingly honest. This girl is incapable of telling a lie if her life depended on it. She might piss off a lot of people but I don’t think she notices. Just as well actually, I can’t imagine her weighing her words before speaking.
Elen and I spent a lot of time together; she’s a guaranteed laugh a minute and it’s impossible not be in a great mood around her.
We left Cape Town on the same day , she for Greece and I for Johannesburg. I’m sure I’ll be seeing her again.
Then there was the Australian couple Christine and Garry. This fifty something couple were on a three-month vacation in Africa. Once I got talking to Christine, I was dumbstruck by her stories.
Christine was a backpacker before there were Lonely Planet guidebooks, the Internet or even a quarter of the flight routes connecting the world today. She’s traveled to 79 countries and thrilled me with stories of her backpacking with her best friend back in the 70s.
The two of them also gave me tons of advice for my travels in Africa and the Middle East and were very candid about how they buckle down and save cash so that they may travel longer and further.
This post will need a part 2! More later.