One of my absolute favorite favorite favorite things about traveling is the people I meet on my adventures. Over the course of my 15 years of international and much more of mainland and local travel, I’ve met some very quality people, many of whom I have built lifelong friendships with. In fact, these people are pretty much the only reason I keep an active Facebook profile (gotta give it up to social media for breaking down geographic barriers)! I wanted to introduce you to some of the people I’ve met during my travels … and while I haven’t stayed in touch with all of them, each and every one has left an indelible mark somehow.
Caitlin from Toronto – Met at Osheaga Music Festival, Montreal, Canada: Amanda and I met Caitlin and her boyfriend (and her best friend and her man, not pictured) at the electronic stage on Day 2. Amanda and I were cruising with JPatt and B-Roc of The Knocks under this big tree and we struck up a convo with Caitlin. She embodies the spirit of what music festivals are all about … Dancing, High Energy, Good Vibes. She actually ended up ditching her friends and coming with us to watch Macklemore after Azarii & III’s set. Oh, she also pointed out the fact that the tree we’re standing under is actually the Canadian Maple Leaf tree. You can kinda make it out in the right hand corner of this pic.
The Sales Director for Polaroid – Met river rafting in Ubud, Bali: I can’t remember this couple’s name, but Jayna and I spent some quality time with them on this adventure. He noticed the waterproof camera hanging around my neck (sorry, I hate this ancient photo of me so scribbled out my face) and said that he worked for Polaroid. This was in 2001, back when the Polaroid iZone sticker cameras were all the rage. We bonded over a shared love for cameras, and when we got back to Hawaii, discovered that he had sent us a year’s worth of iZone cameras and film!
Thomas, Theo, and Joan from France – Met in Reykjavik, Iceland: Thomas (behind me) was actually the first stranger I met while traveling through Iceland. He looked like a French Ashton Kutcher, and in spite of a slight language barrier, we enjoyed a beer while waiting for his friends to return from a shopping trip. The four of us had dinner at a Nepalese restaurant and then we parted ways. We’re still all connected on Facebook and I love checking in on their travel adventures from time to time!
Wild & Crazy Jonathan – Met in Tokyo, Japan: JK and I did a trip to Japan in 2012 and we met up with our boy Derek for a night of Shenanigans in Shibuya. It was there that we met his wild and crazy friend Jonathan (left). And while I can’t really offer up too many details from this unforgettable evening, let’s just say the stories may or may not have involved Nigerian money launderers, photo sticker machines, the smallest karaoke bar ever, and ladies of the night.
Agung Suta – Met in Bali, Indonesia: On our trip to Indo, Jayna and I didn’t want to be limited to Kuta or any of the other tourist towns in Bali, so we hired a driver. Specifically, we hired Agung Suta to drive us around for a week and some change. He not only drove us to each town that we stayed at (I believe it was 4 in total), but he also drove us from place to place in each town. Toward the end of our trip he brought us to his house where we got to meet his family and see how a local Indonesian family lives. It was a humbling experience. And yes, we are friends on Facebook =)
The World Organization for Human Rights Crew (and Mozgood) – met in Washington, D.C.: Some of my most memorable life experiences have come as a result of a fellowship I did my second year in law school at the international human rights law firm, World Organization for Human Rights. I got to room with my law school bff, made several really quality long-lasting friendships with my colleagues, and met Mozgood, who introduced me to rock climbing, music festivals, and hand-made high quality pinot noir.
Here’s a pic of the entire WOHR crew (minus Annie). I still keep in touch with a handful of them, and Adela (bottom right) has become one of my closest pals. I’ve been back and forth to the west coast to visit with her, most recently last month, when I got the chance to meet her new son Miles! And I have every intention of making my way to NOLA to visit Annie and Boston to catch Nadia (bottom middle stripes). Love these gals!!
James from Canada – met in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica: Tiff and I stayed kinda mellow on our Costa Rica trip, mainly focusing on daytime activities like beaching, hiking, and checking out the sloths. The one night we hit the town, however, we met James and his pal at the local reggae bar. It was James’ birthday and they were on their way down to Panama, where he heard the water was beautiful. To this day, he remains one of the greatest conversationalists I’ve ever crossed paths with. I see him on Facebook and Insta from time to time and am happy to see he’s doing well as ever!
Thomas (aka “Best Guy Ever”) – met on the Short Bus from Switzerland to Germany: Of all the people I’ve met while traveling, the story of how we met Thomas is by far my favorite. Rena and I had one night in Zurich, so of course we were (literally) running late to our super early morning bus ride back to Munich. When we got on the bus he was the only other passenger. I looked over and thought to myself, “What a hottie! Too bad he’s German (he was reading the German newspaper).” On our first bus break, however, he asked if we could take a picture of him in front of the bus. “Oh, you speak English? You were reading the German paper,” I said. To which he responded: “Oh, yeah, I’m from Montana. I was just looking at the pictures.” Suckaaaa! I took Tommy on a personalized bike tour when we arrived in Munich, and we’ve been lifelong friends ever since. He met up with us on a trip to Snowball Music Festival in Colorado and then last year he came out to visit me in Hawaii for the most epic 10 days ever.
The Costanza Twins and their Weirdo Cousin – Met in Rome, Italy: These guys barely made the cut, but they were just so funny that I couldn’t resist putting them on the list. We met them the same way you meet any guy in Italy … by being a female in Italy. They were very stereotypical Italians, but they were totally harmless and the guy with the brows in the middle was a massive clown. Ah, Italia …
Aneka & Edwina from Malta – Met in Iceland: I don’t even know where to begin with this one! I met Aneka and Edwina after posting an ad on couchsurfing.com looking for people to maybe go on a road trip through Iceland with me. I truly think this one was fate, because we had the most amazing road trip ever and I know that I will be friends with these girls for the rest of my life. I am also super sure that I’m going to make my way to Malta over the next couple of years and that we will go on at least one, if not many more trips together.
Study Abroad Crew – Met on Penn State Capitals of Europe Study Abroad Program: I spent the summer of my first year of law school doing a study abroad program with a few of my classmates. It wasn’t just any study abroad though, it took us through several cities (we did 16 in all, including our post-studies travel) with visits to all the major European courts, like the International Criminal Court & International Court of Justice. We spent a little over 2 months there and really bonded with some of our 40+ classmates.
In particular, we made some good friends with a group of guys from the University of Denver (where I happened to do my undergrad), and a few others. I still keep in touch with several of them and actually visited Greg & Kyle in Colorado a couple years ago. I also went to Coachella a few years ago with Ron, and Kebob Mike also set Tiff and I up with a cherry apartment when we did our fellowships in DC the next summer.
Al from the San Francisco Chronicle: Met at a journalist convention in Washington, D.C.: Well technically it was a newspaper writer convention, which might explain why I (then a magazine editor) look so different from my newspaper-reporter counterparts. I made one good friend at the conference, Al Saracevic (green shirt), a longtime sports reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. I tried to hit him up the last time I was in SF, but missed him by a few minutes. Solid guy, great writer!
Jenna Gal – met in Sebastopol, California: Jenna is one of my all-time absolute favorite people on earth and another one I feel I was destined to meet. I met her while visiting Mozgood in Sebastopol in 2011 and she is just one of the world’s most brightest, shining spirits. She exudes goodness and I just love her to death. Breezy and I met up with her on a 2012 trip to San Fran, where we all hit up the Pretty Lights concert then Jenna took us to the most dope underground of underground SF warehouse parties ever. She’s since gotten married and had two sons, who I cannot wait to meet on my next trip up. Love you Jenna Gal =)
Jun from Japan – met in Newgrange, Ireland: This picture was taken in Yokohama, Japan, where I had the opportunity to reconnect with Junko, a Japanese native I met while touring Newgrange in Ireland. Jun was traveling by herself and joined our group of gals for lunch. She’s a journalist in Japan so we had that in common. I stayed in touch and when we made it to Japan the next year, she met up with us for Japan’s Oktoberfest!
These amazing kids – met while volunteering in Cusco, Peru: In 2007 I did a volunteer trip in the small town of Cusco in Peru. These kids all have families, but they live so far outside of the city that they don’t have access to school, so they dorm during the week and go home on the weekends. The volunteers spent our days doing construction on their facilities and at night we’d attempt to teach them English and help them with their homework. This trip was a pretty life altering trip for me and these kids taught me a lot about life, perspective, and an appreciation for the simple things.
Malek from Tunisia – Met in New York City: While living in DC, Tiff and I would sometimes catch the Chinatown-to-Chinatown bus into New York. On one of our travels, we were just sitting in Central Park when this guy offered us a bike tour deal that we just couldn’t resist. I had already seen the park several times, but his tour was pretty unique. And he was the second person from Tunisia that I had met that summer, so now when I visit I have an extra familiar face to hit up. Years later when my friend went to the city for the first time, I set her up with Malek (yes, via Facebook), and he gave her the same quality tour!
Ben (Stiller) from Italy – met at the Jameson Factory in Dublin, Ireland: This is Ben, and he was the only guy at a Jameson tasting tour with our group of five girls. He ended up coming on a pub crawl with us the next day because he had a great personality and very much reminded us of Ben Stiller.
Adriano the movie maker – met in Rome, Italy: The very first night Darcie and I landed in Italy she wanted to get some rest, so I went downstairs to the bar in our hotel lobby, where I met Adriano and the rest of his crew. He’s a hard worker who not only bartends, but makes films on the side. He makes good drinks and eventually Darcie made her way down to share some with me. We’re still pals on Facebook and I’d surely hit him up again if I ever made my way back that way.
My family- met for the first time in Madrid, Spain: This story is pretty cool. When one of my family members on my dad’s side heard that I was heading to Spain, they told me that they were in touch with Elsa & Nick, some very distant blood relatives of mine. Nick brought a copy of our family tree going back to the 1800s and it turns out that Elsa and I share the same great great great grandpa!I haven’t since been in touch with them, but needless to say, it was pretty awesome getting to meet some family members I never even knew I had half way around the world.
Pascale from Canada – met in Iceland: On my first full day in Iceland I did a tour of the Golden Circle, where I met Pascale. We hung out most of the tour and took a ton of photos together, but unfortunately this is the only one I have since I lost my GoPro on that trip. Regardless, we bonded over female solo traveling and got to take what I presume to be (although I have no way of knowing) some pretty epic selfies while lying on a moss field in the middle of nowhere.
This flight crew from Hawaiian Airlines – met in Brisbane, Australia: Although they had been dating for over a year, I finally got to meet my cousin’s girlfriend on a very quick trip to Brisbane. She’s since grown into one of my faves. I also got to meet the rest of this fun flight crew and also a really freakin’ cute koala bear – a real one, not the one in the pic 😉
Evegny from Russia – met in Hofn, Iceland: So I met this guy in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. The sun was setting on the coast in Hofn, Iceland. Aneka, Edwina, and I were eating in pretty much the only restaurant in town, and I kept running outside to take pictures of the sunset. Every time I went outside I’d see Evegny sitting outside in a chair reading a book, drinking a beer, and enjoying the sunset. We chatted a bit then exchanged Facebook info (duh). Several days later we met up in Reykjavik, where he shuttled me to and from the Justin Timberlake concert. He’s a traveling sports medicine doctor and I definitely plan on visiting when he moves back to the Seychelle Islands, which is very very high on my bucket list. He also got me the most meaningful travel gift that anyone has ever gotten me – stranger or not. So grateful to have met him.
The Dublin Crew – met in Munich, German: These girls all worked with Rena at a law firm in Germany and they were the perfect mix to head to Dublin with! We packed a lot into our trip, including a visit to the famous Guiness tasting room!
Tatiano from Italy – met in Rome, Italy: Okay it probably seems like we met a lot of people in Italy – and we did – but no one was quite as memorable as Tatiano Picarazzi! Tatiano and his buddy were just the best compads to cruise around Italy with. They showed us where all the hot spots were, and unlike 90% of the guys in Italy, they were the perfect gentlemen. He claims he’d someday make it out to Hawaii to visit, but so far, no dice! Welcome anytime, friend!
Barack Obama – met in Washington, D.C.: Ha, just thought I’d throw this in for a joke …
The first time I met the POTUS was actually at Oprah Winfrey’s house in Santa Barbra. He walked up to Darcie and I and complimented us on our “Hawaiian ginger” leis (even though they were definitely pikake).
We weren’t really allowed to have cameras, but I managed to sneak a couple pics 😉
Oddly enough, Oprah’s house was not the first time I met her. That was back when Darcie and I were guests on the Oprah Winfrey show in Chicago and I got to shake her hand as she left the stage. Here’s a screenshot of that cherished moment.
And here’s me and Darcie actually chatting with the queen herself. And yessss, I realize I’ve fully digressed and gotten off track. But how could I not … It’s Oprah!!! And with that, I will end. Here’s to many more travels and many more meetings with strangers here, there, and afar.