Two nights ago I met up with my friend Stefan for some deep dish pizza and travel stories. We had only hung out once prior, in Santa Elena, Costa Rica about two years ago. Santa Elena is the little town outside the popular Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. No, the guy in the photo above is not Stefan. I just decided to snap that photo of some random backpackers because it was so typical of our lives on the road – acoustic guitar, beer, hammock, and a pollo (chicken) joint across the street from the hostel.
So it was a little over two years ago that we hung out in the cloud forest, toured a cheese factory after an unsuccessful attempt to find a giant waterfall, and dined at that pollo place. Since then, we managed to e-mail each other the occasional update on our respective lives. Earlier this year, he sent me some of his experiences from India, which I promptly posted. And after his internship in Germany wrapped up, he bought a car in Philly, and swung through the Washington, DC area on his way back home to Phoenix, AZ.
Unfortunately, this experience was the exception, not the rule. Despite the best of intentions, I've found it rare that I'm able to connect with the guys and gals with whom I share some really great experiences abroad.
For example, in Montezuma, Costa Rica, I stood atop a 30-foot waterfall, asking that a guy snap a photo of me as I jumped off. He took the pic, and I wrote my e-mail address on a piece of paper the size of my pinkie. Needless to say, I never saw that photo. In Belize last year, I spent several days with a group of friends from Richmond, VA (90 miles from me). We swam, drank, snorkeled, ate, and fished together. It was a blast. I gave one of the guys my contact info, and never heard from them again. Earlier on that trip, I hung out with a couple of guys from the British army during their R&R. Before their sad departure back home, Darren gave me his e-mail address. When I got home, I tried e-mailing him, only to have the messages bounce back.
Does anyone else find this happens to them?
PS – Stefan initially planned to camp during his cross-country drive to Phoenix, however he has found the CouchSurfing options so numerous, that he's taking that approach instead. In Alexandria, VA, he was staying with a doctor and his family (in the nice part of town). When I met up with him, he was using a mountain bike they had lent him for the day!