Talking to Strangers
Interesting observations from a woman who travels solo.
Being an only child makes you inherently comfortable with spending time alone. It simply comes with the territory. Still, many only children are extremely social by nature. The level of comfort we take in solidarity doesn’t necessarily mean that is our preference.
Now thirty, my passion for travel is raging more than ever. Independent, I often find myself with the time & finances to travel and very few friends who are interested or able to accompany me.
Now, I simply dive in on my own, not thinking too much of it anymore.
Interestingly enough, it’s others reactions to knowing I am alone that still tend to surprise me. For instance, yesterday I flew from Athens to Crete and in the airport, sparked a conversation with a man in an Oregon State University sweatshirt.
Turns out, he’s not from Oregon or even the US but rather South Africa; traveling with his parents to visit is Brother in Law (the OSU alum) who is an American now stationed at the Naval Base on Crete.
He mentioned to his parents that I was traveling alone & his father got a very worried look on his face.
Later, in baggage claim, the kind man introduced himself to me and suggested they pick me up to go tour the island together.
Politely, I declined the invitation, telling him that I was staying an hour away in a small village.
He asked me how I was getting there and when I told him my host from AirBnB was picking me up, his ebony face nearly turned white.
“It’s okay,” I told him. “I feel very safe & always use good judgement.”
Sure enough, outside of the airport was my host Basilis, the absolutely picture of a handsome Greek man.
Again, the kind man asked me if I was certain and I smiled, shaking his hand and told him everything would be alright.
Fast forward an hour and Basilis & I arrived at his home. A beautiful traditional stone house, the quiet village welcomes you in with an immediate air of tranquility. His mother Popi was there to great us and asked quickly if I would like a Greek Coffee.
Together the three dined alfresco, farm fresh eggs over-easy with bright runny yolks, pan fried potatoes, crispy bread & traditional “Docas” like large bruschetta topped with fresh cheese, tomatoes & oregano. All of this was paired perfectly with locally produced Raki, a clear drink high in alcohol but smooth in flavor and back dropped by a stunning sunset. The evening could not have been any more delightful.
Conversation followed and Basilis asked me to tell him about my life. Interested in my travels he looked at me perplexed and ask “how do you feel traveling alone?”
“Fine,” I told him as I went through my normal response. It was his next question that really threw me for a loop though.
“What do you do when you want to talk to someone?” he asked.
“I just talk to someone.” was my immediate response.
“But how?” he replied. “Do you simply go up to a stranger & say ‘hey you! come talk to me.'”
“Kind of” I told him. ” People are always curious to learn about someone new and different and I guess I’m just far from shy.”
Perplexed, he simply smiled & shook his head at me.
We sat together swapping stories & sipping Raki until the sun fully set & I retired to my apartment after a very long day of travel.
“From halfway around the world” he says.
Indeed. Making long journies and talking to strangers who quickly become friends.