The People you Meet
Well I arrived back to Red Chilli in Kampala, Uganda for the 3rd time in 2 months I was immediately excited. We took some time and got our rooms sorted out and me and a friend quickly made use of the bar and chose a table outside. Within about 5 minutes we had a table of 4, two Canadians, a man from Israel, an a man from Nigeria. Tuskers’ were being enjoyed and another friend of mine joined in for a game of darts. It was quickly decided after this game that tonight we’d be going out to a famous club in Kampala, known as Iguana. So we left Red Chilli around 12pm and walked down to catch a few boda’s, what we didn’t realize is that in the competition for customers, 3 beauties would drive by in a dump truck and offer a ridiculously lower price. How could we say no? So we climbed into the empty box of the truck, stood right near the front rail and took off down the road toward where we thought the bar was. We were driving around Kampala at midnight, with 3 friends I’d just met, wind in our hair, and after a 20-minute ride we’d arrive in style at Iguana, dump truck style. The whole experience could only make you smile, because quite frankly there’s not many places in the world where you can pay a passing dump truck a small fare to take you out to the bars!
The next morning at breakfast I was sitting across from a man who through conversation learned that he runs a Toronto-based NGO in Uganda and makes regular trips to and from. The benefit of such a relationship is that he knew the workers of the Canadian consulate personally, so when one of the group members lost her passport I was able to get direct connection to the right people.
In the span of a 10-minute conversation with a man from Vienna I learned of a 60′ Dau (wooden sail boat) being built on the Kenyan coast to house 12 people planning on sailing the coast and docking to help out in different remote areas for a few weeks at a time. So in 4 days time I’ll be heading down to the coast to help build this boat, and meet whoever else is doing the same.
I’ve met Brits, Germans, Scotsman, Irishmen, Swedish, Polish, Norwegian, French, Swiss, Australian, South African, Zimbabwe(an?), and other Canadians, and each person bares a fresh perspective, and a subjective opinion to wherever it is you interact with them. I’ve stated it before, but to reiterate; meeting, approaching, and sparking up conversations with strangers when travelling, especially alone, is incredibly vital to your whole experience. Sure a lonely planet can give you great tips on where to eat & sleep, but it doesn’t give you an opinion, it doesn’t introduce a new idea, and it doesn’t tag along on cool adventures you might learn about. Whether it’s a quick night out, or a few weeks/months of travel the people you meet travelling are perhaps the most defining aspect of your trip.