The People in Your Travels

A few weeks ago I wrote about my experience with St. Pierre et Miquelon, the isolated French islands off the coast of Newfoundland.

I wrote about how a kind lady named Madame Luberry took us students in, treated us like family, fed us, and introduced us to French culture.

A French website picked up my blog post, and the hits I received were insane. And then I received this comment:

“Hi, I am glad you enjoy your visit on the islands. I was born there and now live in Canada. Just wanted to let you know that Madame Luberry (my aunt and god mother) past away in Paris last summer. I was at her funeral in Saint-Pierre this summer and I agree with you; she was a wonderful and extraordinary woman. I am so happy that I got the chance to see her the summer before in Saint-Pierre. She was already an angel on earth!”

My heart fell so hard when I read that comment; I emailed the niece to express my condolences personally, almost a year after it happened. A genuine sense of loss.

Life is weird. Eight years after my visit to the islands, with this lingering sense of nostalgia and longing, I’ve reconnected with the place in a different way. A stranger out there in Internet-land stumbled upon my blog, and realized I was talking about their loved one. I’m blown away by how the world is getting smaller.

Then I read Julie’s post questioning what would happen if the Internet crashed today. Our relationships with people are entirely different. Would we put so much effort into communication without the ease of e-mail and Instant Messaging?

Which got me thinking about the other people I’ve met along the way. The cute, brown-eyed French guy, the handsome American who bought me a smoothie on my birthday in London, the married couple living in Germany (whom, according to my Facebook, are no longer married). Do they remember me?

Do we connect with people differently because we’re on the road? If we weren’t travellers, would we simply pass each other by?

Who has changed your travel life?

  • May 04 2010

    Folks that travel are just attracted to each other and usually have an instant connection. In 2005, I spent over 150 days on the road and met more people that year and it was wonderful!

    • May 05 2010

      So true, it’s an automatic connection, I think.

  • May 04 2010

    Wow. I think that’s kind of beautiful!

    • May 05 2010

      It really is, there’s something totally surreal about it…

  • May 04 2010

    I studied in Paris for a month the summer of 2007, and instantly clicked with a Norwegian girl who was studying there as well. It still shocks me to think that we were only in France for two weeks together, but remain friends to this day–I’ve visited her twice in London, and will probably visit her again sometime this year. I’ve also kept in touch with other people I’ve really hit it off while while traveling through Facebook, so I know I have a built-in tour guide for Australia and Spain!

    • May 05 2010

      That’s so cool! And those kind of super connections are rare. I mean, I’m still in contact with a lot of people I’ve met along the way, but only some that I put a lot of effort into seeing.

  • May 04 2010

    I do think we connect differently during travel because we are sharing an experience and are more open to strangers which doesn’t happen just walking down the street at home.

    • May 05 2010

      It’s cool how those strangers become people we want to meet…

  • May 04 2010

    What a beautiful story. Kind of an “It’s a Small World” moment…

    I do feel that traveling intensifies how we feel everything, all of our senses are in high gear. My relationships, feelings and experiences this year have been much more intense than any in previous years.

    Additionally, I met a German girl in Innsbruck last September and she has been inviting me to visit Berlin all year. I finally am going in 3 weeks — can’t wait. She hasn’t changed my life, but we’re friends. :)

    • May 05 2010

      Friends are definitely life-changing, even the “not-so-close” ones! Travelling does intensify everything, I guess because you’re forced to make use of your time more wisely…

  • May 04 2010

    there’s a few random people i’ve met along the way that I think about from time to time, and wonder if they remember me as well… From time to time I randomly run into some of them, and can never remember why they seem so familiar…
    It is a tiny little world, though :)

  • May 04 2010

    Aw, so sorry to hear about the woman you met. It’s so hard to find out these things have happened to people we meet briefly but that make such a strong impact.

    • May 05 2010

      Definitely, but I’m nearly certain she had a very rich life. :)

  • May 04 2010

    Great post Candice, that is so amazing that that happened!
    It truly is a small world. A few Aussie friends that I met in Europe in 2007 have definitely changed my life so much so that in the past 2 1/2 years I have traveled to Australia 4 times just to literally hang out with them. Had it not been for facebook I probably would of never spoken to them again! There are also many that I never exchanged contact info with that I continually think about so much so that I am always sure to grab peoples contact info whenever I can now. With iphones and everything that we have these days we can literally “friend” them right there on the spot instead of just exchanging info. It’s crazy how connected the world is these days.

    • May 05 2010

      Definitely!! Facebook is an amazing thing for that. I remember on my first trip, I told some dude to look me up on there and he laughed at me. Now it’s almost like a first instinct when you meet someone new.

  • May 04 2010

    Nice story, if a little sad.

    I certainly was an anti-facebook person before I started to travel but that website works as a fantastic tool for keeping in touch now, even people who I’ve not spoken with for a decade from school can get back in touch.

    Although it certainly spoils a bit of the magic. I walked past a guy outside a library in Brisbane a couple of months back, last time I was him he was swinging off a rope into the Mekong river in Laos and I was floating away down the river in a rubber tube. It was good to catch up despite us being friends on facebook since then.

    • May 05 2010

      Hahaha yeah, it really is. I feel like if it weren’t for FB and other social media, I wouldn’t know where half of my friends are anymore.

  • May 05 2010

    This is beautiful, Candice. It’s incredible the niece found you. It is crazy how small the internet has made the world.

    I just wrote a post 2 days ago called The Cost of the Internet, which is about what we may be losing because of our web-centric lives. This post reminded me of everything the internet has given me.

    • May 05 2010

      Ahh, such a good thing to see the silver lining every now and then. :) I read that post, loved it. There will always be pros and cons, I think.

  • May 05 2010

    Very cool that the niece found you. Kinda twisted how small the world is sometimes.

    • May 05 2010

      I know, I’ve connected and reconnected with so many people, it’s out of control.

  • May 05 2010

    I think keeping in touch has definitely changed. I traveled before the Internet was widespread and once you parted ways you rarely saw each other again but I’ve connected with more than a few people through Facebook when I realized we were in the same city.

    • May 05 2010

      I tend to restrict FB socialization to people I already know, although I don’t know why, because Twitter is not off-limits for me in that respect. But really cool that you’re connecting like that, it’s a great little push!

  • May 06 2010

    Wow, that brings a whole new meaning to ‘a small world!’ The Internet scares me sometimes when you can make connections like that, but it’s incredible as well! I think you definitely make more of an effort with people when you’re travelling. Just by being in the same place, foreign to both of you and so far away from where you started, you are sharing your experiences. And if you didn’t meet people, life on the road wouldn’t be half as much fun!

    • May 09 2010

      Totally! It’s definitely one of the most important parts of travel in my life.

  • May 07 2010

    How incredible that Madame Luberry’s niece found you! The world is so tiny because of the internet. Without this thing that hooks us all together so easily, you would never have found out she passed away. And it’s great to know you cared too, even eight whole years later.

    • May 09 2010

      Thanks Sabina, it was absolutely bizarre to find out about it. And it’s surprising how hard that hit even after all this time. Life is so precious.

  • May 08 2010

    Hi Candice, That is such a great story. I met an Australian guy while I was traveling and I always think about him and wondering what he’s doing. I only spent a day with him but I fell for him instantly. I also stayed with my friend’s Aunt in Greece for two weeks and she is the most positive person in the world and I learned so much from her about enjoying the little things in life. We still keep in touch too.

    • May 09 2010

      Ouch! I’ve never experienced love on the road, I imagine that’s a whole different kind of hurt. So many “what ifs.”

  • May 10 2010

    Beautiful post Candice and a solid reminder that we really need to offline-focus more on those loved ones around us. It’s amazing that her niece found you.

    There are so many people I’ve met while traveling and still think about.

    “Do we connect with people differently because we’re on the road? If we weren’t travellers, would we simply pass each other by? ”

    I believe so.

    Just yesterday, I was sitting at the airport in Cairo next to an American couple from Michigan. After asking me a few questions, somehow, my life seemed interesting to them. ” I ” seemed interesting at that moment, yet I knew we probably won’t have chatted longer had we been sitting at a small local airport in Michigan.

    • May 13 2010

      It was definitely a surreal experience, I couldn’t believe it. Don’t you love running into people like that? They always make the airport experience that much better.

  • May 14 2010

    I’ve met many people in my travels. I’m still friends with them on facebook too. As time goes on though, I interact with them less and less and it seems that I keep them around mostly as a reminder of my travel. I would hate to use the word souvenir, but that is kind of what having them as friends on facebook are like. I can then point to the cute girl I flirted with on the plane in Belize and show my friends what she looked like. Who knows, maybe she does the same things with her friends.

    • May 16 2010

      Hehe, I do that quite often. I always attempt communication of some form, but yeah, lifelong contact often seems unlikely.

  • May 21 2010

    I definitely think people connect differently on the road because you have a unique shared experience as common ground. Sometimes you meet people where your only connection is the experience and those friendships fizzle out even if you’re still “Facebook friends”. But I’ve met many long term friends abroad. I know it’s partly because I live in a city people want to visit, but I’ve had the opportunity to meet up again with several people I’ve met abroad! I know for sure that some of the people I’ve met on the road I would have never interacted with otherwise because of age or cultural differences, and they have become great life-enriching friends!

    • May 21 2010

      Definitely! Such a cool way to attract opposites. And it’s also very cool to be a sort of ambassador for your own city…I hope to do the same for St. John’s.

  • May 23 2010

    What a truly wonderful experience (although I’m so sorry to hear about the woman!). I love traveling and one of the best parts to me is all of the people who share a part of that journey, whether it’s the whole trip or just a moment. I went on a roadtrip with an acquaintance across the US last summer and spend 4 days in pdx at a hostel. i met a british girl there and even though we only hung out for the 2 days she was spending in portland, we keep in touch and are even thinking about trying to coordinate visits there again. It’s truly amazing who can touch our lives!

    • May 24 2010

      Agreed! So cool, it’s nice to know you can have friends all over the globe.

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