I quite often go through my old photos. My thoughts as I look down on them are pretty fairly spaced between ‘what in the world was I trying to photograph here?’ to ‘yup, that place was pretty fantastic’. One sentiment that never changes, however, is the smile that appears on my face when I see pictures of people I befriended along the way. It's amazing how simply looking down at a picture of someone you met so long ago can bring back such memories not only of them, but the things that you did together. Travel has a wonderful way of bringing together like-minded people, and connecting them in a way that they might not have the chance to do in everyday life. Although many of these friendships don't last much longer than the days travelled together, the memories and bond created seems to last a lifetime.
As I skip through my photos I come across a shot I took of part of a Gecko's Adventures group I travelled with from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro. If you look at the faces of the people, and the obvious connection between one and the other, you would think that they had been friends forever. As was the case, the group had only just come together four days earlier. Someone once told me that relationships grow while travelling as if they were on steroids. It's true, travel has a way of forcing people, and the relationships they create while travelling, to grow at an accelerated pace. On the road we endure things together, we accomplish things together and we grow not only individually, but as a group or a couple. Essentially, it is these moments, whether travelling or not, that form the unbreakable bond of friendship.
I remember my first major trip abroad; I headed to Central America without much of a clue about anything at all. I made some very close friends on that trip, we went through hardships, we had victories, and we grew as people. We didn't yet have Facebook or Twitter, and the only way to communicate was via email. I will be honest in saying that most of the friendships I gained on that trip began to fade as the years have gone on. Emails went from being weeks apart, to months apart to the point that they simply became a part of the mass Christmas emails. However, whenever I look back on those pictures, I feel like if we ever crossed paths again we would pick up right where we left off without a moment's hesitation.
As the years pass and we look back on the places we've been, the sites we've seen, and the photos we've taken, they all seem to blend together. When we look at the photos we no longer view the places we have seen and think ‘there's Machu Picchu’ and ‘this is the Taj Mahal’, when we look back at the photos of these destinations we tell stories about the experiences we had at those places. We laugh about the misadventures we had, we joke about how naive and different we used to be, and most of all we smile at the thought of the people we met. No one can take away the things you've done while you travel and they surely can't take away the friendships you've created along the way, and that is truly the most beautiful thing about travel.
About the Author
Brendan van Son is a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. You can read about his adventures by visiting his webpage Brendan's Adventures: The World is my Jungle Gym or by checking back here next week where he'll have another ‘Note from the Road’.
Please share your stories of friendship from the road in our comments section below.