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Read To Travel

To The Kind, Friendly Souls I Met While Traveling For Five Months

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Over the last five months, I met some pretty beautiful people.  There is something about traveling alone that allows me let me guard down.  I am able to be more open about my innermost thoughts to complete strangers, bringing me closer to them than many friends whom I have known for years.  It amazes me how much you can get to know a person after ten minutes of talking.  It amazes me how deep a conversation can get with someone I have just met randomly.  It amazes me how connected I feel to people from different paths of life who are nearly strangers to me and yet, not strange because we shared something, even if it was only for five minutes.  To the wonderful people whose paths crossed my own, I write this to you.

Dear John,

Your smiling face put a smile on my face.  We spent so many mornings at work discussing life.  I was figuring out how to made the perfect Bloody Mary while you made the business look beautiful with flowers.  You introduced me to various members of your family and described me with such pride and respect, almost like a daughter.  Thank you for wonderful conversation and for your genuine interest in my life and dreams.

Dear Jenny,

Thank you for inviting me to the market with you on my first morning in Hawai’i.  Your positivity is infectious.  I liked how your goal for every meal was to give half of your food to a homeless person outside.  I felt how deeply affected you were by the sad, clear poverty in the streets that is so unlike what you know at home.  Because of you I get to use my new knowledge of Swiss German in every day conversation.  We are pineapple soulmates.

Dear Tony,

You welcomed me into your home and your hotel for two unforgettable nights of good company, conversation, and food.  Your confidence in my dream of being a successful travel writer serves as daily inspiration that I can do this.  You told me, “if any woman can do this, you can,” and I will.  Thank you.

Dear owner of SuBe Sushi,

I sincerely enjoyed discussing food, business, and life with you.  I liked hearing about your shift from the tech world into a life of running a business and doing what you wanted to be doing.  Your compliments on my work ethic made me smile and your melon cocktail gave me warm and fuzzies.  Thank you for giving me complimentary mochi cream just so that I could try it for the first time.

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Dear Jess,

We had never met before, but you invited me to stay in your home upon my arrival in New Zealand.  Without your tips I would have been utterly and completely lost in figuring out a bank account, phone plan, and where to live.  You introduced me to your love of Waiheke Island and hung around as I fell in love too.  Thank you for exposing me to beetroot hummus and letting me share your bed when living room parties went past my bedtime.

Dear Chris,

Between my friends and myself, we had five bags and plenty of uncertainty as to how to get from North Shore back to Waikiki.  You saw us with luggage in hand and confused looks standing on the sidewalk.  You drove us from one side of Oahu to the other through traffic for over an hour so that we could get to the Memorial Day Lantern Festival.  When we realized the festival was much further from our hostel than we thought, you insisted on bringing us to the hostel, waiting while we checked into our rooms, and driving us back across the city to the event.  You refused any monetary compensation.  I can’t believe people like you actually exist.  Thank you so much.

Dear Honolulu International Airport security guards,

You saw me wandering around in a cloud of confusion with too much luggage.  Thank you for being worried and walking from across the room to see if I needed any help.  I did.  Your jokes put a smile on my face.

Dear Christian,

Your passion for things you care about excited me.  Your ability to have a political discussion with tolerance and understanding rather than judgmental hostility allowed me to thoughtfully analyze some of the aspects of my country for the first time in my life.  You made me want to be the generous person that you think that I am and to be the best possible version of myself.  Thank you for putting the first six episodes of Game of Thrones season 6 onto my laptop.

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Dear Society Hotel employee,

It never ceases to amaze me how generous strangers can be.  You offered me several great suggestions on how I should spend my final day in Portland.  Without you I never would have known of Mississippi Avenue.  You insisted on carrying my silly broken suitcase out to the lobby for me despite the fact that you were in the middle of cleaning and you even offered to search for a spare suitcase to replace mine.  Thank you.

Dear Cath,

There are handfuls of moments in my life when I recognize that I’ve stumbled across a likeminded person and a beautiful soul.  Meeting you is something I will describe to family and friends for years to come.  You inspired me to carry kindness everywhere with me and embrace the positive parts of each situation life throws my way.  Thank you for creating a delicious dinner for me comprised solely of local New Zealand goodies, for welcoming me into your home, for giving me a warm bed, for celebrating Irish girl power and for endless belly-aching laughs.

Dear Vancouver pizza place bartender,

The level of excitement I reach when I meet well-read humans is out of this world.  I knew we would get along from the moment you asked me what my walk-in song was after I took off my headphones.  Because of you I will tackle the Malazan series and American Gods.  It was so refreshing to discuss Game of Thrones and Stephen King and working in hospitality and Quentin Tarantino and Star Wars with a cool person.  Thank you so much for the complimentary beer and good conversation.

Dear Eric,

Actually I can’t remember if that’s your name.  Since you hail from Nashville, I told you about the different country artists I like.  You proceeded to call one of them and tell him about me because you know him from college.  Mind blown.  Thank you for the funky soda drink that I was surprised to see outside of Amsterdam, for recommending a visit to EMP Museum, for eating pizza with me even though you weren’t hungry, for discussing life and laughing at my 3rd grader tendencies.

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Dear Emily,

You were incredibly friendly to me on my first day living on Waiheke Island.  Thank you so much for inviting me along to the gym with you and for not laughing at me when I threw up after the work out.

Dear Thomas,

I woke up one morning, moved out of my home and went to work for the day with no idea where I would be sleeping that night or any night thereafter.  You saved me.  I miss your wonderful smile and I love how much you love cocktails.  Thank you for making me spicy seafood noodle soup at any time of the night, getting me a discount on fish and chips, and being a fabulous housemate.

Dear Anna,

Though we worked at the same place, it took us over a month to realize we needed to be best friends.  You will forever take the cake for best laugh in the entire world.  I mean, you can hear that thing all the way over in Onetangi.  Thank you for taking me around on your scooter while I pretended to be an eagle, accepting my surprise shots of tequila even though we vowed not to have more than one beer, spontaneously meeting me in the middle of my road trip, and just overall being the most wonderful best friend ever.

Dear Burrell Road neighbor,

After a late night of imbibing, I arrived home at 9:30 am, exhausted.  After a half hour, I decided to double check that I was due into work at 2 pm.  I wasn’t.  I was scheduled to be at work at 10 am.  Sprinting out the door half-dressed, I rushed by your driveway.  Thank you for pulling over and offering to drive me to work. Just THANK YOU.

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Dear Florian,

You helped me appreciate wine white in the summertime, a drink I previously refused to have.  You acted as my island tour guide and drove me to places I would not have been able to see otherwise.  You made me feel proud to embrace my uniqueness and my inexplicable tendency to spill everything.  Thank you for not punching me as I spoke in cliches about your country and as I threatened to dress as a Bavarian milkmaid with beer and milk buckets when your parents visited from Germany.

Dear Ashley,

You are the sweetest, most wonderful Canadian I have ever met, and generally Canadians are some of the kindest people out there.  Thank you for lounging on the couch with me, eating endless snacks, and encouraging me to be social and seize the day when all I wanted to do was be an eternal slug.  Also, thank you for helping and hugging me when I thought I had no friends and would be homeless sleeping on the beach.

Dear E, 

You made me mochaccinos 2-3 times a week for two months.  You were genuinely concerned that I didn’t enjoy my coffee that one time I didn’t finish it.  You inspired me to move to a foreign country in which English is not the first language spoken.  Thank you for giving me the Solar staff wifi password since the customer wifi was terrible.

Dear girl at the brewery,

I went to Seattle’s Pike Brewery to relax and try new beer.  After getting into conversation about my chicken wings, you invited me to drink with your entire family who was in Chicago for a wedding.  Thank you for the beer and the invite to the wedding afterparty.

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Dear Ellie,

I love listening to your beautifully British voice talk about absolutely anything.  You always welcomed me to join in anything you were doing and I truly appreciated your friendly inclusiveness. Thank you for reminding me of the importance of true friendship and not to let others’ actions affect my definition of self worth.

Dear Rob,

Thank you for giving me a job.  You told me I wasn’t “terrible at pool,” which I still pretend is not a backhanded compliment.  I aspire to be as hard a worker as you and to live each day with as much generosity and selflessness as you do.  Also, thank you for buying me a beer after I got kicked out of the bar for not having my passport.

 

These messages are not all encompassing of my feelings or thoughts for each of these individuals.  This list merely begins to touch the surface of only some of the wonderful humans I came to meet while away from home.  To write about every single kind soul I met would be an endless, unfinished post forever sitting in my drafts.  Some of these people inspired me with their vibrant personalities, some touched me with their kindness, and some just intrigued me with their individuality.  Some walked into my life for five minutes, five days, or five months.  Some I will never meet again for I don’t even know their names and some I will hopefully reconnect with before the end of this calendar year.  I hope that some of you remember me half as fondly as I remember you.

Tara Higgins

Tara Higgins

Tara loves all things London and wants to spend the rest of her life reading books in beautiful places. She can often be found nestled up in a bookshop, drinking a pint at the pub, or searching for the best pizza slice in town.

6 Comments

  • Aditi Parashar

    Such heartfelt anecdotes!
    Love the flair.
    Xx
    Erubescentecstasy.com

    July 12, 2016 at 3:35 PM
  • Irina

    Wow, travelling for 5 months. You must have a very fulfilling life. Travelling opens mind and soul.

    July 12, 2016 at 3:51 PM
    • Tara Higgins
      Tara Higgins

      Thank you Irina! I definitely try to live my life to the fullest.

      July 16, 2016 at 10:09 AM
  • branded girls

    good to see your experience

    July 13, 2016 at 1:25 AM
  • eunsol

    reading your story made me smile all the way through! it’s beautifully written.
    i love so many aspects of travelling and what it does in my life.

    December 26, 2016 at 5:58 AM
    • Tara Higgins
      Tara Higgins

      Knowing it made you smile makes me smile.

      December 26, 2016 at 6:22 PM

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