The Friends We Make

I have been getting over a bit of writer’s block lately. Plenty of thoughts, but just not connected. In the midst of that, a title came to me and after a lot of searching for inspiration, I think I am ready to tackle this piece.

Deb and I just returned from some long awaited travel. We started the winter with a two week stay on Kauai and Maui in the Hawaiian Islands, returned home for a quick two week catchup, and then went down to Cancun for one more week. Hopefully you are not judging me for my irresponsible galivanting, but we had saved up for this and Covid-19 had left us longing to start traveling again. Regardless, we took both trips looking forward to the memories we would make. And we made memories.

These two trips, in some ways similar, had marked differences. Hawaii was activity driven. With my faithful travel master friends, Larry and Annette along for the journey, we never lacked purpose on any of the days. There were waterfalls to hike into, zip lines to tackle, whales to watch, and fish to snorkel among. Every day had a hike planned for at least part of it. Cancun, on the other hand, was meant for soaking up sun, walking the beach, and eating at a different restaurant every day (we were in an all inclusive so why wouldn’t we). Where our purpose in Hawaii was exploring and, as it turned out, exercise, Cancun was about down time.

We met random people throughout our stay in Hawaii, but they were usually “one and done” as we moved on and so did they. Cancun was different. As it was an all inclusive resort, it was like being held in this exotic, beautiful, prison. There was no need to venture outside of the walls and the food and the guards were incredible. The offshoot of this kind of vacation is that all the guests are traveling in the same circles. We were all there together and seeing a couple multiple times a day was the norm and offered the chance to make new friends, which we did. Though there were multiple couples, Chris and Sammy, Kristy and Chuck, not Paul (inside joke), half the state of Nebraska, and a very friendly group from Green Bay, Wisconsin, there were two couples who deserve a shout out.

Marcello and Julianna from Sao Paulo, Brazil were there to do a recommitment of their marriage vows on the occasion of their fifteenth wedding anniversary. We met them one of our first nights. They had come into one of the lounges and Julianna’s beautiful wedding dress caught our eye. Something told us they were looking for company. They had, like us, made the trip alone. As we started a conversation, we discovered that Marcello was able to speak some English but Julianna could only speak her native tongue, Portuguese. After spending some time apologizing to each other for not being able to adequately speak each other’s language, it was decided that we could fill in most of the gaps and we would not let it get in the way of what instantly felt like a friendship in the making. By weeks end, I was improving my very limited Spanish, and Marcello, his English. We had spent hours learning about each other and forming a friendship that just might, with the help of Facebook, last beyond our week in Cancun.

On night two of our stay, we sat across from a couple playing cards and talking with each other. As is the way with me, my incessant belief that people want to join in a conversation, I asked what game they were playing. That is all it took. By the end of the evening, we were making plans for breakfast the next morning. Erin and Alex, as it turned out, were from St Louis, a city we visit often and, by the end of the week, a city we now had a new reason to visit.

In our every day lives, we pass by so many Marcello and Julianna’s, so many Erin and Alex’s, but we never get to meet. When we travel, it seems so much easier to take the risk and start that conversation. In the case of Marcello and Julianna, we had to overcome the language barrier, but I will tell you that the challenge made the friendship all the sweeter. With Erin and Alex, the conversation was easier, but we still had to take the risk and put ourselves in play. In both cases, we formed a friendship that just might last long after the vacation ended. That is, of course, if both sides make the effort to keep the conversation going.

We are home now and the world is back to passing us by on the street, but what if we just once in a while mustered up the courage to talk to that person across the aisle or at the next table over. Who knows whether or not that is a friendship waiting to be formed. Don’t be afraid to take the chance. After all, can we ever really have too many friends?

One comment

  1. Gloria Hildebrandt · 14 Days Ago

    U 2 r a Amazing couple God has Blessed u both .

    Liked by 1 person

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