Friday, August 6, 2010

The People You Meet

There is something really cool about the people you encounter in the course of traveling. I'm sure there are hundreds of cool people right here in Calgary that I haven't met, but there is just something about the people you meet when you are miles and miles from the familiar. Maybe it's because you are away from home on an adventure so everything seems a little cooler, or maybe it's because the people you meet while traveling are other humans that you would have never met if you were only in your place of residence; your paths crossed because of the travels you were on. Whatever the case may be, it's something to be thankful for. On my recent trip to Maui, I was fortunate enough to meet some really cool people and I wanted to share my experiences with you.

Part of me thinks that when you are traveling on your own you tend to meet more people. I'm not sure if that can be proven, and I may be totally off base but it just makes sense to me. When you are with friends or family when you are traveling the globe, you have people around to interact with and to keep you busy and to take your attention. You don't have time or even the thought to seek conversations with strangers because you have people you know around you for that. However, when you are spending a week by yourself, you're going to be more likely to strike up conversations with strangers because the thought of talking to yourself for a week straight only seems like a good idea intermittently.  So, with the hopes of saving myself from myself, I met some interesting people while in Maui, here are their stories:


My first morning in Maui, I ventured away from the hostel I had stayed in and headed to this local diner called "The Tasty Crust." I read about the most amazing banana macademia pancakes that they had so I had to check the place out. Unfortunately, when I got there and made my order I was informed they no longer had the famed flapjacks. No worries, banana flapjacks with strawberries would be just fine. As I was finishing up my pancakes and my delicious cup of coffee and leafing through a golf magazine trying to plot out my upcoming golf ventures, a little old lady came to my table and sat down. See, the restaurant was mostly made up of these long tables you would expect to see in the dining hall of your local summer kids camp so when they start to fill up, you may find yourself eating with people you didn't come with. So, down sat Pastora right across from me. This sweet lady then proceeded to tell me her life story, how she was descended from ancient Samurai warriors, and how she was so sad that her kids and grandkids lived on the mainland and she rarely got to see them. Eventually we exchanged names and she almost burst into tears when I said my name was Brad Dickinson because when she was a little girl she had a pen pal from New Jersey whose name was John Dickinson.  In those 20 minutes she opened her life to me and by the time I left she had me take down her phone number so I could call her if I needed anything during my week on Maui. I never took her up on the offer but I was definitely touched by her sweet, genuine spirit.

Cole & Kay

Since I was in paradise while my beloved Phoenix Suns were in the NBA semi-finals against the hated Lakers, I needed to find a spot to watch the games. I stumbled on a gem of a place, the Kahului Alehouse. Lots of screens to watch the games, friendly staff, free wifi, and pretty good food. First time I went to watch a game I noticed some passionate Suns fans sitting in the booth behind me. During a break in the action I turned to them and struck up a conversation. Turns out they are from Phoenix and were in Maui for the week for a wedding. They also were flying home that night so they stopped for supper at the Alehouse so they could watch the game. During the rest of the game we chatted back and forth and once it was over we talked for about 15 minutes discussing our different homelands, and what kind of things we had done in Maui. We exchanged e-mails and have kept in touch since. Someday I will finally get to visit Phoenix and Cole and his wife will be there to show me around. And if they ever make it to Canada as they hope to, I will return the favour.

Dave & Dawn

On my second to last day in paradise I decided to hike Haleakala. One of these days that might have it's own blog entry since it was such a great experience, but not today. However, that day I was fortunate enough to meet Dave and Dawn from New Jersey. The particular hike I wanted to attempt was one where you had to park part way up to the peak, hitch hike to the type and then hike a loop that would end you up back where you parked your car hours earlier. The second car I tried to flag down was Dave and Dawn's. They were happy to take me to the top, partly because the hike that I was trying to accomplish was what they had originally intended to do but were dissuaded by the park rangers at the bottom of Haleakala. We chatted the rest of the way up then took in some of the sites together from the top. I came to find out that after they left Maui they were headed to Yellowstone National park for some more hiking and camping. I took their email address and told them I would send them a note about my experiences on the hike so they had some more ideas and info for the next time they were in Maui.

So there are three small, simple examples of regular strangers crossing paths somewhere along the way and adding a little something to each other's lives. Nothing earth-shattering or ground-breaking, just normal people taking the chance to meet new people and make new friends. Take the copportunity to meet someone new and strike up a conversation, you never know what you or them will gain from the encounter.