Over the years, I’ve fumbled through airport security, maneuvered my way to the back of planes (damn those first-class people), and miraculously navigated public transportation while encountering people along the way that I’ll always remember. Traveling has expanded my social circle, has instructed me on how to break a language barrier, and has taught me the important life lesson that it’s ok, maybe even necessary, to step out of your comfort zone. So, it seems only right that I give a shout-out to the people I’ll most likely never see again, but who still hold a special place among my other travel memories.
1. The guy on the plane who looked exactly like Borat
I was 11 years old and flying to New York City for the first time with my mother, aunt, and grandmother. We boarded the plane and settled in. I remember marveling at the fact that the plane had individual t.v. screens for each passenger. All of a sudden, I looked across the aisle to where my grandmother was sitting, and my eyes widened. There was Borat. The man, sporting the same curly dark hair and thick mustache, sat stone-faced in his seat, occasionally glancing our way as we talked across the aisle. I whipped my camera out and took a picture of him. Speaking of that photo, I need to go on a hunt to find out where it could be. It’s unfortunately not on my computer.
2. The couple I met at Iberostar resort in Mexico
A few days after last Christmas, my family and relatives headed to Iberostar resort near Cancun, Mexico. I was 18 and of legal age to drink at this all-inclusive resort. So I found myself every day laying out by the beach and the pool, often meandering over to the poolside bar. The stools at the bar were underwater, so all you had to do was swim over. I would spend a good amount of time talking to the bartenders in Spanish. Then one day, a man and his pregnant wife came over and sat on the stools next to me. He spoke little English, she only Spanish. Here was my opportunity to put my education to the test. I talked to them in Spanish the whole time. At the end of the trip when I was back in the States and able to access the network, I had a Facebook friend request from the couple. Now, I get to see pictures of their adorable daughter who seems to get bigger with every picture that appears on my news feed.
3. The man who bear-hug/attacked me on the streets of New York City
My cousins and I traveled to New York City this past May for a Paramore concert at Hammerstein Ballroom. On our last day in the city, we stored our luggage at a place not too far from Times Square. Looking around, we could tell it wasn’t the greatest part of the city to be in, but it wasn’t the worst either. This wasn’t my first time in the city; I was prepared for the various upcoming encounters by people I passed on the street. But in no way was I prepared for this specific encounter. As I was leading us back to the hustle and excitement of Time Square, a man who I’m assuming was homeless ambled toward me mumbling incoherencies. I figured he would just cut through our path but instead, he extended his arms and bear-hugged me as he continued to talk in words I couldn’t make out. I was so taken aback that I grabbed onto my purse and shoved him off, not straying from our path but definitely increasing our pace. I would like to thank my cousins for their non-existent help in fending off the bear-hugger that day.
4. The sweet Italian waitress at an English pub
While we were eating lunch at a pub in England, our waitress asked if we were from America because of our accents. We proceeded to tell her we were from New York, and her eyes lit up as she proclaimed, “That is my dream!”
My mother then asked her where she was from, and she answered saying she was from Italy hoping to make enough money to one day move to New York. My mother’s own dream is to travel to Italy, so she became equally as excited as the waitress.
“You can stay with us when you come to New York,” my mother said.
The waitress thanked her sweetly, and that was the end of the conversation. She seemed to be only a few years older than me. I’ll always wonder if she ever made it to New York.
5. The drunk woman in an elevator at a Florida resort
On a family spring break vacation, my brother, best friend, and I pressed the button for the resort elevator as we came
in from an evening out. The doors opened to reveal an early-thirty-something woman bent over laughing wearing only a bikini and cover-up. She could barely stand upright, swaying back and forth as she said, “I don’t even know what floor I’m on!”
We just laughed along with her, unsure if we should help her find her floor. She then said, “Oh my God, my husband’s gonna kill me! I’m sooo drunk. But don’t worry. I’ll make it up to him with the great sex later.”
My brother’s eyes widened, and my friend and I just laughed. She then added, “Don’t tell your parents I said that.”
We reached the fourth floor where we were getting off, and the doors opened.
“Oh my God, that’s my room!” she yelled in slurred speech.
She stumbled off the elevator and walked toward her supposed room. We didn’t stick around to see if this actually was her room or even her correct floor for that matter. I wonder how her night turned out. It still takes the prize for the most entertaining elevator ride I’ve ever had.
I can only hope to meet people from different parts of the world that I’ll never forget, no matter how brief of an interaction we have.