This year I asked the heavens above to bring more kindhearted, funny and like minded people into my life. As I have ventured through new spaces and to new places, surprisingly I have met some of the most sincere and down to earth folk. This was especially true during my trip to and throughout Sri Lanka. I met people from ALL over the world: Israel, Canada, Hong Kong, Germany, Egypt, Sri Lanka and Turkey.
When you travel solo there seem to be endless opportunities to meet people. This trip I couldn’t believe how sharing time and space with complete strangers would lead to fruitful conversations, tears, storytelling and uncontrollable belly hurt laughter. I laughed, cried, and exchanged stories/photos with people I only knew for minutes or hours.
It is during these times that I make an effort to linger and marinate in the moment. There is no better way to practice mindfulness! It’s a weird feeling, because our minds are trained to think ahead or to reflect on the past. But when I am in the moment, soaking it all in, it’s as if time stops. I realize where I am and linger a minute longer in the laughter and sit back and really listen to the storytelling; realizing this moment will never happen again. I enjoy it, soak it up and marinate in it. As soon as I stepped foot out of the Istanbul airport I was living in the moment and knew this was going to be a trip like no other. The most spectacular part of the trip was not the food and culture, it was the people I met with every stop.
Kindred Spirits – Turkey
I booked a tour via Viator for my 10 hour layover in Istanbul (en-route to Sri Lanka). My tour guide was a brilliant historian who also has a love for wellness and holistic health; we connected on the later. Over coffee and during walks through the city we talked about LIFE, holistic healing, travel, and Turkish history. She quickly learned that I love to shop and even made up a cute little song to sing along as I stopped at every Turkish towel shop! There are no coincidences in life. There are some people you only spend a few hours with, but know that life will bring you together for more coffee, laughs and whatever else our souls need. We will connect again, The question is which country?!
Island Junkies – Maldives/Sri Lanka
What do you do when you are stranded on an island, besides pull out the swimsuit? Meet new friends, hit the beach and explore the city; which is exactly what happened. My flight to Sri Lanka was cut short by a day when the plane broke down on what was supposed to be a two hour layover in Male. Unexpectedly, I found a too much fun travel buddy. We made the most out of our 24 hour layover; I think we were the only brave souls to venture out into the city before our flight took off the next day. I was thankful for her companionship, hilariousness and willingness to go with my crazy adventure attempts! What was even more spectacular was that since she was from Sri Lanka I was able to get some travel tips after we both arrived in Sri Lanka. Since I helped her with her luggage she agreed to help me if for some reason I ended up in a shady situation. That was a fare exchange! I have a feeling we will share chocolate and mangoes again soon.
Jungle Strangers – Sri Lanka
After a hike through the jungle and the best nap in a year I met three hilarious travelers who had me laughing non stop for three hours! We connected and bonded over our stay at the Ella Jungle Resort. Even though the hotel name had jungle in the title, for some reason we were shocked that we had to hike through a jungle and cross a swinging bridge in order to get to our rooms. We laughed and exchanged stories about the trek down to the resort. There were only 6 people staying at the resort that night and the four of us ate dinner together and lingered afterwards to story-tell. Our rooms didn’t have internet and to my surprise we spent little time on our phones and more time engaged in conversations. Again, lingering in the moment and thankful for meeting cool people. The next day, following more laughs during breakfast we parted ways, however we stayed connected and checked on each other throughout our journey in Sri Lanka and all the way back to our home countries. I am thankful for the jungle strangers and the laughs we shared. The detox dinner in the jungle with the jungle strangers will remain one of the most memorable nights of my trip.
Om and Yogis- Sri Lanka
When you stay at an Ayurveda resort there is no guarantee that you will connect with other guests; as we are all there to disconnect, recharge and/or heal. However, I met a beautiful soul whom I connected with during a 6am yoga class. As I was trying to teach her the Ujjayi breath, she fondly said, ” I am so happy I met you.” Post yoga and during our beach walk she shared stories of her mother’s battle with cancer that I will carry with me as I support my mom with her cancer diagnosis. When I left the resort she had me in tears as she kindly reminded me to “let things go.” She invited me to visit her in Israel and sent me off with a little bag of treats for my long flight home (I ate them all two hours later). I am so thankful for sharing time and space with this spectacular human being and again know it was not by coincidence. It would be rude not to accept the offer to visit Israel! So, I’ll be visiting Israel in the not so distant future!.
I am thankful for sharing time, space and opportunities to eat mangoes, sip coconuts, drink tea, eat Turkish delights, share ujjayi breaths and of course belly laugh with all these amazing people. This is why I enjoy traveling solo. I boarded the plane in Atlanta as a solo traveler, but at no point in the journey was I alone. Thank you all for more moments and lifelong memories!