One of the many rewards of traveling for an extended period of time are the small world encounters. With over 6 billion people on the planet, it’s a wonder that any random encounter 3000 miles from home could result in a shared connection. But miraculously, it happens, and it’s not that uncommon. Our two most striking small world encounters:
We’re on the last day of our Northern Circuit Safari in Tanzania at Lake Manyara National Park, in a rare moment outside the Land Rover, standing at the hippo pool. Another Land Rover pulls up, and a couple hops out and comes to stand next to us. An exchange of greetings identifies that we’re both from the US, and after a couple “where are you from” rounds, we come to find that we’ve grown up in cities within 50 miles of each other. We keep digging deeper, learning that they went to the same high school of many of our college friends, so for the hell of it, we throw out a few names of people we know from their high school:
Sarah: Do you know Katie Waller?
Katie C: I love Katie Waller!!
Sarah: No, I love Katie Waller!! Wait, who are you?
Katie C: Jim and Katie Constantine
Ted: As in, the brother of Lori Constantine?
Katie C: Yes!!
Wow, small world. Standing in front of us is the younger brother of one of our best friend’s best friend. At the hippo pool in Tanzania.
Our next encounter happened here in Udaipur, on one of the fabulous rooftops overlooking the lake. I’m looking over at this couple sitting a few tables away, trying to place why they look familiar. And then it comes to me. I walk over to them, and ask if they are from Barcelona (the one fact I remembered from our previous encounter). Yup it’s them, only 1/2 a world away. We first Montserrat and Aleix back in Bolivia, 6 months earlier on our salt flat tour. It was a short encounter, but they stuck out to me because they were Spaniards who looked like they were Swedish. 2 months after the Bolivia meet, we saw them again in Torres del Paine National Park in southern Chile. This 2nd encounter was already pretty crazy, but within South America, it’s not unheard of to see people who are on the same general path. But 4 months after Chile, we had chosen different directions around the globe (us to Africa, them to Australia and New Zealand), we find each other sitting on the same rooftop in Udaipur, India. That is a crazy small world.