I travel a lot, and will probably spend the rest of my life doing so, barring some lovely woman saddling me down with children and whatnot. During most of December of this year, I spent a good deal of time in airports, visiting as many as three a day. On December 5, I had a rather strange, but remarkably pleasant event occur.
I had just left Naples, Italy, after a week-long vacation visiting my good friend, Paolo. The trip was bittersweet for me, as, though I love the city of Naples, it has a rather painful history for me as well. I wasn’t in the best of moods when I went from Naples to Munich, knowing that I would have to wait seven hours to fly to Bulgaria and then spend 16 hours waiting for yet another flight, this time to London, on the way back to the United States to visit my family before moving back to Europe again early next year. Though I had eaten well, had a wonderful sendoff thanks to Paolo’s family, and was excited to go home, the nagging emotional pains didn’t quite go away.
About three hours into my trip, I saw a man walking around with what looked like a skullcap worn by Sinti gypsies. After taking a good glance, I noticed that the man’s cap had Orthodox Christian crosses on it in a style that reminded me of Georgian Orthodox patterns. The man asked if he minded if he took a nap, and I said, “No.” He rested for a few minutes, and he must have noticed my flightiness because he started chatting with me. As it turns out, the man was from Georgia, and was working in Italy as a boat operator.
With my interest piqued, he introduced himself as Sergo. We ended up talking about everything from Orthodoxy to Hamlet Gonashvili, perhaps the finest singer to ever come out of that country. This is one of the few times I will toot my own horn, as I take pride in being able to share the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years easily with fellow travelers!
When all was said and done, we said our goodbyes, and I was left with the feeling that I had made a friend for life (at least by Sergo’s words).
Meeting new people while traveling is a wonderful thing.