so, friends. i made it. to ecuador. i haven’t seen a whole lot yet since we just got here last night after almost an entire day of traveling, but the old town is absolutely beautiful by night, and i am sure even more so by day.
so where have i been so far? physically, i spent about a week in cali, in the south of colombia. it was a great mix of city life and some nature/outdoorsy stuff- but i gotta tell you… my mind is pulling me towards the beach! remember when i said i wanted christmas on the beach? well i probably won’t make it until about a week after new years. not a problem though, because new years will be spent here in quito with these travelin’ fools.
after that the plan is to head into the amazon for a few days to go practice swinging from vines and avoiding piranhas.. and then THE BEACH. seriously though, that has to come next.
so as i predicted, although i am technically traveling ‘alone,’ i have spent little time actually by myself, and literally zero time feeling lonely. it got me thinking about how we connect with people and how we, as adults, make new friends. after college it gets significantly more difficult to make new friends, and it seems like the ones that we are able to find tend to come from mutual connections or work.
when we travel though, all of the friend-making protocol seems to fly out the window. at home, would it be weird to meet someone and then half an hour later decide to go on a weekend trip or a 12 hour bus ride with them? hell yeah it would. traveling? not so much. since everyones lives are in somewhat of a state of flux during travel, all the small talk is just a waste of time. a typical conversation basically just goes straight to “where are you from, where did you just come from and where are you going next?” if those answers suffice, you speak a common language, and they include a smile or two, that person is now your friend.
so now, i present you with the travelers guide to making friends:
1. smile- duh. if you don’t do that one naturally, no one probably likes you anyways. exceptions are made for people with dengue fever, people who just got mugged, and people who just finished taking a shot of aguardiente.
2. speak english- i kind of feel weird adding this one, but the truth is that english is often the common language between travelers and locals.
3. stay in hostels, preferably ones with a common area and dorms. statistically speaking, the more people you are surrounded by, the higher your chances are of becoming friends with them. hostels are hands-down the best way i have found to meet other like-minded travelers.
4. share- whether it is your plans for the day, a beer, or some shampoo- share with other travelers. there is no way to earn a place in someones heart (or instagram feed) like offering to share something. if you are looking to create a connection with other travelers, talk to them about what they hold most dear to their hearts- their experiences. heading into the amazon on friday, i would never have had any idea which lodge to pick if i didn’t talk to other travelers about their experiences. yeah, i could just read lonely planet, but thats nowhere near as fun.
i am sure there are many other ways to make friends, such as just giving people money, hypnotizing them, or holding their families hostage, but these tips are probably easier, less expensive and less illegal.