Should you ever wander beyond your normal paths and chart your way to some unknown destination, you are bound to meet interesting people. My trip to Slovenia is no exception. Many people come to mind.
I think of the man in the Admiral’s Club lounge. An older gentleman with a gray beard sits reading in the quite room. I offer him my unused drink card. “Maybe you can use this,” I say. He smiles and says thank you.
I think of the girl chatting with two other travelers while we wait at the gate to the flight. Eyes shine with excitement. She is on the way to study language for a semester in Madrid. Off on an adventure is never a bad place to be.
I think of the Italian businessman I sit next to on the flight to Madrid. Crisp, direct, no messing around is his style. Mostly serious too, he spends much of the flight working away on his laptop. From a brief glance at the articles and papers he is reading, I have no desire to ever become a business executive – way too much boring business speak for me.
He seems important. Or maybe that was just the aura he presents to the world. But I do catch him smile a few times.
I think of the lady on the flight to Budapest. After taking my seat, I pull out my book, Dancing in the Glory of Monsters, an account of the war in Congo. It’s a good read, and it better be considering it weighs a pound and a half. The woman asks me about it. I give my recommendation. She’s headed there for work in a few months.
Turns out she works for the UN. Three days of meetings await her in Budapest. Amidst the tiredness – and who isn’t tired after a day of traveling – we exchange stories and memories and joys. We sit awestruck at the beauty of the Alps. We try to figure out where we are based on the view from the window. And we both take a nap at some point or other.
I think of the three ladies from Spain that sit in front of us on the way to Budapest. Out to see the town – they are. How much they will remember, who knows. They may be older, but they sure pack away the wine. I guess they’ll have lots of pictures. They take about one hundred of them as we land.
I think of the stocky fellow at passport control in Budapest. He looks up from his magazine.
“Do you have anything to declare?”
“No cigarettes or alcohol?”
“Let me see your bag.”
I open one zipper and show him the clothes within.
“OK fine,” he says, returning to his magazine.
“Thank you,” I say.
I think of the kind woman at the counter of the airport shuttle service. She offers a look of genuine sympathy at my error. I missed the shuttle I was supposed to take. No worries though. She puts me on the next one.
I think of the gentleman at the hotel in Budapest. Sharply dressed and professional, he checks me in. A smile frequents his lips throughout the conversation. I thank him and go to my room.
I think of the two cleaning ladies that show me to the iron. Full of laughter, they exchange jokes. Not knowing how to speak Hungarian, I can’t understand too much, but I smile and nod anyways.
When we get to the closet, a mouse scurries out. One lady jumps back. The other calmly pulls off her shoe and proceeds to whack it. Into a plastic bag the dead mouse goes.
One of them turns on the iron, shows me how to use it, and watches me as I iron my pants and shirt. It is strange to have someone watch you use an iron, especially someone you don’t know. But life is full of surprises when you’re out on an adventure. I finish ironing and thank her. She smiles and carries on joking with her friend.
I think of my taxi driver from Zagreb to Castle Mokrice. His stories of culture and advice on beautiful places to visit make the short ride fly by faster. He even gives me a few jokes about Slovenia. Upon arrival, I am not annoyed to have to pay the fare.
So many people. So many stories. So many beautiful stories. I’m honored to be a part, however small, of all of them.
A place where the people travel. I made this photo in Budapest, Hungary.