When you are travelling, at least they way I am, with couchsurfers, homestays, and hostels, you really do meet a lot of different people.
First, there are my hosts. Couchsurfers & Rotaractors, who I get to know either pretty well or certainly consider a new friend. In some cases, I may see them again, and probably will keep in some sort of contact at least through email or facebook. These are the people I will look up if I return or if they visit the US.
Then, there are others, that most likely, I won’t see again. For example, the two guys from Israel and the guy from LA at the hostel in Punta del Este. The guys from Israel had been travelling for some time, early 20s, and one had made a bunch of money on the stock market. With these guys, though, we did see each other again, at the Montevideo Bus terminal! Many stereotypical jokes were made about Americans and Israelis. I need too much space and am high maintenance, they have too much money, bla, bla, bla. The guy from LA, well, he was in his 40s, seemed rich, working from South America for about 10 months, and didn’t know a lick of Spanish, nice guy, but please, try a little harder sir. LA people….the nerve.
In Colonia, I went out to dinner with a girl from my room in the hostel from Canada. She had been in South America for a few weeks after taking a 3 month bus from England to Malaysia. It was pretty interesting hearing about going through all these countries in the middle East & Asia, including Iran and Pakistan, and how she had to get Visas for all of them. For Pakistan, the embassy in Canada, consisting of a single guy doing double duty at a law office or something, after first laughing when she asked for a tourist Visa, asked why the heck she actually wanted to go to Pakistan. In Pakistan, her group was guarded by armed civilians. She said the infrastructure she saw there really was as you’d imagine…in tatters.
Then in Buenos Aires, a cool guy from Columbia who lived in Jersey for 8 years was also staying at my Couchsurfers place; he was starting a semester at a University. Also, another girl from Columbia was also there who had taken a bus from Colombia to Buenos Aires and was just looking for work, who knows why. Then one day, a guy showed up from Switzerland, with perfect Spanish, who took 11 months to go from Colombia to Buenos Aires by bus and hitchhiking.
In Mendoza, two girls from France were couchsurfing at the same place as me, both studying in Argentina. In Colonia again, a guy from the Netherlands who said he just liked to go to Buenos Aires for a few months every year, just to get away.
So that’s just to name a few. I always have the same question of a lot of the people (except students): HOW the hell can you afford to do this, ESPECIALLY if you are staying in hostels the whole time? I know I saved my ass off and lived frugally for a year and my time is finite. But a few of these people really seem to be working of la plata de los padres. Grrrr…..
If I was travelling with friends, my experience would be much different. This is why I have decided that travelling solo is really the best experience you can get. In groups, couchsurfing is difficult, as well are homestays. But going solo, you can do what you want, when you want, and you still meet a ton of people. I am sure there will be many more people from many other countries before I am done.