Seven stories from the road

I like to call them word portraits, but ‘seven short stories’ sounds more poetic, more alliterative. When you travel, you don’t have too long to get to know people. On the other hand, travel also makes it easier for you to share your stories with each other. Something about the anonymity perhaps. These were some of the most interesting people we met, and the best stories we’ve heard. It would’ve been strange to take photographs, but we will remember them for a long time because we learned so much about life through conversations had in one chance meeting, or over one cup of tea.

Story gathering from around the world

Story gathering from around the world

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A soft-spoken Irishman with gentle blue eyes with his free-spirited, wavy-haired wife, both in their 50s, both travel buffs. She spent days camping on the streets with protesters in the cold during the Occupy Wall Street movement. The Irishman: “I didn’t agree with some of the methods of the protesters when they got rowdy, so I stayed home.” The protester: “But he showed his support by building me a small wooden shelter, just big enough to keep me warm at night. And by bailing me out every time I and my fellow protesters got arrested!”

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A couple and their two friends, all retired after working hard all their lives and putting their dreams on hold. They made sure their kids were set up, and debts paid, and then spent their savings on turning those dreams into realities. The four friends: “We bought the best motorbikes we could find, loaded them into massive camper vans, and now spend six months of every year travelling around their country. And it’s the best thing we ever did.”

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A German sculptor, late 40s, with his statuesque blond girlfriend and a fully equipped SUV. He loves the outdoors; she is camping for the first time, to try ‘his kind of holiday.’ The artist: “I tried working an office job, but my true calling is my art, so I quit and am focussing on this. It’s hard sometimes, but it’s better to do something you love for the short time you are alive.” His girlfriend: “I worry about the money sometimes, because even his materials are expensive, but we manage. And we’re happy, which is all that matters.”

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A couple in their 40s, with their very shy Lab, Rosie. The couple is travelling to celebrate the wife’s recovery from cancer. They laugh and talk to us, but Rosie will only wag her tail, but will not come close enough to be petted. The man: “Her last owner abused her. When we adopted her, she wouldn’t come near us for months. Then my wife was diagnosed with stomach cancer, and the treatment made her very weak. And that’s when Rosie started sitting next to my wife, with her head on her lap, forcing her to laugh and pet her and walk with her. And my wife is better now. So we rescued Rosie, and she rescued us.”

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A big burly guy with a handlebar moustache, wearing a death metal tee with sleeves cut off to reveal massive, tattooed biceps, travelling with a lady who didn’t speak at all. He said: “That’s my sister. She’s lesbian, but we only found out when her relationship with someone got serious. It was really hard for her to come out to us, but then soon after that, the person she was in love with broke up with her. And she’s been depressed ever since. I didn’t know what to do because I’m not so good with emotions. So I just packed her stuff up one day and took her on the road with me to get her mind off things. She’s getting better now.”

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A young, shy, bespectacled girl, who managed a gas station in the middle of Yosemite National Park. We spoke to her about the huge forest fires that had torn through the park weeks before we got there. She said: “It was terrible; there were burning trees and black smoke everywhere. I was about to go on a holiday to meet my mother but I was called back to keep the gas station open for the fire and rescue helicopters. But there were big handsome firemen in here every day, sweating and taking off their fire jackets and needing food and Gatorade. So I didn’t really mind not meeting my mother.”

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The sweet old New York couple who hooted and fist-pumped when they saw our New York number plate in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We explained to them we were just travellers and not really from their home state. For the entire twenty minutes that we chatted with them, she had her hand nestled in the crook of his arm, and he patted it softly. He said: “We came to the Blue Ridge Mountains for our honeymoon, some fifty years ago and fell in love with it. She told me she wanted to live here, but we had to go back and work in New York. So after we retired, I bought a house here and now we live just over that ridge right there.” 

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Which was your favourite story? Seven more coming up next week.

8 thoughts on “Seven stories from the road

  1. Short n nice….you can see it as you read it…its real fun to meet strangers at times they leave a lasting impression…nice to see you enjoying every bit of your journey…butwhysixmonths….may be a tad bit more can do 🙂

  2. Loved each and every one of them!! Gives such an interesting insight into people’s lives around the world…

  3. Love the stories. I got a real feel
    For the people in such a short time. Well done. Technical question: did you tape their comments, scurry off to write them down quickly, or do you have a really good memory?

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