Sunday, 13 February 2011

A Familar Face

Travelling alone is my preferred way to go: you tend to meet more people doing likewise, and speak to locals more if you're not in a group. Having said that, sometimes you crave the company of a friend. I spent time on the road in Asia with Jocky and The Colonel, and more in South America with Garfield and Speckled Jim. An ideal period of travel involves a bit of both, I think. While working as a dive guide in the Philippines in 2010, my mate Grumpy from the Hackney BSAC branch had come out to work and travel with me for a while. We had a ball. And it was nice to have Dil and Helen, a couple of close friends from London, come visit me out there. Their visit was all to brief; the nice thing for me was that I made the effort to do the more "touristy" things I wouldn't normally do in between diving work. We made a tour of the island on scooters, memorable for Dil's not-too-serious crash. We climbed the biggest hill on the island in the midday sun; it almost killed us, but the view was worth it. And a night out ended with a dash down the wooden walkway to our hut out on the waters of the bay, Dil forced to hang his arse out over the water, as Helen couldn't open the front door quick enough for him: something he'd eaten hadn't agreed with him at all. As far as I am aware, a pair of his soiled Calvin Kleins are still floating around Busuanga island somewhere.

A mate of mine I hadn't seen in seven years, Darren, had recently added another mate on Facebook. I said Hello. The last I'd heard of him, he was living in Barcelona. It turned out that he was now living in Berlin, after a year of study in Santiago de Chile. Never one to sit still too long, is Darren. When he learned I was planning 9-18 months in Central America and beyond, he said he'd be interesting in visiting me at some point. I sent him a very loose itinerary and details of my return flight to Cancun. Next thing I know, he's calling me on Skype and booking the same outward flight as we were catching up. Random, but that's Darren, too: no half-measures. As we were going to be spending five weeks on the road together, I went to visit him in Berlin before Xmas. Would have been a bit too random to just meet up at Gatwick after seven years? As it was, a very drunken (as always) weekend was had, and it was like we'd not seen each other for seven days, rather than years. That was lucky, eh?

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