If you’ve ever travelled alone, you might know what I mean when I call it the most affirming thing I’ve ever done. Some of my happiest memories are of traveling with Jon (and now Sebastian), but there is something special about not knowing anyone when you arrive in a new place.
Back in 2006, I spent 10 days trekking in the rainforests of Brazil and in 2012, I went to Nepal and Tibet for three weeks. In comparison with the gap year experiences of many, they were small and unadventurous trips, but I learnt more about myself in those weeks than I think I ever have in the safety of home and company.
When I saw Bjorn’s photo for the Friday Fictioneers, it reminded me of one of the farms we stayed at in Brazil. Far from anywhere, our hosts heated their water by running pipes past the fire, so showers were an exercise in scalding and freezing by turns. There was no electricity, so we ate by candle and torchlight, having arrived at dusk, then we went outside and sat around talking into the night. This is the story of that night.
Our hosts knew better than to stay up past sunset, and retired as soon as we were fed, but we were used to bulbs and switches; night was a novelty. Bottoms accustomed to furniture settled onto the ground and eyes that had never known darkness marveled at the stars. Friendships, days old but forged by miles, glowed in the chill air.
A week later, we would walk through the markets of Copacabana and play tourists on the Sugar Loaf cable cars, but Brazil for me will always be Don McLean and a starry night in a farm with no name.
One of the safer-looking bridges we crossed!