The Adventures of a Part Time Professional Gypsy (and her ginormous teddy thing)

Friday, November 3, 2017

Anywhere for a Hug

"Make sure you come visit if you're ever in [insert random name of strange town you will likely never visit]"
-Anyone who has ever traveled is familiar with this phrase. 
It has become something of a generic salutation, the "politically correct" open-ended goodbye that is expected among gypsies.

On the road we are all strangers. 
In new environments. 
We are open to trying things we would never contemplate at home. 
We walk with the freedom of boxless living. 
We go out of our way to meet and mingle with people our parents probably wouldn't approve of.

You have some crazy experiences with your "bestie" of the week/day/hour and then you hug each other goodbye and continue in different directions likely never to connect again.

But what happens if you do?
What happens if you go out of your way to [insert random name of strange town you will likely never visit] just to see the strange human you once had a random experience with?

I did it.
I went [almost] EVERYWHERE FOR A HUG:

I flew to WORCESTER PARK (Well actually I flew to London but then I headed through)

A little nervous and unsure about land travel after so many years as a sea gypsy,
I was rather glad to arrive in Europe to these smiling faces:

Megan was privileged enough to know me since primary school.
In 2008 we moved to London together.
She never left.

Being awe struck by the fine monuments in and around London.
Being awe struck by God at church

Jarred (pronounced "Jay-raid") was my baby  baby brother's friend.
I liked him, I stole him.

Hardcore and fearless.
 Playing mini golf.
(Johannesburg, 2008)
Still hardcore.
Still fearless.
Not playing mini golf.

I trained to BALHAM (London) to see Sarah. 
Vietnam, 2012.
The first day we met. 
April 2017
Now happily married, living in an actual house, and with a real job.

I took a bus to BIRMINGHAM to see Fliss and Will
Australia 2014
Shortly after this picture was taken we stranded ourselves on a sand dune and had to be rescued.
May 2017.
Shortly before they decided to get engaged.

I walked to CAMDEN to see George
Easter 2008
We worked with Children and chlorine,
the chemicals inside the unidentified blue liquid were comparatively good for us

Today she's a happily married, legendary mum!

I hitched  to KRUISHOUTEM (Belgium) to see Ilse and Miguel
Laos 2009 after a heated game of patong had the cops arrive to break up the fight.
They'd just met.
Now they're married with kids and a robot vacuum cleaner and lawn mower.

I hitch hiked on to PRAGUE to see Helena
Malaysia 2012
Exploring the land 
Exploring the sea (after a shipwreck and having to swim for our lives)

June 2017
Helena's wedding day.

I continued to hitch hike through Poland and Lithuania and Latvia before taking a ferry to SWEDEN to see Karl-Oskar
Marquesas, 2014
Finally finding land (and fresh baguettes) after fifty long days being stuck at sea.

Midsummer 2017
Karl's life is no longer quite as "hairy" as it used to be.

My first introduction to Inger was a skype call to tell her her son was in hospital...
I'm glad meeting her in person was not with a machete, but a hug! 

In GAVLE I caught up with Marlin who I'd briefly met at some bucket bar in Cambodia, 2009.
Today she's still a very interesting awesome woman!
But I think she now prefers tea.

In STOCKHOLM I tracked down Johan (who we simply used to call "Sweden")
We did some jungle bashing through Cambodia in 2009
I randomly bumped into him again in Austrlai in 2011 and inherited Karla,
the camper van of awesomeness.

And this year I was lucky to catch him and his beautiful wife just before kid number three popped out.

I bought a bicycle and cycled to FREDERICKSBERG (Denmark) to see Mia
The Philipines, 2012
She helped me medicate a broken foot with beer.

Today she's a real doctor and even more of a legend (and phenomenal tour guide) than I remembered!

I kept peddling through to HAMBURG to see Ole
Malaysia 2016
Ole was busy cycle touring Asia when I met him in a strange surfing town.

Having done plenty of cycling himself, he knew exactly how to welcome a biker to his home!

And then I finally arrived in THE NETHERLANDS, my fatherland,
and cycled to PATRESWOLDE to see Joy.
South Africa 1985.
Yes, that's me on her back.
She's still as friendly today.
But I didn't let her carry me.

I temporarily abandoned the bicycle and sailed to England 
and hitched to STRATFORD UPON AVON to catch up with the wild woman I had temporarily brushed wakes with in the Solomon Islands (2015), Sharna.

These pictures speak for themselves!

I continued moving by the power of thumb through to SWINDON to see Emily
Australia 2011.
Em introduced me to both the world of outdoor instructing and chicken farming.

I still can't believe that she now has a real grown up job and lives in a house!
(and still likes chickens)

A ferry across to France and a hitch through to BLONVILLE-SUR-MER had me reunite with Damien
Fiji, 2015

I think I might have been lost in France without him

I continued the hitch to PARIS to meet up with Rohan.
Hanoi (Vietnam) 2012.
He convinced me to buy a [Chinese] bicycle and cycle with him to Thailand...
I don't know why I thought it was a good idea.
But I'm glad I did it!

I'm not sure he thought it was such a good idea when we ended up stranded under a fruit stand with a flat tyre in Laos.
He hasn't changed much.

And still has the best taste in accommodation!

I crossed into Germany and headed to STUTTGART to find Marc, "The Wizard"
I'd last seen him in Pai (Thailand), 2010

Marc was even more interesting than I'd remembered him being.

In ROTTENBERG I found Miki
In 2015 we sailed from New Zealand to Fiji

Today she is still as happy and positive and awesome as ever!

After hitch hiking to Liechtenstein for a beer,
I hopped on a bus through to PARIS to meet Mylene for lunch.
In 2011 we camper vanned Australia together

Now she's somewhat settled and employed.
But just as beautiful and awesome as ever!

I hopped back on a bus and took the chunnel to LONDON because the little guy on the right was turning thirty...

I am proud to say that I taught Brendon everything he knows.

and while I can't take credit for all of Chloe's life;
for this I can:

When I first met her, 2012

And still just as classy today!

I took the subway through to CLAPHAM to meet Kirst
Roommates in Chaingmai, Thailand (2012)

I don't think either of us have changed much!

I returned to the Netherlands and met up with Luc and Pluto in BLIJ-BURG.

 He was even more happy and awesome than he had been in Saint Lucia (Caribbean) back in 2014.

In GRONINGEN I reunited with Jarco and Folkert who I had met on a plane back in 2013.

I pedaled across the afsluitdijk and headed to HUIS TE HEIDE to see Jairo
Panama, 2013
We helped each other take boats across the Panama canal
Today he's a family man!

I cycled to LEIDEN to see Laurence.
I met him in Borneo while I was waiting to board my first sailing boat.
He still a smiling legend!

In LAGE ZWALUWE I caught up with Jean Michel
I met him in Panama in 2013.
In New Zealand, 2014.
And again in South Africa, 2017.

After completing his circumnavigation, he has temporarily ditched the boat, and found some land (and really cool glasses)

In BREDA I found Hugo
One of many random nights out in Chiangmai

A not quite as random night out in the Netherlands.
Apart from his hair, he really hasn't changed.

In DORDRECHT there was Jenny
South Africa (1987)
She's exactly 17 days older than me.
And clearly far more responsible.

She's still 17 days older than me.
And still far more responsible.

And then I finally made it to ROTTERDAM to see Daisy and Jenna
Daisy is family.
Even if he was not born a Gerding.

Daisy was my flatmate in 2013

I left the country for ten minutes and Daisy found Jenna.
I don't even know how, but he convinced her to marry him.
They now have their own house.
Unfortunately they also have a cat.
Nut I love them anyway.

People are awesome.
It doesn't matter if they are travelling, or at home.
I may have spent five months running crazy rings around Europe,
but of all the people I forced hugs upon; even those I'd only known for only an hour (or a day, or a week), every single one was a delight!
(And don't even get me started on all the exceptional people I met on the way to these legends...)

I totally recommend it.

(Apologies to all the people I skipped. Next time I will plan better [maybe] and I will not let winter defeat me quite as easily [maybe]. But I will be back!!)


  1. How many smiles did you generate being your awesome self???

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