This goes to the friends I made hiking up the Cliffs of Moher. Together we slipped through barbed wire and past confused cows, laughing as our feet got caked in mud. Together we shared stories, confessions and past regrets, secrets that usually wouldn’t be shared with strangers, and together we got cleansed by the wild winds and ocean air. It was standing atop one of those cliffs that I fell in love with travel, a pivotal moment when my life focus shifted. Without your support, that may not have happened. Whenever my mind flashed back to these memories, I remember all of your smiling faces.
This goes to all the friends I made living in Prague, the ones who stood by my side through tears and laughter, the ones I still hold close to my heart and can’t live without. By throwing ourselves into the unknown together and sticking together through every crazy obstacle that city threw our way, we forged a bond that will never be broken. You are some of the most special people in the world, and I think of you every day.
This goes to my Vilcabamba crew in Peru. Chance brought us together, but we chose to make it amazing. Long hikes and long nights brought us to the level of familiarity usually reserved for lifelong friends, and my heart nearly split in two when we all went our separate ways. I didn’t realise a four-day friendship could affect me so deeply, but it did. I’m glad.
This goes to my temporary family in Baños (a city in central Ecuador). We bought all our food and drinks together, spending hours in the kitchen making guacamole and capariñas. We celebrated carnaval (Brazilian style carnival) together and created some insane memories. Every morning I woke up with a smile, because I knew that we were in for a good time. I met you all when I was feeling quite lonely, so thanks for washing those feelings away with your welcoming attitudes and eagerness for life.
This goes to the man on my campground in Palenque, with whom I spent hours in the jungle discussing spirituality and plants. I don’t think you realized how entranced I was by your words, how they’d be bouncing around my head for the rest of my trip. For you that may have been a casual conversation, but you changed the way I see the world, and I’ll never get the chance to properly thank you.
This goes to everyone who’s ever joined me for drinks, a train ride or a day at the beach. This goes to everyone who’s offered me a seat at their table, a ride in their car or a couch in their home. This goes to people I’ve known for a day, a week, a month, a year, who for whatever reason left an imprint on my heart. This goes to the people I still keep close contact with, the ones who get an email once every few months as well as the ones whose names I don’t remember. This goes to all the friends who will let me crash on their couch in the future, or who will come crash on mine. This goes to the people I’ll never see again.
I’m writing to thank you.
I want to thank you for the good times, for the laughs and heartfelt talks. I want to thank you for sharing some of my greatest memories, and for making them infinitely better. None of those trips would have been the same without you.
Thank you for helping me face various challenges on the road, and for being a stand-in family when I needed someone to talk to. Being away from your loved ones is always a challenge, but having you by my side made it a lot less painful. Thanks for understanding that tough times are easier with someone to lean on.
Thank you for allowing me to be my best self, the one who comes out when I travel. Thanks for instantly accepting me, for believing I could be awesome before we even spoke. Thank you for turning a first impression into a lasting connection.
Thank you for the words that inspired me, the new ideas you gave me, the worlds you opened up. You’ve made me a far more open-minded person. Our conversations have taught me more than years of formal education ever could.
I want you to know, I won’t forget you.
Though I hope our paths do cross, and I hope we keep in touch, I know that life sometimes gets in the way and that’s okay. No matter what happens, I value the time we had together. I remember what you’ve taught me, and how happy you made me feel. That’s why I’m writing to you now, maybe years later—to let you know that you’ve changed my life in the best way possible.
So thanks… so very much. I love you.