In addition to my post, A Chilean Act of Kindness, I wrote another story during the travel writing workshop with Pink Pangea. As I mentioned before, the workshop was a great way for me to meet writers from around the world and learn how to improve my travel writing. During the workshop, we were asked to write about an airport experience. I was amazed to hear other traveler’s airport experiences. In particular, I was fascinated by one traveler’s story, who described airports as an emotional melting pot. When you look around at the people at an airport, some travelers are filled with excitement to go on their next journey; others are filled with sadness as they kiss their loved ones goodbye; others are anxious to get through security; others are stressed preparing for their business meeting; others are mesmerized by their significant other as they go on their honeymoon; and others are relaxed as they are about to go on a beach vacation with family. Airports truly have meaning to people, and it is interesting to think about this (especially for frequent travelers) who often get lost in the hustle and bustle of travel and forget about the significance of going to an airport. Below I am sharing the story I wrote about one of my favorite airport experiences, demonstrating that airports are meeting places:
My first experiencing traveling alone in an international airport was one that I will never forget. I was flying from Paris to Pisa to Florence at the Charles De Gaulle Airport. Most people around me were speaking French (and I am only an English and Spanish speaker), but I was comforted when I noticed a woman sitting next to me who was carrying a British passport. I started chatting with her about her travels. Her name was Amy and she told me she was a graduate student at a fashion school in Florence (Pollimoda Firenze). She was originally from Turks & Caicos and was traveling to Paris for a vacation.
We had such a great conversation throughout the flight that we decided we would try to get together while in Florence. We exchanged e-mail addresses and were testing fate because this was before the days that I had a smart phone and I was betting whether my hostel in Florence would have internet access for me to reach out to her. Fate wanted us to get together again, because I was able to get in touch with her after arriving to Florence.
This was my first time traveling alone, so I was excited to have a new friend who could join me in my tour of Florence. I met Amy for drinks and appetizers- I’ll never forget the delicious grasshopper drink I had for the first time in a quaint plaza near where she lived. We walked throughout the city and she told me stories and historical facts about Florence (I was so grateful that she had a professional camera to take photographs!). It was also interesting to learn what it was like being an international graduate student in Florence. Then she (bravely) gave me a tour of her apartment and neighborhood. Similar to my Chilean Act of Kindness story, we might have both been crazy in this situation since we were technically strangers to each other, but again, we trusted our guts (some sort of traveler trust that I have observed more and more as I have gone on more trips) and knew we could explore the city together. I remember being fascinated by her fashion projects throughout her apartment and knew that she was going to make a name for herself in the fashion industry one day.
Not only did we have a wonderful time together in Florence, we kept in touch via Facebook. She moved to New York City for an internship the following year, which coincided with internship interviews I had in New York. After interviewing, I met up with her for cupcakes to catch up on life since Italy. What makes the world even smaller is that she shared an apartment in New York City with the older sister of one of my high school classmates. Now, we continue to keep in touch via Facebook and she is successfully launching a luxury resort scarf business, sea sage, while living and working in London.
This story reminds me that airports can seem overwhelming, but they provide an exciting way for us to meet new people who may turn into lifelong contacts and friends. Every time I travel, I find that the people I meet at the airport and during my flights provide some of the most interesting conversations. So, while you are at the airport asking yourself “are we there yet?” and are concerned about having enough elbow room on the airplane, maybe you should pause, look around you, and spark conversations with your fellow travelers. We all have stories to tell, and we can learn so much from each other. Airports are and alway will be great meeting places.