One Christmas we joined a tour group of eighty travelers for a five-day river cruise in Germany. We met so many interesting people. My husband Dave told me it was my job to pick our table companions at each meal in the ship’s dining room. I was often torn between sitting with some fascinating person we had already met, or venturing off to meet someone new.
One day we sat with a homemaker and her husband who was a highway inspector from Perth Australia. For the last twenty years they have spent many of their weekends prospecting. They head out to likely spots in the desert with two other couples, who ‘are just like family’, and use metal detectors to look for gold. One of the men is the chef, preparing all their meals. They sleep in ‘swags’ – waterproof bedrolls under the stars and spend their days prospecting. They share their ‘finds’ equally. Last year they unearthed a total of ninety ounces of gold. They use their treasure hunt spoils for travel.
We lunched one day with a woman on crutches. She fell off her horse on a canyon ride just prior to our trip. She has a sporting goods business in California, selling items trail riders might need. She loves to travel and often conducts her business from on the road. She has been to one hundred and two different countries.
One meal companion was a man who belongs to a fraternity of photographers dedicated to taking pictures of abandoned buildings across the United States and publishing them. Another was a retired police officer recently returned from Antarctica, thus checking off the last unexplored continent on his travel list.
A Pittsburgh waitress, was in Germany with her husband and children to explore the land of her birth. She had never returned since immigrating to the United States as a child.
Margaret Laurence, the Canadian novelist once said, “There are no ordinary people.” Every time I travel and strike up new acquaintances, I discover just how right Ms. Laurence was.