I love the way I meet some really interesting people when I travel. My recent stay in Reykjavik was no exception. There were a few people staying in the youth hostel who, like myself, were there for a week or two over the Christmas and New Year period. This meant we could get to know each other quite well.
There was a South African guy who was so friendly he seemed to have got to know everyone in Reyjavik, not just the hostel. He was planning to hitch-hike round the ring road which pretty much follows the coast right the way round Iceland. I used public buses to do this in summer a couple of years ago and so know how desolate this road can be. In the middle of winter with short daylight hours and the most snow in a generation or two, it would be really isolated. Did this put him off? Of course not. With a backpack and an Icelandic woolly hat he set off. I never heard how he got on, but I don't doubt he will have been fine.
A twenty-something French woman was staying in Reykjavik whilst planning her next move. She'd lived on and off in Iceland over the past few years, always thinking it would be the last time, but always ending up back. Most recently she'd been working on a farm. She spoke Icelandic and had a learnt a lot about the culture. She was considering going to live somewhere remote in Scotland for a while as she hated busy places. Reykjavik was a busy place in her eyes. She was also extremely environmentally conscious and tried not to fly unless it was absoloutely necessary. I moan about the price of flights but it was surprising how much more expensive it is to travel by land and water.
There were also a couple of Canadian guys. One was also really into the environment and worked as a ranger in Canada. He'd heard of an Icelandic MP who was a keen environmentalist and had added her as a facebook friend. This being Iceland, she had a normal page rather than a 'like' page and accepted him. They'd chatted back and forth and he'd met her last year when he'd come to Iceland. They met up again this time. What other country would that happen in? He'd also got to go backstage at a Sigur Ros concert last time as he just happened to meet them too.
The other Canadian worked as a gardener during the summer months and spent the winters travelling. He'd already been to a few places this winter and was planning on visiting his father in Central America after Iceland.
These are just a few of the people I met, but they all had really interesting stories to tell. Meeting people like this always inspires me to think about what's really important in life and not to get bogged down in the nitty gritty of everyday life and work. Easier said than done of course, once I'm back at work and have so many demands on my time. But I'll keep thinking about the interesting people I meet and hopefully this will motivate me not to get stuck back in a rut.