Just like the rest of my travel “plans”, I impulsively booked a flight to Aruba.
I knew it was a trip that I needed to make the best out of because my stay was going to be short—only four days.
Other travelers reassured me that four days would be more than enough. Aruba is quite small: only nineteen miles long and five miles wide.
Whenever I visit a new place, I post a public trip on Couchsurfing in the hopes of offering to show me around.
This technique rarely works because it’s a public post, and I am not directly reaching out to a specific couchsurfer in their inbox.
Thankfully, this time around another couchsurfer named Emma reached out to me and offered to give me a tour of the Island.
When I travel, I love getting lost, exploring, and figuring things out on my own.
Being in a foreign land and not knowing where to go or what to do is both scary and exciting to me. It’s scary because it forces me to get out of my comfort zone., and exciting because I know I have nothing else to do but to explore.
It’s a great feeling when I stumble upon a beautiful place or view that I know I wouldn’t otherwise find if I wasn’t lost.
I was thrilled knowing I would have Emma to guide me. Since that first message, we’ve had a nonstop dialogue between the two of us.
I love the vibes I was getting every time I would talk to Emma. Though strangers, we were able to connect with a very amiable way.
As time passes by, I feel closer to her. I watched our friendship grow into one of the best things that has happened to me in a while.
We finally met when I visited Aruba. Emma was exactly how I pictured her to be—kind, caring, respectful, full of life, happy, and generous. Emma has a busy schedule, but she never missed a beat whenever it was time for her to pick me up and drive me around.
I remember my last night on the island. I was with Emma and her daughter Amy. We went out to have dinner, only to find that the place we wanted to go only accepted cash. I went to draw money, the ATM stopped working and took my card. I later found out that happened because of an ATM alert protection from my bank back home.
I was worried because that it was the only card I had. I had NO cash whatsoever.
On the bright side, it was my last night in Aruba. I could only imagine how interestingly different my stay would have been!
After dropping me off, Emma lent me $20—enough to pay for my taxi back to the airport and some change. Thirty minutes later, I got a text from Emma saying she was outside.
To my grand surprise, she handed me a bag full of fruits and a bottle of water.
“You have a long day tomorrow,” she said and smiled at me.
I got so moved and almost teared up. People who are genuinely nice and caring are far few and between.
I truly admire Emma for being genuine.
We laughed our hearts out, made good memories, and talked about everything and nothing. It didn’t feel like she was someone I just met for the first time, but rather like a long lost sister.
Despite being strangers mere months earlier, we were having some of the best of our lives as if it had always been that way.
Just like love, friendship transcends culture, diversity, sexual orientation, gender and et cetera.
Finding and building meaningful friendships can be a daunting task, especially when people tend to be superficial. Traveling has helped me find a few human connections which were deeper. I now connect better with others and I also become more attentive to their needs.
Emma was just another reminder as to why I love traveling—not all strangers are dangerous—and that makes the world a beautiful place.