Why don’t we spend more time with our neighbours?
Why don’t we spend more time with our neighbours?April
When Stew and I left our home we had to go back to do one final house check, (much to my frustration) in response to the estate agents. As I was cleaning up I realised I hadn’t brought a broom! Desperate, I knocked the door of the neighbour I’d never seen or spoken to in 18 months and she was happy to oblige! We ended up talking at her door for 10-15 minutes and I was left feeling a little frustrated at myself for the lost opportunity. Why did I never reach out to connect with this lovely lady before?
Stew and I have relied heavily on people throughout this trip. We trust that people will help us with the language barrier, we trust our AirBnB hosts are kind and helpful and when we use warmshowers we trust we are entering the homes of good people.
It’s always a bit awkward to start, especially in a foreign country but as the night goes on you learn how you can make communication easier by speaking slower or using certain / simpler words. Over the course of a dinner you can learn a lot about each other.
Our hosts from 2 nights ago, Genevieve and Francois are pictured. They were adorable. A couple who were clearly in love. They went on their first bike tour on a tandem in 1971! They tried tandem cycling a second time, but decided they prefer to ride separate bikes. Each year they take a proper cycling tour and they ride for 4 months! They always camp, rarely use warmshowers, but they love to host!
Francois spoke English very well, and Genevieve did well! We all had a giggle when she occasionally flipped to German. Francois would laugh “J’adore!” he would say as he gave her a squeeze. Apparently Genevieve will speak her best English when she is in German and her best German when she is with English people!
We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Genevieve and Francois. We had dinner and breakfast with them. We got on well.
We left their home with some great camping food tips! They recommended we carry: 3 x tuna in olive oil, spaghetti, tomatoes. This can be cooked up and any vegetables can be cooked in the oil from the tuna. This is genius! We ate exactly that tonight and loved it; we are ready to camp now!
The point that I need to get back to is that you can have a really good evening with people you don’t know, regardless of age, background, even language!
The traveller mindset is a nice one, the traveller believes that people are good and the traveller listens to the stories of others for inspiration.
Unlike the non-traveller, the traveller only has the opportunity to build a relationship that lasts, for the most part, a short time. At home we can start building long lasting relationships with many different people.
There’s a page on Facebook called Humans of New York (HONY) and it has over 18million likes. The page is based purely on sharing stories of strangers. For 18million people to like it, it’s obviously special. There is obviously something endearing about the lives of others. I love it and would encourage you to follow it, but better than that I would encourage you to source the stories of those around you.
When I go home I will invite my neighbours for dinner, and spend more time sitting with people and learning about them, much like I have done in the past few weeks. I have found that night one is great, a little awkward to start, but great nonetheless. Night two is better and if you stay two or more nights you will start to feel more emotionally connected. When I leave a place I’ve stayed in for more than one night I have a little pang of sadness when I set off. What I am trying to say is that to form a real connection, it takes a little time and a little effort.
This lifestyle and mindset doesn’t have to be exclusive to the traveller only.
Imagine what we could share together if we stopped having neighbours on our terms.