Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Where Are They Now?

The great thing about solo travel is it's easy to meet a lot of different people on similar journeys. The plus side is if you don't get along, you never have to see that person ever again. I guess the downside is losing touch with a person you made a great connection with, as is what happened to me.

In November 2008, I was stressed out with life. I had recovered from my third miscarriage and was told I only had a one in four chance of having a child. I was caring for my father, who was then dying from Parkinson's disease. I also recently left a stressful job I hated. I didn't know what else to do but run away from it all and get a different perspective, so I booked myself a solo trip to London and Morocco.

At 4am, I was the first to arrive at the departure lounge at Luton airport for a Ryanair flight to Marrakesh. I was on my mobile phone chatting with my husband when an older gentleman walked in, put his bag down at the front of the line and sat down on seats somewhere else. I found this odd and I found him odd. Everyone else lined up, though I didn't bother because I already knew how Ryanair boarding works and there's really no point; I don't care what seat I get. The Odd Man walked up to his bag on the floor and into the front of the line. I thought nothing else of it at that point.

Our flight got diverted to Agadir because of fog and we all got stuck on to buses back to Marrakesh. I checked into my hostel that night and went to sleep. When I got up for breakfast that morning, who else was at the table but the Odd Man! He was loudly talking about his travel plans - he wanted to head to the desert - so did I, but I wasn't about to share a car with a loud, obnoxious American. That was my first impression of him and I ignored him. I decided I wasn't going to head to the desert then and instead boarded a bus for Essaouira that afternoon.

On the bus back from Essaouira to Marrakesh, I texted my hubby to help find me some accommodation ahead of time because I was arriving at night and hadn't booked anything. From Canada, he booked me into a lovely riad deep in the souq of Djemaa el-Fnaa. I finally found it late that night and went straight to bed. The next day I was sick - something I ate, I suppose - and didn't leave my room until late afternoon. The night after that, upon returning from supper, I walked into the riad and was met by a familiar face - the Odd Man. I made a joke and accused him of following me. He said, "no, you must be following me!" and we started talking.

We talked late into the wee hours of the morning. I was freezing (we were in the court yard of the riad), but he was captivating. I told him of my father and my stresses and he helped me put things into perspective. If I hadn't had to pack and get ready for my early flight that morning, I'm sure we'd still be there talking! I left him my card with my info, but he never contacted me and I never saw him again.

They say people come into your life for "a reason, a season or a lifetime," and I presume he just came into mine for a reason, but I'd like to tell him I'm alright now. My dad has since passed on and I've had the child I've always wanted. Everything is less stressful now and for some reason I feel compelled to tell him he has made a difference to me.

That's where you come in! All I know is he is a retired architecture professor named Christopher Pardee. He is American, but lives in England. He's divorced, he has grown children and he spends his free time travelling. If you see him, please tell him he helped me a lot. Or maybe share this blog post with him. I don't expect to hear from him, but if you let me know you spoke to him, I will be happy. He probably won't even remember me, but that's ok. It's the thought that counts :)

And if you ever meet a really cool person, make sure you also get their contact info.
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