It was March 2 of 2015. More than two months had passed since I left my job to adventure around Asia, and I had just finished touring Nepal, a country I instantly fell in love with, and where I spent some weeks exploring the Himalayas. I was now in India. It seemed like an entirely different world. Its noisy streets, chaotic crowds and striking colours overwhelmed my senses. Every single detail, sound and smell of this exotic country was a new, unanticipated experience.
On that 2nd of March, in India’s south-western state of Karnataka, a sweeping sun was shinning in the holy city of Hampi. I had been exploring the place for several days, wandering around its ancient temples and ruins and getting a taste of its food. As it goes with many that have travelled through the area, I knew Hampi was going to have a special place in my heart. But I didn’t yet know the extent of it.
On that 2nd of March, in a hostel surrounded by rice fields in Virupapur Gaddi, I met Casey, a Canadian. He was shy, but full of opinions; quiet, but with a lot to say; and serious, but always with a smile. We didn’t talk much that day. Maybe it was because the place was full of impatient travellers trying to make new friends, or because we did not know what say. Whatever the reason, it did not stop us from exploring Hampi together the following day. We drove along winding dirt roads to Lake Sanapura, where we swam with other travellers and some locals. We climbed the 550 steps that lead up to the Monkey Temple where tourists, devotees and hundreds of playful monkeys hang out together. We also visited artisan shops in Anegundi, chatted with locals by the Tungabhadra river and watched the sunset from Hannuman temple. Without planning it, our day turned out to be an incredible adventure. That night, Casey and I said goodbye, and we continued our journeys in different directions.
Casey embarked on a 3-month journey through India, followed by a trek in the Annapurna region of Nepal. His trip came to a premature end after an 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the country, destroying hundreds of villages and killing thousands of Nepalis. It wasn’t the earthquake that got him, but his travel insurance company insisted that he be evacuated, and they sent him all the way back to Canada. Meanwhile, I continued my journey across Asia. Over the next 5 months I traveled through Myanmar, the land of pagodas, tasted my way around the exquisite cuisine of Malaysia, surfed in Indonesia, and explored the undersea world around the Philippines.
Casey and I kept in contact throughout, but meeting again seemed unlikely. Or so I though, before I had one of those days. One of those days that creeps up on you after months on the road, where you question what you are doing, and what you’ve gotten yourself into. I was ranting senseless about the scorching heat, the lack of hot water, the bugs in the room and what I was going to do if I had to eat one more grain of rice when Casey let slip what sounded like magical words: “Come to Canada!”. He had planned a road trip from Saskatoon, his hometown, to the West Coast that summer with a friend. A trip across Canada discovering incredible places like Banff and the mystical Vancouver Island. Count me in.
I could have declined the offer, sure. I didn’t really know Casey at the time, and outside of how big and expensive the country is, I knew even less about Canada. Also, I was in Manila, more than 11,200 km’s away. However, I thought it was the best idea in the world and I threw myself into it almost without weighing the consequences. Thus began the most memorable 2 months and more than 2,000 kilometres of my travels.
With summer ended, our adventure together also did. I went back to Spain while Casey continued his road trip along the west coast of the United States. But it wasn’t really a goodbye. Casey decided to buy a one-way ticket to Spain and we continue our adventure together, this time around Europe. Since that 2nd of March, we have traveled across Spain, France, Italy, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, Morocco and, very soon, Bosnia Herzegovina and Greece. We still travel without a route or plan, although sometimes visas dictate our movements. This was how a casual meeting in a remote place in India became a lifetime adventure across 14 countries in 3 different continents with the best travel buddy I could ever imagined.
When summer ended, I went back to Spain, and Casey continued his road trip down, first up Canada’s Sunshine Coast, and then down the west coast of the United States. But this time it wasn’t really a goodbye. Casey had a one-way ticket booked to Spain for the fall, where we would continue our adventure together, this time around Europe.
Since that 2nd of March, we have traveled across Spain, France, Italy, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, Morocco and, very soon, Bosnia Herzegovina and Greece. This was how a casual meeting in a remote place in India became a lifetime adventure across 14 countries in 3 different continents with the best travel partners I could have ever imagined.