On our honeymoon in Oman, I decided that, rather than take an expensive taxi from the coastal town of Sur back to Muscat, we’d wake up at 3.30am and take a bus back to the capital.
We were staying some distance from the bus station, and I predicted that in the early hours of the morning the hotel’s staff would happily help us get on our way.
I was wrong. And there wasn’t a car in sight.
We started to walk to the station, and it became clear that it was going to take some time. In fact, we’d be cutting it fine the catch the bus.
20 minutes in, a boy racer passed us in what I remember to be a mustang. His radio was blaring and he was accelerating rapidly and then slowing suddenly in between speed bumps. I rolled my eyes.
After he passed us, he came to a stop, paused, and then reversed back over a hump in the road. This spells trouble, I thought.
When he pulled up alongside us, he rolled down his window and asked where we were going. Recognising straight away that we were a long walk from the bus station, he switched off his engine, encouraged us to get in, and then jumped out to help with our luggage.
His car was essentially a two seater, but the three of us crammed comically in with two large backpacks. Throughout the short 15 minute journey we exchanged stories.
The guy explained that he was on the home straight of the long journey from Dubai, which he’d driven through the night. His car had overheated around halfway, and in the middle of nowhere a stranger had pulled over to help – on the proviso that he pay it forward.
And now he had.
Recently a good friend embarked on a two-year trip around the world – a sabbatical from his busy and demanding work in London.
In a reflective moment before he left (over a Guinness in Dublin, if you must know) we discussed the purpose* of his trip. (*More on purpose and meaning to come.)
Holidays can be a good opportunity to recharge, but travel, whether for two weeks or two years, can be much more significant.
One of several things that we identified was the importance of serendipitous experiences. The unexpected occurrences that you’ll recall and smile about in years to come.
In Oman, it would have been easy for us to sleep in until a reasonable hour and have the hotel book us a car to our next stop. Opting for a slightly more ridiculous plan resulted in a memory that we’ll always associate with that special trip.
What could you do on your next journey to help encourage the serendipitous?