Temp mates

When you travel, the people you meet along the way become your best friends for the time. You are surrounded by new faces and have to continuously re-introduce yourself using the stock question-and-answer routine you've memorized over time. So when you establish a bond with someone, you grasp it even though you know it may only last a short time and will end with your imminent departure or theirs. Sure, distant friendships may establish themselves but, after some time, they simply fade away and we may not notice it happen. 

Having set up an apartment and pseudo-life in Sydney, I was enjoying my independence - away from my travel companions and roommates. We had just spent a week hosting our Danish friends, Kat and Sab, whom we had met a few months prior in New Zealand. In the three weeks we spent touring New Zealand, we had formed a tight bond with a handful of people from various places so we were happy to be reunited with the two Danes. It was like hanging out with old friends as we showed them around town.
A few days after their departure, my co-worker at the café invited me to hang out in Bondi. Olga was a spunky Czech with an eye on Brazilian men, and Bondi is full of Brazilian men. Since I was a Coogee dweller and had only partied in Bondi Junction a couple of times, Olga took me under her wing and showed me her favourite spots along Campbell Parade. My roommates were somewhere in the area but had been 
slightly over-zealous with the goonbag and stumbled back to Coogee before we could meet up. 
Olga and I became best friends for the evening, pub crawling our way into the morning hours until we landed at her cramped backpacker flat with a few other travellers. I could have attempted to return home instead of passing out on a hard floor among strangers but in my state I might have ended up in Oatley.  
Four hours later, I awoke to a cluttered flat no fancier than my own and upon receiving a text, I gave a quick high-five to the people around me, thanked Olga - I would see her that evening at work - and made for the sunny morning street in the beachside suburb. 
The text was from Peter. I had met Peter in Canberra a few days before Christmas while on a visit to see my university pal Jodie. Peter and Jodie were old friends and he happened to have a girlfriend from a small French Canadian town near my own hometown. The following day as I boarded a Greyhound to head back to Sydney for Christmas, Peter showed up and we got the last two remaining seats, side by side. He was going to pick up his girlfriend at the airport in Sydney. After several the hours on the bus and a lunch on arrival, we quickly became friends so it wasn't surprising that he would want to hang out on this day. He had just dropped off his girlfriend at the airport after spending the holidays together and I guess a little distraction was in order. 
We spent a full day swimming, eating and drinking. The waves on that particular day must were huge - no easy task for this Canadian lake swimmer - so Pete taught me a thing or two about swimming in the sea without getting annihilated. After exhausting ourselves at the beach we made for the city - Pete to the bus station and myself to the café for my shift with Olga. We hugged goodbye and planned for a future hang out but, in the end, that was the last time we ever did hang out. 
It was also the last time I would have a travelling adventure with the Danish friends, and the only time I would ever hang out with Olga outside of work. 
That's just the way friendships go when you travel. They are at their height in that spontaneous moment, but they are also circumstantial. I've kept in touch with some of the friends I made during my travels but one of the beauties of backpacking is keeping the memories of those you knew for a short time. 
{F}

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