Yes, of course! Of course, I never was looking for it, but it happened. And regardless of the outcome, it left some vivid memories. In fact, people you meet under unusual circumstances tend to linger in your memory. Especially if you've been through hardships and adventures together.
I don’t think I know anyone who would deny the importance of human relations, affection, love and friendship. Some spend half of their lives looking for the prefect soul mate. Others decide for the "bird in the hand", and find themselves glancing longingly into the bushes from time to time. Yet social contacts are important not only for meeting our need of affection.
During my university years I explored the theory of social constructionism. It suggests that our cognitive function is strongly tied to communication and language. Through conversation people put sense into things and events around them, and the world gains meaning - becomes real. Even when we think, we do it in a form of dialogue. Our knowledge, values, beliefs are all outcomes of interactions with others, starting with our parents and teachers, and ending with casual acquaintances. Every new person to some extent changes our view of the world. The context in which communication takes place has a strong effect on the depth and speed of transformation. Some contexts boost them exponentially. For example, traveling.
Imagine that every day at work you interact with… Brazilians. You would have an opinion about them and subconsciously extrapolate this opinion onto the entire nation. Moreover, the conclusions drawn from your personal experience will dominate over all that you know about Brazilians from public sources (school, media, etc.). Now imagine that you are going to Brazil for a few weeks’ vacation, where you willy-nilly have to communicate with the locals. If afterwards you would be asked to describe Brazilians, you are very likely to do so based on impressions from your trip. Even short contacts in the context of travel will have more weight than the long-term cooperation in a familiar work environment.
Have you ever traveled in a small group for one or two weeks? If so, try to remember the experience. How important did these people become in a relatively short time? How long would it take to develop this level of closeness in a normal environment (e.g. at home)? The context factor is responsible for making most people at least once fall in love while travelling.
Many remarkable encounters take place outside of our usual surroundings. And each of them makes an impact on our view of the world. We always come back a little bit different. Travel is a very fertile ground for all sorts of changes and discoveries. Not to mention the fact that you never know whom you’ll meet.
Photo: Crane Zhorik, Tungur, Altai, 2008