‘It’s a small world’ is a phrase that absolutely everyone will find themselves uttering at some point. Realistically it shouldn’t make sense, the world is the largest place that we’re ever likely to explore, but bizarre events that bring truth to this maxim do seem to be strangely common. I experienced a double helping of this peculiarity on a trip across Europe.
This strange series of events began in Nice, the sun drenched city on the French Riviera. Travelling alone and having little more meaningful conversation than an argument in broken French about the validity of my ticket rather whets the appetite for companionship, and when I saw a fellow solo traveler who seemed to be conducting a detailed study of our roommates, I struck up conversation. I asked him what he was doing and he explained that he was identifying those most likely to snore, apparently he had developed it into something of an art. As a snorer myself, I steered him away from this unusual pursuit and asked him whether he’d like to spend the day exploring Nice together. He agreed and we headed to the beach, where he was astounded by the similarity of my Sun deprived torso to that of a snowman’s, after this flattering remark I didn’t feel nearly as bad about snoring. We discussed onward travel plans, he was planning to head to Corsica where he had arranged for a free bed through Couchsurfing, after which he planned to fly back home to Argentina. I was heading to Marseilles before a week in Arles and we parted with the promise of staying in touch that we both knew was often made but seldom adhered to.
As reluctant as I was to leave the paradisiacal Nice, I was excited to reach the bustling port of Marseilles and spared little thought for my new friend. It was therefore something of a shock when we tripped over each other in a nondescript backstreet. I vividly remember the ill fitting lurid green vest that he was wearing, and, as a special display of my happiness and surprise at our unexpected reunion, I didn’t mention it at all. Our meeting was short lived as he was in somewhat of a hurry to catch a ferry and we said another jilted farewell and promised, more sincerely this time, to keep in touch
This meeting certainly stuck in my mind, the chances of us both to walking that exact same street at the exact same time was surely tangible proof that the world really wasn’t so big after all. However an expansive trip produces plenty of fodder that pushes even the most memorable of events from the forefront of your mind and by the time I reached Barcelona three weeks later I had almost forgotten my boomerang companion.
Thus, reveling in the beauty of Tibidabo and the unbelievable views that it afforded over the city of Barcelona, I did not immediately notice my friend who was hiding under the shade of a baseball cap that must have been at least two sizes too large for him. I did not even notice him when I saw a clumsy figure bound up to me with the grace of a sea lion, it was not until he tapped me on the shoulder that I noticed his beaming and familiar face.
At this point I began to ask questions, why was this man following me around Europe? Was I suffering from some disorder of the nervous system induced from an abundance of continental wine? And finally, was I the victim of some elaborate and opportunistic repeat robbery? As that would certainly explain where my clean socks kept disappearing to.
My friend had changed his travel plans and met his parents in Barcelona and we exchanged the predictable “I can’t believe it” and “This is so weird” and this time didn’t even mention keeping in touch, as fate had apparently already guaranteed this for us.
This strange event has led me to conclude that I will either one day stumble across a TV channel documenting my entire life, or there is an Argentinean man who was developed an elaborate and ingenious system to steal my socks.