Author: Iurij Ita

Description: I am under the sun of the Australian summer in Queensland.  Do you think I am on a beach? You are wrong, mate! I am travelling on my own and I am now waiting for my red Greyhound bus to depart from a petrol station where crew and passengers are having a break on the way from Townsville to Mackay, with some more intermediate stops scheduled. I decide to take a picture of the bus because it represents "the travel" to me. A girl comes off the bus in that very moment. I think "what the heck is she coming down right now that I am taking the picture?". She is probably thinking "what the heck is this guy taking a picture of with me in the middle?". We don't say a word one to the other, though.  The bus gets to Airlie Beach. I get off and reach the mini van that will bring me to the hostel. The aforementioned girl is on the same van. It's just the two of us and the driver, who finds out we are one from Germany and the other one from Italy. Still, no words between the two passengers. A few hours later, though, I am strolling around the village and end up to a bridge, where I decide to take a picture of the landscape with my small camera (no mobiles could take pictures by then), paying the utmost attention to detail. I am done and then I hear a voice, someone is asking me if I think it is a nice spot to take a picture and some extra advice. I look to my right and... guess what, is the German girl! We recognise each other but this time we start talking right away, helping each other with our pictures (no selfies which destroy communication...), then switching to our journeys, the accommodation, the trip of the day after. Everything like we have been knowing each other for ages. The same night we are in the same team in a trivia competition at the hostel. We shamefully lose (more shame on me, unable to link "Michelangelo" to the artwork "Pietà"... although they called it "Pieta" with a totally wrong accent...) but we have loads of laughs.  The day after we are off to Whitehaven Island. Our boat breaks down and we have to be transferred to a smaller vessel. Our newborn friendship is undermined by the fact that the last ones to have registered will be left on the shore at Airlie Beach.  One by one the people who cannot be transferred to the vessel are called out. Despite having registered the night before I am not among the stranded ones, possibly by two units only. A whole day out with Marion - this is the name of the German girl - and another friend of hers makes our friendship stronger. One of us taking pictures for the other and vice versa. Talking, laughing. No "selfies", again. We decide to go to the same hostel (this time on purpose) at our next destination where another friend of mine is waiting for us. We all have a blast in Fraser Island, sharing meals, adventures, pictures (one of them will become "legendary") and stories while meeting other people in our tour. After three days between Fraser Island and Hervey Bay our paths separate. We know we will meet again. We don't know we will randomly meet again after two days at a bus exchange. The surprise cannot be described with words, as well as the joy for meeting again after such a short time. Marion goes back to Germany, I have 10 months in Australia ahead of me. You may think we won't see again. You are wrong again, mate! The journey continues after a couple of years when I travel to Germany. Marion and her husband welcome me to their house and introduce me to their little child. I become a German supporter for a night (the football World Cup semifinal in which Germany beat Brazil 7-1!) and spend two days full of memories and happiness with them. Two more years, another travel, and another piece adds up to our everlasting friendship puzzle. Marion's family goes on holiday to Tenerife, where in the meantime I have lived for nine months. I plan my visit back to the Island, where I am supposed to visit some friends of mine, in a way that I can meet my German friend(s) again.  Therefore our trips partially overlap and, well, one day my friend "decides" that I have to be with them, no matter what. I am kidnapped (read "picked up") at my accommodation in the morning and brought back in the evening, after a beautiful day spent on trails over the sea of clouds, typical of the area around El Teide, the iconic volcano in the island and tallest mountain of Spain. The words will never explain the feelings. These moments have to be lived.   In a world of fake things, never underestimate travelling which can give you a lot, including the chance to meet true nature, different cultures... and genuine people. I look again at the picture of that red Greyhound bus with a girl next to it. I genuinely smile. The journey continues, our friendship too... where will we meet next?

The competition is over on 31/12/2019

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