Adventures of the Heart and Soul

We commonly travel for the destination. A place suddenly intrigues us, or has intrigued us for many years. We may not know why, but we know that we must go there. This can feel very urgent, or it can be a slow burn that keeps growing until we buy that ticket. Sometimes these places are all we thought they would be and more. We feel a connection to them instantly, a sense that for some reason, we belong there. Other times, they may not quite meet our unbridled expectations.

I have felt a sense of inexplicable attachment to many countries, while there are others that I definitely have not. I have still enjoyed them, but I did not feel a soul connection and that is okay. If we felt there was something for us everywhere we went, life would be even more complicated than we already make it. There is something magical and mysterious about what makes some countries feel like home to us, and others not so much.

“I have absolutely no doubt that we are meant to meet certain people at certain times. There is a peculiar chemistry that draws us together, regardless of language, geography and lifestyle.”

These experiences are certainly peppered by the people we meet along the way. While a country is a stand-alone character in all of our explorations, it is the people we encounter who make these places memorable, changing our experience for better or for worse. This includes all of the people we meet, from locals to random fellow travellers to that first greeting in an airport to any chance encounters that we simply never saw coming. While we cling to the name of the country, city, town, province or state that has given or continues to give us joy, it is really the names of the people we have met in this place that are responsible for our affection and fondness toward it.

A man and a woman (Melissa) meet up in front of Toronto sign. They are smiling for the camera. They are friends.
13 years later!

If you are someone who likes to get on a plane from time to time, then you will probably have a colourful collection of soulmates, temporary lovers, kindred spirits, new BFFs, random travel partners, long-distance relationships, and interesting one-off local interactions in your memory bank. Some people are with you only for a moment, while others have a hold on you forever.

Two women standing together and smiling. One is brunette with glasses, the other (Melissa) is blonde. They are beside each other, smiling for the camera.
27 years later!

The gift is that we don’t always see this coming.

While in Nepal earlier this year, I met a kindrid spirit from England who initially seemed to be a bit of a challenge, but soon enough I felt quite attached to her and I know there are more travels ahead for us, which will undoubtedly be entertaining. I met up with another Brit here in Toronto, (yes, I have a penchant for the UK), who I met 13 years ago in Guatemala, and 13 years later, our friendship is just as strong. I was on a biking/canoeing/drinking media junket in beautiful Peterborough, Ontario this spring when I met my new BFF, who actually just lives twenty minutes away from me in Toronto. The universe intended for us to be friends. We had instant kinship, and have had numerous memorable times together in only five months. This summer, I went to Europe where I caught up with a friend from Slovenia who I hadn’t seen for at least eight years. I fell in love with her all over again, and felt a big hole in my heart when we had to say good-bye. When I was 16, I spent a few months living in Namur, Belgium on exchange. From the moment I arrived, I was under the spell of my new best friend, Ethel, who took me under her wing, teaching me French and what true friendship was all about. We were together again in Brussels, 27 years later, as if no time had passed. Laughing, remembering, talking, just being in each other’s company so easily after all these years, feeling the joy of our mutual and indescribable bond.

I have absolutely no doubt that we are meant to meet certain people at certain times. There is a peculiar chemistry that draws us together, regardless of language, geography and lifestyle. It is this feeling that we ‘go together’ with certain people, in whatever capacity or time span that may be. Perhaps travel is the catalyst. Perhaps travel is what gets us to where the universe needs us to be to meet the people we are supposed to meet. I feel another country calling. Clearly there is someone out there.

(Note: this article was written in 2019, pre-COVID-19).

Four friends on a beach, smiling. Two women and two men. All of them in baseball caps.
Ah, Nepal! New friends.


“A visit to the FLY studio is always fun and entertaining. Melissa is a true professional with an ability to quickly put guests at ease, which creates an environment that fosters more engaging storytelling. As Toronto’s only radio travel program, FLY and Melissa give voice to communities, individuals and organizations that have inspiring and intriguing stories.Through Melissa’s passion for storytelling, she takes listeners on a journey that leaves them yearning for their next adventure.”

Timothy Chan, Former Head of Communications & PR, G Adventures