Wow. What a week it's been. Several weeks, really. As previously mentioned, I departed the Overland Expo with a cadre of new overlanding friends. In a little over two and a half weeks (which seem like months, given how much I've seen and done in that time), through shared adventures over rough trails, many made and broken campsites, a few scrapes and bruises, a light-up, dancey birthday party deep in the desert, and lots of shared food and beer, new acquaintances—folks I have only known for a scant few weeks now—have become road family.
An unexpected closeness dominated our campsite a few nights ago as we sat down to a birthday feast (happy birthday, Ashek!) with Alex, Ashek, and Robbie and Val and their two wonderful girls, Sylvie and Leonie, an event more reminiscent of a holiday family dinner than a group of new friends sharing a campsite.
As we lived and traveled together on the road, loosely sharing a path into unfamiliar territory (due to various mishaps and particularities of overland travel, I bounced back and forth between convoying with Alex and Ashek, traveling solo, camping with the Roving Bugs, and traveling all together as a group), we quickly developed a bond of friendship disproportionate to the amount of time we have known each other.
To be fair, the others had a head start. Alex and Ashek met the Roving Bugs in Baja and have been sharing a path for some time now. Still, we have all been brought together by our travels and shared experience on the road.
I see it as a testament to two things. First, overlanding tends to select for some pretty interesting, like-minded people. It must be next to impossible to spend a significant portion of your life roaming around the world and drifting through other cultures without an open mind and a thirst for fresh experience (my fellow travelers' trips have included stints in Mexico or other countries, while my foreign adventures to date have been part of earlier, airborne travels). Second, this flavor of travel is so rich with new experience that it accelerates the process of getting to know and becoming close with people.
However it comes about, it's a wonderful experience that adds a bit of warmth to the excitement of travel.