Before the concrete idea of becoming a travel writer or even a travel blogger entered my mind, I met Klaas. My husband, Cory, and I had decided to spend spring break in Peru, taking the four-day hike to Machu Picchu. I was working full-time in Corporate America at the time, but it was not going well. I was unhappy and working to build a portfolio of freelance clients on the side so I could get out sooner rather than later. Cory and I worked our leg muscles, training our bodies to get used to the arduous we were going to put them through. Our bags were packed, our passports ready to be stamped. And then the day before we left for our trip, I was let go from my department (creative and advertising services) and told there may be a position waiting for me in IT when I returned, but that I’d have to interview for it just like anyone else.
And so we left for Peru, intent on enjoying the experience regardless of whether I had a job when I returned home or not.
It’s funny how things work out, really. We’ve been on trips before where we meet people and exchange pleasantries, but on our hike to Machu Picchu, we met three people that have steadfastly remained our friends to this day. Two of those people are Bethany and her husband. The third is Klaas.
Klaas was the first around-the-world traveler I’d ever met. Considering what I do for a job now and the fact that I regularly meet people tripping around the globe all the time, it’s funny to think that just three years ago Klaas was introducing a foreign idea into my word. Originally from The Netherlands, Klaas was taking about a year to travel the world, hitting countries of interest as he went. He was nearing the end of his trip and had just come from Bolivia, where he participated in adventure activities that properly prepared him for the physical exertion we faced on the Inca Trail. While we took our time going up and down the hills, trying to catch our wheezing breath, Klaas literally ran from one stop to the next, squeezing in naps before lunch and dinner before we’d even rolled into camp. He had no problems taking on the trail, and at night, when our small group of six hikers and two guides gathered around the makeshift dinner table, Klaas shared stories about the places he’d been. He was interesting and engaging, and his travels inspired me to do something better with my life, even if I needed to bide my time in IT until I could make a clean break from the toxicity of the cubicle.
On our final day on the Inca Trail, we all decided to stay in touch via Facebook. Klaas and I occasionally toss notes back and forth on the site, and he was particularly interested in the time that Alexandra spent with us last semester because he was a foreign exchange student in Canada when he was in high school. He speaks highly of the experience, and I often hoped while Alex was with us that she would have similar thoughts in the years ahead.
When I decided to send Klaas a letter, I asked him for his snail mail address, and he told me he had to Google the term “snail mail” to find out what it meant. My note to him was primarily about traveling—where we’ve been as of late, where we’re going. I also told him that we aren’t planning on hosting a foreign exchange student this coming semester, but that we hope to do so again in the future. From what I can tell on Facebook, Klaas is doing well, and it’s exciting to see how far we’ve both come in just a few short years.