Sunday, April 12, 2015

Should I Have?

Traveling is a series of choices:
  • Barcelona or Madrid?
  • Eurail or Ryan Air?
  • Schnitzel or bratwurst? 
  • Taxi or combi bus?
  • This cathedral or that one?
  • Make new friends or stick to yourself?

That last point is where this post begins.

With so many choices, more significant than in your daily life at "home," it's not hard to make a few questionable decisions. I frequently reflect on a day on the road with "what was I thinking? [Whatever thing I didn't choose] was obviously the much better choice!" But there's only so much time, money, and energy, and sometimes we make decisions on the spot that we wouldn't have had we thought it out a bit more.
Sometimes these less-than-the-best decisions can be harmful or stupid (series of bad decisions that led up to me missing my flight in Milan back home to St Petersburg last August), and sometimes they're just frustrating (spending two rushed, boiling hot days seeing every single tourist attraction in Rome instead of spending an extra two days relaxing in Cinque Terre...).
Perhaps the most challenging, however, are the decisions where it's still not clear whether you made the right choice or not. 

Let's rewind about 355 days: April 2014, my friend Kaley and I are in Kazbegi, Georgia (read more about that here and here). Early one morning (lol no it was 10 am), we set off to hike to Gergeti Trinity Monastery.
Gergeti is the speck way up on the left peak
On our way towards the trail head, we passed a group of 5 or 6 guys on motorcyles coming down from the church, thick mud caked to their tires and boots. We had been warned about the mud since it had rained the night before, so we stopped and asked them about conditions of the trail. We chatted for a few minutes, and it turns out they were all from different countries, and had met up to motorcycle across the continent!

They gave us some recon about the mountain, we thanked them and kept walking.
Then like two minutes later I heard the roar of an engine behind us and the Georgian guy of the group had pulled up beside us. He basically said he was happy to meet two fellow travelers, and being Georgian he knows the area well, and invited us to meet up for drinks that night. I gave him my phone number and we pressed forward.

We climbed the mountain and made it to Gergeti!


They seemed like really cool guys! I would have loved to swap travel stories with them and hear more about their motorcycle adventures, but we never met up...
that night Kaley and I went back to our homestay family's house and had a super fun night. In the afternoon, we discovered the adorable puppy Nagaz and played with him in the yard for a while. Later we convinced our host-brother David and his cousin David to give us a ride on their horses. Unfortunately, brother-David's horse was grazing somewhere in the mountains unknown to him at the time, so we rented another horse from another friend/cousin (I forget exactly how much it cost, but really cheap), and the two David's took us up to a recently built, very sweet church called Ilya where most locals go to worship. We laid in the open, grassy fields for a while, before galloping back down the mountain!
Kaley didn't love doubling up haha

Gergeti Trinity close up
I wasn't with my phone most of the evening, and when I retired to bed that night I saw I had a text and two missed calls from the Georgian motorcyclist. I had completely forgotten about them...oops. I knew they were leaving Kazbegi in the morning, and it was already late, so I never replied.
I still wonder, though, about that missed connection.
Was going riding and exploring the town with the David's the right choice? Definitely.
If I hadn't forgotten, could we have done both? Probably.
Did I miss out on amazing conversation and new friends or did I avoid an awkward and boring meet up? I'll never know.

Do you have any travel regrets, missed connections, or lingering questions about what might have been? Comment below! I'd love to hear from you.

Bonus photo: me trying to pose with a cow running away from me

 **Sorry I'm the worst photographer ever, better pics here: CLICK THIS

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