all roads lead to toulouse
We recently asked Intrepid Express readers to tell us about their best travelling coincidences and apart from hearing some great ‘six degrees of separation’ tales, stories like Sharon Slater’s proved beyond doubt that it’s a very small world…
“Last year I travelled across Northern Africa from Cairo to Marrakesh on a small group tour. In fact there were less than 10 of us left by the time we reached Morocco. None of us had known each other before the tour, except for an Aussie couple on their way to work in the UK.
After six weeks of wonderful and exotic experiences we all said good-bye at Marrakesh and headed our separate ways; most of us bound for further travels but different destinations.
I flew to Lisbon and spent two weeks in Portugal before taking a train to Paris to meet my partner Peter. Pete and I travelled in France for a further two weeks, going to Champagne, the WWI battlefields and catching up with the Tour de France in the Pyrenees.
On our last leg we caught a train from Paris to Nice, via Toulouse. There was a long wait between trains at the horribly busy Toulouse station, so I left the bags with Peter to go for a walk. On my way back, while waiting at the traffic lights, I noticed a familiar looking cardboard cylinder strapped to a man’s backpack. I knew it well – I had been carrying an identical one since my first day in Cairo and it had proved to be the bane of my life! It was a poster tube covered in Egyptian pictures and carried a papyrus. I had almost left mine in a room; the bottom had fallen out of it as I ran across a train platform (slightly damaging the papyrus); and it was now held together with a couple of rolls of sticky tape.
Anyway, I looked at the man and indicated the poster tube and said “Cairo?”, he looked at me and said “Sharon?” I was stunned and slowly I realised it was Tim form the North Africa tour with his curls cut off! Quickly I looked around and spotted his girlfriend Louise. I just couldn’t believe it! They had stayed on in Morocco to do some trekking in the Atlas Mountains before going to the UK. They had then decided to catch a ferry from Tangier to France and spent some time in Toulouse. They were on their way to Paris.
The papyrus is now framed and up on my wall. Every time I look at it (especially the damaged corner) I remember the wonderful adventures I shared on that tour and consider the odds of running into Tim and Louise at that railway station. The sights I saw were truly amazing, but the people I shared the experience were perhaps the best part of all.”
* photo by Jason Russel – Intrepid Photography Competition