Whenever you travel you are going to meet people. Some people are the same as you, some are weirdos, some are lame, some are awesome and some you will never forget. Bill is one of those people I will never forget. I met Bill in Cordoba and he was far more interesting than anything else I saw in that city.
We had just arrived in Cordoba and the first thing to do was to settle our stuff in the dorm room. I was digging around my suitcase and felt someone knock into me. My first thought was “you dumbass there is so much space around me but yet you walk straight into me” and then I looked up. There was Bill. Skinny weathered legs sticking out of shorts, a bald head and a missing row of teeth. He looked about 100 years old (he later told me his age was 346).
Turns out Bill was in fact 74 years old, an American and a widower. He wore a T-shirt with the American flag on it (incase anyone wanted to spit on him) and did whatever the hell he felt like. He’s been travelling the world ever since his wife died 6 years ago and hasn’t looked back. I asked him what he did that day and he told me he caught the local bus, got off in a working class area and had an arm wrestling match.
Bill and I spoke about some of the places we had both been travelling to. When we spoke of Hanoi I told him how I thought it was cold. He told me while sitting at the lake in the centre of town he saw the turtle that only surfaces every 20 years. In Hoi An I spoke of all the delicious treats we ate. He told me how he made friends with a local and spent most of the time in the surrounding villages. Every place we had both been to Bill had better stories than me. He wasn’t trying to sound impressive or make my experiences seem less worthy. I just felt that way listening to him.
Bill to me was a true traveller. He was everything that poncy hipster “I don’t listen to the lonely planet” travellers are trying to be. It was so refreshing to listen to him, knowing that he wasn’t exaggerating anything to make himself sound more hectic. He spoke like a grumpy old man but he wasn’t grumpy, he just didn’t give a rats ass as to what anybody thought. As I listened to him I thought to myself, I wanna be like this oke when I’m old.
Unfortunately I never got a photo of Bill as I was too busy chatting and topping up his wine glass. It is a bit of a bummer but I’ll never forget that old dude.