Small World in Greece
Okay, Mark asked for a small world story. I can't beat his friend's, but here's the best I got:
In 1998 I went for a backpacking trip around Europe. I started in London and after a few weeks of rainy weather, I bought a ticket one day to Greece. Athens is a horrible pit (except, of course, for the Acropolis) but I soon took off for the islands. On the first island I arrived at - a beautiful rock called Santorini out in the middle of the Aegean - I met a group of 8 or so other travellers from all over including South Africa, Canada, U.S., Australia and Sweden. We immediately hit it off and were inseparable from that point on.
We all arrived on the island of Paros a week or so later and rented motor scooters and took off for the hills and soon found ourselves completely lost. It's not a big island, but there's lots of little roads to explore and we did. Finally when we were way the hell up on some road that had a great view of the ocean, we all decided to stop and take a group shot. We stop the scooters and it's all quiet and we all give our cameras to one of us to take a shot (being as we were in the middle of nowhere - not a house or person to be seen) and just as we get all that straightened away, we hear the sound of another scooter! We were COMPLETELY lost, way off the beaten path (or so we thought) and up comes a guy and a girl on a scooter and they're about to pass us, see that we're in need of some photo help, so stop and offer to take our picture. Just at the moment we need it! That was pretty funny and coincidental right there, but it just gets wierder.
So we all thank the guy and he grabs all of our cameras (and no he doesn't take off, but he jokes about it) and as he's taking the pictures, he's saying funny things to get us to laugh. Finally he's taking the last picture and he says something like, "Everyone say Australia Rules!" and the two Aussies in our group give a big cheer and we all go back to retrieve our cameras. As the Aussies are getting theirs, they strike up a conversation and within 14 seconds, one of the girls says, "Wait a second... I know you! umm..." And the guy says, correctly, "Yeah, I know you. You're Kristie, right?" The rest of us just gape. Kristie says something like "wow!", but can't figure out where she knows him from. He knows her, he says, because they work for the same company and she's in technical support. There's only one of her so it's easy for him to remember, but obviously there's a ton of people she supports so it's harder for her. Finally she remembers who he is (Rob, I think) and they recall chatting months before about their Round-The-World trips they were going to take.
Here's the thing: They were going in OPPOSITE directions - Rob going from the U.S. to Europe and South Africa before heading home and Kristie starting with SA and ending in the U.S. - and the great thing is they remember joking about meeting in the middle! Well there you go: They met. I watched it with my own eyes. In the middle of an island in Greece on almost exactly the opposite side of the world from where they worked together back in Sydney.
Incredible. As they say in Spain, "el mundo es un paï¿½uelo" (the world is a handkerchief)
P.S. The non exciting end to this story is several weeks after I left Greece and the group, I was roaming around Venice and walked by Rob again. Since I'm not an Aussie that works with him in Sydney and my only interaction with him was 10 minutes on the side of a road in Greece, I didn't bother flagging him down. Pretty amusing... in that moment it seemed like he was everywhere... From that point on I kept looking for him. ;-)