Of Strangers and Roads

Tea with Strangers. Open-air Chinese tea ceremonies with strangers around the world.

“About six years ago, me and my friend decided to travel to France. It was her long-time dream. Back then I lived in Moscow, while she was based in Minsk. Our journey began on one summer day – we hitchhiked through Poland and Czech Republic, and were to travel to Germany next, but we got stuck on the road right after Prague. No cars stopped, then it started raining, and we spent half of the day on a petrol station. Finally, a married couple picked us up. He was Czech, and she was from Switzerland. We barely spoke English and French back then, but the husband who studied in Moscow spoke Russian, so we were able to communicate with them. They were so kind and gentle with each other that looking at them I was thinking to myself, “I wish I could experience something like this one day.” After hours of waiting under the rain it just felt so good in that car.

At one point, we had to decide whether we stick to our plan, or change our route. But the couple offered us to travel with them to Switzerland. In France, our destination was Lyon, which was closer to Switzerland, and after texting our friend in Zurich to check if he could host us, we accepted their offer. Because of this shortcut, we were going to arrive in Lyon a day earlier than we planned. On our way from Switzerland to France, we sent a message to our friend in Lyon to let her know we were going to be there earlier, and turned out that she was traveling in Switzerland with her mom. Thus, we had no place for the night.

With only 4 SMS left on our SIM card that we received from a driver in Switzerland, we messaged our friends in Belarus and informed them about our situation. They posted a last-minute request on Couchsurfing. In about 20 minutes, we received a message from one guy who agreed to host us. We accepted his invitation and arranged a meeting point in Lyon, but it was going to be our first Couchsurfing experience, and we were a little afraid of staying overnight at some stranger guy’s home.

It was already dark when we finally arrived in Lyon – our first day in France, everything looks so strange and shocking. We’re late from our appointment, but we find our way to the station and meet our host. Everything was fine, we stayed at his place, then continued our journey to the south of France, and then returned back Lyon where we met with him again. And today… he’s my husband.”

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