best friends
best friends
Feature image courtesy of Kostiantyn via Shutterstock.

To my best friend,

Distance doesn’t matter. You changed my life for the better.

Meeting my future best friend was the last thing on my mind when I arrived at the Newark airport, six hours into a long day of travel and less than 48 hours after returning home from Guatemala. Exhausted, I found myself dreading more travel time and questioning my motives for coming on the trip in the first place. After all, swinging the trip had been nothing short of a financial burden, and missing nearly a month of school in the middle of senior year isn’t something to take lightly.

Yet there I was, flying by myself to meet the near strangers I’d be spending the next three weeks traveling in Panama with. The trip was a leadership retreat hosted by our high school; however, though we attended the same school, online classes meant that we had never met each other prior to gathering at the airport.

Love At First Sight

People talk about love at first sight. While I find that hard to believe, there’s no denying that we we were instant friends. Though we were coming from different backgrounds, two things connected us – our love of travel, and indecision with life.

For us, the trip was coming only a month before graduation, and while we presented ourselves as having it all figured out, the truth was we were clueless and scared. Travel was our escape, Panama the last hoorah before we were expected to become adults. If we couldn’t find ourselves at home, maybe travel would give us the answers.

Within hours, Panama became our playground. In our first week alone we survived jellyfish attacks, allergic reactions, and salsa classes with retirees smelling of musty cologne. Our mornings were spent in Spanish class, while afternoons found us exploring the town of Boquete or being harassed by monkeys at hot springs. Nights were reserved for making deep-fried Oreos and having those chats that happen only among best friends in the early hours of the morning.

Exploring Boquete
The author and new friends, exploring Boquete

Pushing The Limits Of Comfort

My best friend, though I made every attempt to come across as a fearless world traveler, being in Panama shoved me into situations I’d have preferred to avoid, from adventure activities to awkward social situations. It began when we were greeted by a tarantula at our hostel in Boquete, and continued on nearly every outing we took, whether it was in town to shop (and practice Spanish) or to salsa dancing classes. There is no amount of instruction that can help someone with no sense of rhythm, and I fear my dance partner has permanent damage from the number of times I stepped on his feet.

It was the impromptu whitewater rafting trip that finally pushed me to the edge, yet your encouragement finally led me to the raft – but only after I fell down the bank to the river. Five seconds into the trip I panicked and punched you in the face with a paddle, yet you only laughed, more proud that I had gotten into the raft than concerned I may be the reason your teeth fall out.

Two weeks flew by and soon we found ourselves in Panama City, saying goodbye to the places we had come to love. Our last night was spent reminiscing – re-enacting moments that had happened only days before – and promising to stay in touch. We barely slept, often bursting into rounds of laughter so loud it’s amazing anyone else got to sleep.

Saying goodbye at the airport was hard – though we had met only 20 days prior it was as if we had known each other our entire lives and the thought of no longer having you at my side was horrifying. Though there were plenty of promises to meet again soon and reminders of love, there is always the possibility that the first time you see someone is also the last. It’s all a part of the travel life.

best friends
View of valley and town of Boquete, Panama, Central America. Photo courtesy of Alfredo Maiquez via Shutterstock.

Coming Together Again

Thankfully, our goodbye truly was a “See you soon,” as two months later led to us tearing up the dance floor at our senior prom, yet another night I will be unable to forget.

Graduation brought us together just a month later. This was perhaps our most bittersweet goodbye, as we were each running in our own directions. I would be moving back to my hometown while you moved to Maryland, over six hours away. Between our busy work schedules and the drive, reconnecting was difficult, but we eventually made it work, using your new location as an excuse to explore Maryland together.

In the two years since graduation our locations have changed – I’ve moved twice and you’ve been across the country and the world on trips to Peru and Taiwan, not mention living in Maryland for over a year and a half. Yet there is something to say about distance making the heart grow fonder

Though I see you less than most of my other friends, you are the first person I run to for advice or to share excitement. We have no time for petty arguments in the time we do have together and tend to skip straight to the important things – something I know has made our friendship both stronger and more authentic.

best friends
Sky and her best friend at graduation

Life-Changing Decisions

Five months ago, I decided to make the life-changing decision to travel. You were the first person I called. “So….I just bought a one-way plane ticket!”


“Plane ticket. Costa Rica. January 7th. One-way.”

You didn’t ask any more questions, only congratulated me with excitement. You knew what this meant, how long I had waited for this. No one else understood the allure of travel, the absolute need to be somewhere doing something; but you had been there, had seen it before. You understood. Just as I knew spending the summer in Peru was your life-changing path, you knew this was mine.

Through every doubt, every hesitation I’ve had about this trip — and there’s been a lot — you were always there to encourage and remind me exactly why I was going in the first place. On the days I called complaining about working three jobs, you told me to suck it up, because it would be worth it in the end. When fear starts to take hold and I begin to wonder if those who are saying it’s a bad idea are right, you are quick to bring up Panama and remind me that, while travel can be scary, I am perfectly capable of pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

Our friendship is at a unique point. I’m preparing to travel the world while you’re preparing to get married. Leaving for a year has me concerned about many of my friendships, but I’ve never once doubted ours. After all, travel has been the heart of our friendship since day one.

Though I say this all the time, thank you. Thank you for supporting and encouraging me to face my fears and travel. Our adventures are just beginning – who knows where we’ll end up next. Though I think a bachelorette party in Panama is a wonderful idea…



By Sky Fisher, blogger at Sky vs World

This article is part of an original Epicure & Culture series, #ProjectLoveNote. Click the link to read more inspiring stories.

Are you best friends with someone you met while traveling? Please share your experience in the comments below.

Also Check Out:

#ProjectLoveNote: An Ode To Solo Female Travelers

 #ProjectLoveNote: Guatemala, You Stole My Heart

Travel Must-Have: The Bucket List Tote Bag

The following two tabs change content below.
Sky Fisher is a small-town country girl with a passion for travel. She has a love affair with Central America and currently calls Costa Rica home. Follow her adventures at Sky vs World.

Sky Fisher

Sky Fisher is a small-town country girl with a passion for travel. She has a love affair with Central America and currently calls Costa Rica home. Follow her adventures at Sky vs World.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.