CITY BREAKS Memoir U.S.A

Making Friends In Chicago

Inca to Inuit - Making friends in Chicago

Those of our friends who had spent their gap years travelling had told us ahead of our trip that we would make many travelling buddies during our Inca to Inuit adventure. Arriving at our first hostel in Huanchaco, Peru it became quickly apparent that unlike the rest of the residents we had ten years of work under our belts and the ability to buy alcohol legally in the USA. Jake and I were a rare breed of thirty-year-olds who had jacked in their jobs after the first decade of our careers temporarily replacing ambition with wanderlust.

New friendships were hard to come by, hindered by language and a generation gap. Happy with each others company we spent our days as a twosome whilst the evenings were spent enjoying the fleeting company of a carousel of travellers that passed in and out of our hostels. There was, of course, a couple of exceptions, a couple of instances where Jake and I found ourselves in the presence of people we could call friends. People we knew from the moment we met them that a new friendship had formed.

Sam and Elise were one such exception. Amidst the panting and wheezing, as we scaled the dizzying heights of the Inca Trail, couple Sam and Elise offered some light relief. After four days together we exchanged details with the kind invitation of a place to stay in their home city of Chicago, a destination that at that point in time seemed like a lifetime away.

Inca to Inuit - Making friends in Chicago

Inca to Inuit - Making friends in Chicago

Five months and five countries later and Jake and I found ourselves driving south from Toronto to Chicago with Sam and Elise’s address set in our sat navs. Driving into the suburb of Evanston clutching a bouquet of flowers and Elise’s favourite Reece’s Pieces we found ourselves somewhat nervous, hoping that it wasn’t just the camaraderie of the Inca Trail that had bound us together.  Greeted with open arms and an immense sense of hospitality (which included a huge pile of Cadburys chocolate bars on our bed) Jake and I felt like we’d almost come home.

Inca to Inuit - Making friends in Chicago

We were spoilt to an evening of Chicago’s best cocktails and gastro pub food. The night seemed to run away all too quickly in an endless stream of conversation and laughter.  What was meant to be a one night stay turned into two and had we not have been behind schedule we could of quite happily stayed three.  Relaxed days were spent slowly meandering around the nearby Lake Michigan, North Western University and a tour of the fixer-upper property that Sam and Elise were due to move into any day.

Inca to Inuit - Making friends in Chicago

Inca to Inuit - Making friends in Chicago

Inca to Inuit - Making friends in Chicago

Inca to Inuit - Making friends in Chicago

Seeing a US town through the eyes of people our own age, with similar ambitions and interests made Evanston the first place in the States where we felt we could have lived.  Watching Sam and Elise fix up their incredible new house, made us both yearn for the next chapter, stability and home.

After a night of indulging in an Indian takeaway (something we had craved for the past seven months) and a marathon of watching the American’s, a drama Sam and Elise had introduced to us it was time to say goodbye. Realising that the words “ please come and see us soon” were somewhat of a big ask we hoped that one day we would be able to repay the favour and see our new friends again.

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