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Staff Sound-Off: Getting to Know the Locals

We asked our staff, “What’s a meaningful personal interaction you have had with locals while traveling?” Find out which personal experiences have made an impression on them.

Many years ago, I was traveling in Jordan with a small group of journalists. We were walking through the market in a small town — I don’t even remember where now — when a shopkeeper invited us into his store. But he didn’t want to sell us anything; he just wanted to talk. He pulled out a half-dozen chairs, poured us small cups of tea and began asking us questions about our lives in America and our experiences in Jordan. We spent about a half-hour with him and left with an unplanned, inspiring personal connection to the country.

— Brian Jewell, executive editor

On the night of my arrival in Nice, France, for a trip with Collette, three of us left the bar at the Hotel Ellington when a young Frenchman asked if we wanted to join his group in the courtyard. We spent an hour or so over beers talking with five or six young locals about the essence of travel. They were heartbroken over recent terrorist attacks in Paris and felt that the appearance of uniformed security guards had robbed France of its innocence. And two of them talked about how much they had enjoyed a road trip they’d done in America. It was pure serendipity that they asked us to join them and absolutely delightful once we did.

— Mac Lacy, publisher

Once during a trip to Italy, a friend and I stayed at a remote bed-and-breakfast in the mountains above the Amalfi Coast. It was the first time during the trip that we felt genuinely immersed in Italian culture. Even though few of the locals could speak English, everyone we encountered was warm and welcoming, and occasionally, we were able to communicate using Google translate. We later discovered a wonderful pizza parlor in the village, which quickly became our favorite hangout. The owners would always encourage us to use their Wi-Fi and stay as long as we liked. By the time our stay came to an end, we almost felt like part of the community. We saw some pretty incredible sights throughout our travels in Italy, but that little village in the mountains left the strongest impression.

— Savannah Osbourn, staff writer

Two summers ago, I met a dude at a random bar in Prague who had Czech and British parents, so he spoke English fluently. It was really cool talking to him about the city and how their culture is different from ours in America. I never forgot our conversation in that basement bar, and we still talk every once in a while to this day.

— Kyle Anderson, sales assistant

Graham and I love taking our cameras out and just walking around a city. We were doing this in Savannah [Georgia] last year and found a young woman on River Street sitting in a shop window and smoking a cigarillo on her break. After talking to her for a bit, I ended up asking if we could take her portrait. This shot has become one of my favorites because of the way her personality shined through, from her chipped nail polish to her undercut hairstyle.

— Ashley Ricks, circulation manager