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Long Distance Friendship & The Healing Power of Travel



I can still remember the day Christa arrived at Victoria's McCauley Elementary as if it were yesterday. My grade two teacher, Mrs. Evans, walked a tall, curly-haired, bright-eyed girl, over to my desk and rather confidently stated, "I think you two are going to be great friends." I gave my new friend a big-toothy grin, and we laughed. Mrs. Evans could not have been more right. Christa had a mischievous smile and an infectious giggle. She lit up every room she walked into, and it wasn't long before we were thick as thieves.


We were both military kids. Christa's dad was in the Navy, mine was in the infantry. We both had little brothers. And we both knew what it was like to be raised by moms who had to bring up spirited kids in the absence of Dads. She was a salient part of my childhood. Our giggle-filled sleepovers, elaborate backyard theatre productions, and carefree summers marked what I feel was the most magical chapter of my childhood. But like every childhood story, there is always an ending. I'll never forget receiving the news that my family was being posted from Victoria to Winnipeg. I felt like my whole world was crumbling in. I remember going to school and hugging my best friend goodbye for the last time. And as we took the ferry over to the mainland to start our road trip across Canada, I didn't realize it would be thirty years before I hugged my friend again.


In February of 2022, my Instagram app pinged and I opened it to find a message from Christa:


"Hey Jord, I'm not sure if you're still doing the travel thing, but my 40th birthday is coming up and I want to get the hell out of here."

I learned that Christa had just wrapped up a divorce. Serendipitously, the ink had barely dried on my own separation and it just so happened I was also turning 40. I wondered if she was thinking what I was thinking; We almost blurted it out at the same time


"How crazy would it be if we rang in forty, together?!"

We shrieked in unison. "Let's do it!" And in a matter of days, two very overworked solo moms, in desperate need of some uplifting, sun, belly laughs, and adventure, booked ourselves to the Mayan Riviera for a thirty-year friend reunion and birthday extravaganza.



Now, you might think that two relative strangers who hadn't been in a room with each other since elementary school may experience some awkwardness, but it was like no time had passed between us. It was the kind of trip that was needed to celebrate ourselves as women, as single moms, and most importantly, as newfound friends.


Touring around Chichen Itza

One of my favourite things about travelling with friends is experiencing all of the firsts together. We had both spent the pandemic sheltering in place with our families, so this was the first trip either of us had taken in a couple of years. It felt a little strange for me to step onto a plane masked, Covid protocols still very much in place, even as a seasoned traveller, it was unnerving, so it was comforting to travel with a companion.


We spent the next week dancing our derrieres off, venturing around the Yucatan Peninsula, exploring the local town, making new friends poolside, and soaking up the relaxing, adults-only atmosphere of the Wyndham Alltra Playa Del Carmen.


And in between cocktails, reliving our hilarious daily misadventures and endless fits of laughter, we caught each other up on three decades worth of life. We talked of our travels, our careers, our babies, heartbreak, and everything in between. We even journeyed back through our childhoods and learned about each other's experiences. Another layer to this already rich, shared history, was that Christa is one of the few people left on earth who knew my late father. Though she remembers little of him, it was enough to find comfort in a beloved connection to the past.


girl friends laughing at eachother

When our trip came to a close, we promised to make this an annual tradition, and we kept our promise! Earlier this month, these two cheeky moms spent a fun-filled week on the beaches of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic to ring in our 41st birthdays. And yes, I promise there will be a follow-up post - Many, in fact! Stay tuned.


But I wanted to end with this:


“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”

Angela Anaïs


In this season of my life, my friendships have never been more important. I've spent the last twenty years exploring the world with my partners, and while that is indeed something I would love to continue, bonding over new adventures with my dear friend Christa is something I look forward to, I dare say, even more!


So if your bestie has the audacity to live across the country or just a province or State over, close the gap! Pick up the phone, shoot them a text, send them an email, and let me help you put together a trip for both of you. And if you have lot's besties, even better! Let's build something you'll be talking about for years to come!


Life is too short, and remember time is the one thing you can never get back.


Los Tres Ojos, Santa Domingo
Los Tres Ojos, Santa Domingo

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Author:
Jordana Manchester

Welcome to my passion project - the Storied Lands travel blog. Gather here for trip inspiration, stories, destination spotlights,  helpful tips, and thought-provoking discussions about important issues throughout the travel and tourism industry.

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