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Meeting the locals

locals

There is no better way to discover a country than through the locals.
These days, luckily for us, this is facilitated by technology.
Rather than going to a bar to search out interesting characters, we are now able to find them on the web.
One of the wonderful things that I remember coming out of Photoblog*, was that people from all over the world were talking about one common interest (photography), sharing experiences, and very often also ending up meeting each other in real life on the other side of the world.

There are many sites you can visit when in search of people to meet; these are some which have worked well for us:

Couchsurfing : You can find locals that are willing to offer a couch/bed for a night. There are also plenty who are into ‘coffee’, who would be glad to have a drink with you and talk about the ‘ins and outs’ of their country.
Catherine is really into meeting these interesting characters, and we have already made some great friends this way.

Twitter : Whilst Twitter is a good place to follow (often geeky) friends you already know, if used well, you can also discover great new people there.
This is what I did. I opted to install Echofon (for its ease of use) but any twitter client will do – even the twitter site itself. You search on #hashtags (yes, those little #’s in front of keywords). It’s a bit like googling keywords but the ‘search results’ are always active twitters. From these, I check profiles to see who might be interesting to follow. After following, tweeting back and forth, and chit-chatting for a while, you might want to arrange to meet each other.
We searched for ‘#CapeTown’, followed a few people, acquired some followers of our own, and eventually met some of them. This resulted in some wonderful evenings and great stories.

Flickr : Although this site is primarily about ‘photography’, and nothing to do with ‘meeting people’ as such, very often these are the best places to find like-minded people from all over the globe. Just like on Photoblog, Flickr members comment on each others’ pictures, and quite apart from being simply a photo site, there is definitely a vast array of ‘micro-communities’ within the site.

In fact, any community site would probably work just as well. If you like wine, for instance, why not try to find like-minded locals on a wine-sharing site? In this day and age, each and every community has its own virtual, border-crossing counterpart online.

How do you, as location independents, manage to find your locals? Let us know by leaving a comment.

*I was one of the founders of Photoblog.net. These days, it is a blog. Back then, it used to be a platform just like Flickr is now (though admittedly with less features :) ), but before Flickr even existed!

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