I might have been in Namibia when I met Kosta. Or maybe it was South Africa. I'm not sure. After three months on an overland truck tour you start to lose track of which country you're in - the roads and the campsites and the faces all blur into one.
So in all honesty I don't really remember which country I was in when I met Kosta. But I do remember what became of our encounter.
Let's say it was in Namibia. It was a chance meeting, one of hundreds I had on that African adventure. You meet new people every day on a trip like that; you chat, get to know them for a few hours and then you wave goodbye, consigning them to a small place in a distant memory.
Kosta could have been like that. The campsite, I remember, was a dusty one, a remote place with a clearing for tents, a dodgy little bar and not much else. It was a stopover point in the perfect centre of the middle of nowhere.
I'd finished setting up my tent, hammering pegs into hard ground, and figured I could use a cold Windhoek beer as the sun went down. That's when I met Kosta. He'd come in with another group, in a different truck, and had apparently had the same post-pitching idea.
So there we were, two travellers striking up a conversation at a one-horse African campsite bar. We established we were both Australians, established we were both on holiday, and then swapped the usual chat about what we did for a living back in the real world.
I was a journalist on sabbatical, I told Kosta, taking a quarter-life-crisis gap year to escape the seriousness of a career. He was a Europe-based bus driver for the tour company Top Deck, he told me, spending his off-season on holiday with someone else at the wheel.
"What are you going to do after Africa?" Kosta casually asked.
"I dunno," I confessed. "I guess I'll head to London and try to find a job. Or maybe I'll go to Edinburgh. Or ... Somewhere else."
"Why don't you come work for Top Deck?" Kosta suggested. "You could be a cook for us, easily."
"Really?" I kind of laughed, then went back to drinking my Windhoek and talking about who'd made the footy finals back home.
But Kosta's idea stuck like an acacia thorn in a shoe.
We went our separate ways after that night at the campsite but for the next couple of weeks, as my tour drew to an end, the prospect of a summer on a bus in Europe began to appear more and more attractive, until I finally sent an email to the contact Kosta had given me. And you know what?
He was right. I could become a cook, easily.
A few months later I was on a bus in France, in training; a couple of weeks after that I was working on my first tour.
For someone who'd had no plan and no idea it was the dream outcome. During the next six months that job would take me sailing in Greece and motor-yacht cruising in Croatia. It would take me running with bulls in Pamplona and drinking with locals in Munich. I would serve eight banquets in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. I would go on seven booze cruises in Amsterdam canals.
And all because of that chance meeting with Kosta.
Maybe I've had a little too much time on planes and trains recently, sitting and thinking, but I've become slightly obsessed with these chance encounters you have on the road and how they change your life.
It seems like when you travel you meet far more people than you would at home, which opens you up to all of these random moments of chance.
That I met Kosta was pure luck, a timely spin of fortune's wheel. Travel is like that, a thousand encounters that could change your life - and that one did.
Pretty much every amazingly great thing that's happened to me since then has been a butterfly effect of that meeting in Namibia. Or South Africa. Or wherever it was. The places I've lived, the jobs I've worked, the girls I've loved, the things I've seen - they all had something to do with that evening with Kosta.
Of course, I've also had about a million chance encounters that have amounted to absolutely nothing. It's the same for most people, these random meetings with nothing to show for it. But every now and then, maybe just once, a Kosta will cross your path in Namibia, or South Africa, or wherever it was, and offer to change your life. Make sure you take the chance.
Did you meet someone that changed your life while travelling? Post your stories below.