On Tuesday I paddled out to a spot I’d never surfed before. The tide was wrong. The wind was wrong. But there were only a few people out — three boogie boarders and one surfer — and I like to get a feel for a wave without the added complexity of managing a crowd.

I sat a bit wide and inside, signaling my acknowledged place at the bottom of the pecking order. They chatted amongst themselves in Portuguese. Until, one of them turned and looked in my direction. While I glanced behind me to see if he was looking at someone else, he said something I couldn’t hear. I turned back to see him paddling my direction. Quickly.

Oh god, I thought. I’d experienced overprotective locals before, but didn’t expect it here in Portugal. At least not today.

But as he got closer, and his back-lit face became a little more clear...

“Taylor? Is that you?” he said. “It’s Lowie…”

Holy shit! It was UK-born big-wave nomad Tom Lowe, a universally loved gentleman I hadn’t spoken to since he hitched a ride out to Maverick’s on a boat I’d organized back in January.

We caught up and he explained that he and his family were strategically based in Portugal for the winter, given its easy striking distance to Irish slabs and Nazare’s behemoths. He kindly offered to show me around, lend me gear, etc.

There’s no real point to this story. It’s just travel doing it’s thing, and I love that. It was also a reminder that a lifetime of investing in relationships with people around the world pays dividends at the most unexpected and wonderful moments.