Day 5 of the 30 Days of Indie Travel Project focuses on kindness.
One of the greatest joys of travel can be the random acts of kindness you’ll receive from total strangers. Have you ever found kindness from strangers in unexpected places?
If travel has taught me anything, it is that people all over the world are inherently good. I have experienced this in many ways, large and small – even on my current trip, when I lost my ATM card in a machine in St. Petersburg and was able to retrieve it thanks to hostel staff members that were willing to go above and beyond the call of duty.
As I wrote about for Day 4 of this project, I have made my share of travel mistakes. But many of those mistakes ended up providing an opportunity for me to experience the kindness of strangers firsthand. Three in particular stand out for me:
Leaving My Backpack on a Bus and Getting it Back
When I left my backpack on a bus heading to the airport in Budapest, a stranger – I don’t know if it was the bus driver or a fellow passenger – turned it into the lost and found at the airport. Not only that, when I looked through it after getting it back, it was clear that whomever found it looked through it, yet everything was intact – my iPod, my backup credit card, a wad of Euros. I suppose it is kind of sad that I consider NOT stealing anything from me an act of kindness, but even just turning the backpack in to the lost and found was the real act of kindness.
Relying on Strangers for Support When I Hiked the Inca Trail
When I made myself sick from too many coca candies while hiking the Inca Trail and the friend who had accompanied me on the trek was less than sympathetic, a wonderful couple from Australia, Persis and Allan, stepped in. Retirees, probably in their late 60s, they brought up the pack of the pack with me, stopping with me when I needed to rest and encouraging me all the way. Allan even whipped out his harmonica and led Persis and me on a sing-a-long to keep our spirits high.
I don’t know if they have any idea how much I appreciated them staying back with me. Even though there was a guide whose job it was to stay behind the last person in the group, it would have been incredibly lonely and discouraging if I had been hiking only with him. Persis and Allan gave me the strength I needed to get through one of the most physically challenging experiences of my life.
Experiencing Kindness in Cairo Right After Being Scammed
Finally, when I got scammed in Cairo, my frustration did not last long due to the kindness of strangers. Immediately after my minaret mishap, I cautiously approached the entrance of another madrassa. This time, I was welcomed inside by an elderly Egyptian man who proceeded to show me around, explaining things entirely in Arabic and not asking for a dime in return. His kindness took the sting away from the annoyance and self-doubt that had overcome me just thirty minutes earlier.
Likewise, as I prepared to catch a taxi to head back to my hotel in Cairo, I went to buy a bottle of water so I could change a large Egyptian pound bill. The shop owner I approached did not have change, but rather than refuse me (which was often the case), he went around to about five other shops until he was able to get the money to change my large bill. It may have been a small act, but by the end of the day, the kindness of those two men helped me overcome what otherwise was a very bad day. Now, I just look back at the whole thing and laugh.
Have you experienced the kindness of strangers while on the road? How did it affect your view of the country you were in
*Throughout the month of November, BootsnAll is inviting bloggers from around the world to join them in a daily blogging effort – the 30 Days of Indie Travel Project – designed to reflect on how our travel experiences over the last year – or whenever – have shaped us and our view of the world. Bloggers can follow the prompts as strictly or loosely as they like, interpreting them in various ways and responding via text, photos or video posted on their own blogs.