Saturday, November 5, 2011

Indie Travel - 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?

One of the more impressive things about traveling is the willingness of people you meet to tell you things that surprise, shock, and sometimes delight you. 

Just this afternoon I was chatting with a couple, middle aged like me, as we walked down the wet sloppy trail from some falls outside of Ithaca, NY. I mentioned how amazing it is to me that people in other countries often offer radical hospitality, like the man from Ecuador who gave me his parent's name, phone number, and address in Quito. I should look them up and they will help me find a place to stay if I ever go there. 

I wouldn't give a stranger my mother's information because..........she'd probably kill me. Besides, it just wouldn't have occurred to me. 

Pan Dulce vendor in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco
That couple and I chatted on about other stuff, mainly my touring the east coast. By the end of the walk, I'd given those people my card, and they'd promised to hook me up with a friend of theirs who lives in western Florida. The two of us might enjoy each other and she would know all the great places to go along the Florida coast. 

Americans do that radical hospitality stuff too, just with a bit more caution. 

It has to do with a level of trust I suppose (and in that couple's case, respect for their friend). The fellow from Ecuador just trusted me. Maybe he trusted me to lose the information and never contact his parents at all, or maybe he just trusted me.  I doubt seriously if he had any ill conceived ideas about my going to Ecuador to be kidnapped or robbed by his compadres there. 

When I was in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, and ran out of cash, the woman who ran the hotel said, "no problem, you get the cash tomorrow and pay the bill then." I couldn't cash a traveler's check anywhere (including the hotel), my bank pin number wouldn't work for the credit card, the hotel didn't take cards (it was a "budget" place) and for whatever reason the debit card didn't work in any of the cash machines I tried.  Yet, she was fine with me staying another night, getting cash at the bank the next day, and trusted that I would return and pay the bill.  Three weeks later, I came back to the same hotel and she remembered me, found me a better place to stay since her hotel was full, and even walked all over Centro telling me about her little city. Radical hospitality. it's more than anyone ever expects and means so much to the lone traveler. 

30 Days of Indie Travel

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