One of the great things about travel is meeting people. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just traveled to the next town over or to an entirely different country. Connecting with the locals is always a great way to get a sense of a place – the culture, the customs, the traditions. I’ve been so fortunate to meet all kinds of people on my journeys – other travelers and locals alike.
I truly believe that we, as humans, are inherently kind. I’ve seen this time and again during my travels – a complete stranger helping a fellow human being with directions, offering food or water, or helping to change a flat tire. Humans are good-hearted. Yet, on the news, we seem to be bombarded with all the bad people out there. Let me tell you, there are far more kind people than evil people in this world. And I want to remind all of us of this fact.
Case in point. I was traveling in Turkey with a friend. Our GPS had quit on us and we didn’t have a good detailed map. We were driving from one town onto the next which was a fairly long drive. When we arrived in the town, we only had the street address for the hotel. But, without a map, we couldn’t even find the street. We drove around a bit, but couldn’t find it. I stopped the car at a corner where some locals were hanging out. Deb, my friend, jumped out of the car to find out where our hotel was, figuring if we at least had a general direction, we would find it. Well, since we only knew about 3 words in Turkish and most Turks don’t speak that much English, we knew it was a long shot. Deb approached the small group of people as I looked on. The next thing I knew, some man (maybe in his mid-50’s) was opening up the back door of the car, pushing our belongings on the seat over and sitting in the back seat. Deb, in the meantime, had taken her position in the passenger seat and looked at me as I looked at her. I knew we were both thinking, “are we getting car-jacked”? But, the kind man in the back seat directed us (giving back seat driving a whole new meaning for me) using hand gestures and we arrived at our hotel, safely. Deb and I offered him a ride back to the point where we had picked him up. He refused. We offered him money. He said no. He did this out of the kindness of his heart, helping complete strangers find their way to their hotel. This is what I have seen time after time as I have traveled. True human kindness. True human goodness.
I am sure many of you who have traveled, near and far, have similar stories. I know I have more – a couple in Ireland stopping to help me change a flat tire, the young man who walked my friend and I to our guesthouse (all uphill!) in Turkey, the hostel owner in Spain who walked me over to her friend’s hostel so I could get a room for the night (her hostel was full), the ladies at the hotel in Italy who called my room, worried about me when I didn’t come out of my room (I was sick in bed).
So, when you feel yourself losing faith in the human race, go travel! You’ll find yourself believing again in the goodness and kindness of people.