Welcome to the 8th part of the Kindness on the Road series!
For this edition, we have three contributions from bloggers who were traveling with their partners when they encountered kindness in the most unexpected ways in Honduras, Laos, and Mexico.
There is also one story from a Redditor–a hilarious and exciting tale of how their taxi driver in La Paz, Bolivia made it his mission to get them safely to the airport despite rioters, blocked roads, and a hundred and one obstacles along the way.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy these heartwarming stories that will surely restore your faith in humanity.
A Kind Stranger Saves the Day (Honduras)
Katie McGrain is a foodie, adventure seeker, fitness enthusiast, and the blogger behind Around the World in Katie Days. Follow her on Facebook for travel tales, food experiences, and tempting recipes!
On a whim one Sunday morning, my boyfriend and I decided it was time to leave Guatemala and head to Honduras. Sundays tend to have less frequent public transportation, but we came up with a plan, hopped on a boat, and crossed our fingers that we would make it to our final destination by the end of the day.
If it weren’t for the kindness of a stranger, we might not have.
Stepping off the boat, we realized there were no buses waiting, no taxi drivers hustling. Nothing.
We stood there pondering what our next move was going to be when a man approached us and offered us a ride across the border.
My New York mindset (the mindset that says trust no one) kicked in: Why would he want to drive a couple of strangers across the border?
I learned why after accepting his offer. He was headed to the airport to pick up some volunteers for his non-profit organization, and saw that we needed some help. Out of the kindness of his heart, he offered us a ride.
We drove toward the border, happily eating the McDonald’s he bought us, chatting about the history of the area, the relationship between Honduras and Guatemala, and about the school that he founded in the jungle.
At the border, he guided us through the immigration process, changed our money, and told us to forget the bus; he would get us to the capital city.
Without him, who knows how long we would have sat at the border waiting for a bus? Finding a bus on a Sunday during Lent is tough, and we could have been waiting for quite awhile, possibly through the night!
This guy whom we didn’t know drove us 20 minutes out of his way to get us to the bus terminal, made sure we found the correct bus headed to our destination, and helped us bypass a full day of bus hopping and border crossing in crowded, uncomfortable and hot public transportation. He saved us, not only hours of transportation time, but also hours of waiting (and hoping) that a bus would show up.
That was one of our easiest and most comfortable days of transit–all because of a chance encounter with a kind stranger.
In Search of a Bowl of Fried Rice (Laos)
Kach Medina and Jonathan Howe are the couple behind Two Monkeys Travel Group. They are Tantra Yoga Teachers, Ayurveda Massage Therapists and TEFL Teachers – working wherever and whenever they want! Traveling status: 18 months on the road and currently based in Arequipa, Peru. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Not so long ago, my girlfriend and I were living in Hanoi, Vietnam. We had a great life, lots of friends, loads of parties, and we earned a good living teaching English.
Kach needed a visa on short notice, so we rented a brand new bike from a local place in Hanoi and headed off to the Laos border via Mai Chau. It was an amazing ride but as we arrived at the top of the hill into Mai Chau, I suddenly realized I had forgotten my wallet!
We were riding halfway across Vietnam on a rented motorbike for two days and we only had whatever cash Kach had hiding in her pockets – 600,000 VND to be exact (less than $30)! Okay, sure, money goes further in Vietnam than most other places in the world, but under $30 to drive for two days, buy fuel, get a hotel for the night, and buy food was stretching things a lot!
We made it to the border, which turned out to be a logging route with a single, run-down hotel, a roadside restaurant, a few stray dogs and nothing much else. We bargained the hotel owner down the best we could, but we still handed over most of our dwindling cash, leaving us barely enough for fuel for the return journey and nothing at all left for food and we had hardly eaten all day.
We went down to the restaurant anyway just to see if we could get a portion of fried rice. As soon as we’d walked in, a group of local guys sat at one of the tables shouted over to us, “Hey come here!”
“Why the hell not?” we thought. As soon as we sat down, two extra bowls, four fresh dishes of amazing food, and two bottles of ice-cold vodka landed on the table! We couldn’t believe it–our quiet night in a middle-of-nowhere hotel with no money suddenly turned into one of the best nights we’ve ever had.
Not only that, but our new friends turned out to be the Laos border officials who would be processing Kach’s new visa the next day!
Several hours later, two more bottles of vodka, and about a hundred photos later, we stumbled back to the hotel and passed out. All we were looking for was a bowl of fried rice and found much, much more.
Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (Mexico)
Billie Frank was a freelance travel and food writer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her blog, Santa Fe Travelers, was a treasure trove of information on the oldest capital city in the USA. Billie unfortunately passed away in 2018.
The ATM ate our money. We were in San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato, Mexico and a bit short on cash. We were on a historic walking tour a block from El Jardin, the city’s main square. We needed cash. As we were passing Santander Bank’s ATM, I thought I’d stop, get some money and reconnect with the group in front of La Parroquia, the city’s most important church.
Alas, my card didn’t work. I should have taken this as an omen, but I didn’t. My blogging partner/husband Steve figured he’d try his luck. He went back to the ATM, put his card in, pushed all the buttons and a receipt came out, but no money. WTH? It was after the bank had closed for the day so we couldn’t get help.
Arturo, our guide, came to our rescue. He called the bank for us, who sent us to our bank. Our bank said we had to deal with Santander. We’d hit the famous Catch 22. Frustrated (we’d just lost a couple hundred dollars), and tired, we didn’t know what to do. Arturo came to our rescue again. He offered to meet Steve at the bank the next morning to translate if needed.
Steve and Arturo met at Santander Bank at 9am the next day (our last in San Miguel). While we didn’t get our money back we discovered something very important: when an ATM transaction goes wrong, you have 30 minutes to fix it. DON’T use an ATM when the bank is closed.
We were touched by Arturo’s offer of assistance. It was above and beyond what anyone either would or should expect from a tour guide. I know; we offer tours. This was five-star customer service and we will always remember Arturo and his kindness.
A happy ending: three weeks to the day the ATM ate our money, our bank returned the funds to our account.
Taxi Driver on a Mission (Bolivia)
I asked Reddit for their own stories of kindness, and I got quite a lot of contributions. I will be sharing them one or two at a time. The following story was shared by isotaco, a hilarious anecdote which was probably highly stressful while it was happening.
This has got to be one of the craziest travel stories of my life. My husband and I were in La Paz, Bolivia a few years ago and had tickets for an onward flight to Rurennabaque. La Paz is in kind of a fishbowl with the airport up at the top.
I don’t remember the reason now, but the day of our flight the ENTIRE city shut down in a protest. People rolled boulders and barricades in the roads, every store was closed, and people flooded the streets, throwing rocks at anyone driving or engaging in commerce.
No taxi driver would dare take our fare; we had approached nearly a dozen just parked on the streets standing around their cabs. Then there was this one guy who finally took us up. I guess it’s only sort of a “kindness” as we were paying for his service (at no phenomenal cost either) but what happened next was purely insane.
We broke through some of the gridlock in the heart of the city, largely by driving straight at protesters and on sidewalks around the rubble. We got to this steep dirt hill and the driver told us to get out of the car. Sh– was already weird enough, and our entire lives were in our backpacks in the trunk of his car, but we got out anyway.
He floored the cab in reverse and we thought we’ve just been had. But instead, the driver gunned it and tried to drive up this steep fu—g dirt ravine. The car made it two thirds up before sliding back down, which didn’t dissuade him from trying a few more times.
When he decided on a new plan, he told us to get back in the car and we’d come up with something. He stopped people in the streets, made phone calls, and got reports on possible open roads, and we drove around in circles for an hour. I had to jump out of the car for a few times and held up ropes strung across the road so he could drive under them.
When we got close to the airport road, we found that it had been completely barricaded by parked trucks. No matter; the dude was on a mission and was going to get us to the fu—g airport whatever it took on him or his hilariously piece of sh– cab.
He turned into a residential area and drove up some concrete stairs. Yep, like how they do it in the movies. Some kids who were hanging out ran up to help us and started pushing the car. There were loud scraping sounds, obvious damage going on. I don’t know how the heck we made it, but we finally got to the airport, miraculously whole. The dude asked for $20. I think we gave him $60. It was the best $60 we had ever spent in our travels!
Did you enjoy these stories? Please don’t forget to share! We all need stories like these to remind us every now and then that kind people still exist. If you have your own stories of kindness on the road, email it to me please, and I will include it in the next edition. Safe travels!