Lost your faith in humanity?
If all you do is read or listen to the news, I can’t blame you.
There are so many tragic stories we hear from the media that it’s sometimes hard to see the world as a safe place. It seems that wherever you go, there are always people waiting to take advantage of you.
Travelers are especially vulnerable, often finding themselves in a new place and usually not knowing anyone. Locals may see them as an easy target. And yet, a lot of travelers I’ve met know that kind people are everywhere. They can be locals or fellow travelers, and they help strangers even when they don’t need to. Sometimes they even go out of their way just to assist someone in need of help.
In this 11th collection of stories of Kindness on the Road, read how Kristin Repsher, Lexie Willems, Justin Carmack, and Claudia Tavani restored their faith in humanity when they received help from unexpected places in Croatia, Germany, Thailand, and Peru.
The Good Samaritan
Kristin Repsher, a landscape photographer and travel writer, blogs at A Pair of Boots and a Backpack. For her, the boots and backpack symbolize the type of travel she lives for. A software engineer by day, her favourite place is the outdoors. Take a look at her portfolio and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Getting your wallet stolen, no matter where it happens, is a traumatic experience. When it happened to me in Croatia, I really struggled to sort out my situation while living on a boat with no Wifi or address. However, I couldn’t stay frustrated for very long when so many people stepped up when I needed help.
I’ll never be able to repay the tour guide who not only shared her vast knowledge of Game of Thrones but also 100kn ($20) so I could ‘enjoy her city’ (aka eat lunch because I had no money). Or the Calgarian I met on Dubrovnik’s walls who offered a loan (to be repaid when I next visited Canada). Or the hostel owner that offered as much money as I needed for the day without knowing exactly how I could pay him back.
Most surprising of all, though, was the message I got through Facebook a full 4.5 months later. When it arrived in my inbox, I read the story of someone who had been walking through a park in Split and had found my wallet under a bush.
I was incredulous. I’d initially hoped that someone would hand in the wallet to the police so I could have some of the irreplaceable items back before I left. By the time I flew out, I figured it was gone, perhaps discarded unceremoniously into the harbor.
The photos attached to the message — of my driver’s license, my SIM cards — removed any doubt. It really had turned up again.
I was initially concerned that it might all be a ploy to get even more money out of me. I made an offer to pay for the shipping, expecting to be asked for more; instead, the mystery man used the change that the thieves had left in my wallet to pay for the shipping. He asked for nothing more and the wallet — with its irreplaceable items, such as my Wimbledon grounds pass that I had queued hours for — arrived a few weeks later.
And with that, my faith in humanity was restored. Having my wallet back wasn’t the important part — it was the fact that someone was willing to go out of his way to do something nice for someone he’d never met.
So thank you Mr. Good Samaritan, and thanks to everyone along the way that helped when I was in need.
A Kindness in Berlin
Lexie Willems is the blogger behind Steps to Follow. She loves tea, photography, and travel, and she is currently preparing for the best year of her life. This year, she plans to travel the world one paycheck at a time. Follow her adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
After getting no sleep on an overnight train from Amsterdam to Berlin, Hannah and I stumbled off the train, our backpacks heavy on our backs, our eyelids heavier on our eyes. Not being coffee drinkers, we ordered the largest cups of coffee at the train station anyway, preparing for a long walk ahead.
By the time we arrived at Lette’m Sleep hostel, we were real-life zombies. I’m sure the scenery along the way was mesmerizing but, in a dream-like state, everything looked like a comfy bed to lay down on to me.
We walked into the office where a young man was working away on his computer. We assumed we were too early to check in but were hoping to drop our bags off. He greeted us kindly and, perhaps taking pity on the magnitude of the bags under our eyes, worked some magic and snuck us into a private hostel room early. With much thanks we hopped into our beds and slept soundly until the afternoon.
When I awoke from a long nap, dread filled every part of my soul. I realized that my most prized possession, my DSLR, was missing. Frantically, I searched the room but it was nowhere to be found.
Near tears, I raced out of my room. I nearly ran right into the hostel worker who looked delighted to see me. The young man waved me to his office saying, “you left something behind.” He turned towards me with my camera bag in his hands, “I figured you might need this.” He smiled, holding the bag out to me.
I nearly burst into tears of gratitude. ‘I should hug him!’ I thought. I stopped myself in the nick of time, reminding myself of the embarrassment I will feel afterwards. Instead, I thanked the man over and over again for all of his help today.
His response— “it was nothing.” What he’ll never know is that at the time, it was everything.
The Man on Koh Tao
Justin Carmack, the blogger behind True Nomads, calls himself a permanent nomad who’s living the life of true freedom. He left the USA in 2011 for a university trip to South Africa and never went home. Follow his diving and other adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
I arrived by boat on the Island of Koh Tao, Thailand very early in the morning. I was really happy to be on a beautiful island, and had no worries at all. I had not made a hotel reservation as I had just spontaneously decided to make a visit from the mainland. In Thailand I had never had a problem finding a room last minute.
So I took a taxi to the main beach area where it was said all the backpackers hang out. I thought that from there, I would find a place to stay. As you might have expected though, I could NOT find a single empty bed! I wandered for 4 hours with my big backpack, asking every hostel and hotel and guest house I could find, yet somehow every single one was full.
I was baffled. This never happened before. I was getting very discouraged and wondering if I would be sleeping on the beach.
As I was walking around a busy corner, a Thai man ran out with a glass of orange juice and asked me what the problem was. I told him that it seemed there wasn’t a bed on the whole island for me. So he invited me into his restaurant and told me to sit and he would call around.
I did so, and he spent 30 minutes calling all the places he knew looking for a bed for me. But there were none. Finally he gave up and told me to come with him. We walked outside, and he told me he was going to take me to another part of the island on his scooter, where there might be a room. I was a little worried about riding on the back of this little scooter, especially with my big bag, but I really had no other options anymore.
After an amazing tour of the island for about another hour, we finally found a place for me. I was relieved, as well as happy to have seen the parts of the island that I never would have seen without this guy. I offered him some money but he would not take it. He just helped me out from the kindness of his heart.
Finding Eucalyptus Leaves
Claudia Tavani of My Adventures Across the World is from Cagliari (Sardinia) and is obsessed with traveling. A former human rights lawyer and academic, she decided to give in to her biggest passion in November 2013 and started traveling around Latin America, and she has hardly stopped since. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
In my adventures across Latin America, I have met some kind, genuine and sweet people. So kind indeed that they give me faith that human beings are still sociable creatures, that they still do fend for one another even when there is nothing in it for them, and that their humanity does not just target their close family and friends but even strangers they may never meet again.
I have had such encounters in many Central and South America countries, yet the most amazing ones have been in Peru, where I have traveled twice already. Peruvians – as most Andean people – have a reputation for being very reserved, to the point of being considered rude. They really are shy in fact. But in that shyness I have also found some of the kindest hearts.
I can recollect many episodes, but one that each time I remember gives me a warm feeling happened in Cusco at the end of April 2014. I was coming towards the end of my travels – I would have to cut them shorter than expected because I kept getting throat infections, and I was either in tremendous pain, or facing the side effect of the antibiotics the doctors would prescribe. The verdict of the clinic in Cusco was that as soon as I’d go back to Italy, I should remove my tonsils.
I had been sick on the road for about 2 months then, and I thought there was little point in traveling if I could not fully enjoy it. Waiting for my travel agent in Italy to change my return ticket, I tried to make the most of my time in Cusco. I kept taking my medicines every day, but I also looked for a more natural remedy to the pain.
Talking to locals at the hostel, I got word that eucalyptus tea worked wonders. I was also warned, however, that it was not so easy to find eucalyptus leaves. I thus started my search across the various markets in town. I browsed the stalls at Mercado de San Blas but nobody seemed to sell it. Eventually, a lady suggested that I visit her sister’s shop across the street, as she’d have it, and in any case, she’d look into getting me some leaves and would I stop by later on to get them.
The sister’s shop, however, was closed, so I went to another market and finally found a little bunch. On my way back to the hostel, I stopped at San Blas market to get some bread. The lady I met earlier saw me and gave me a huge bunch of eucalyptus leaves. I told her that I already managed to find some but she insisted that I take the ones she got me. She also explained how to prepare the infusion.
The lady had gone to such lengths to find the leaves for me that I could only accept them. I then took out my purse to pay her, but she did not want my money. She actually just wanted to help me! I was truly touched, to the point that the day before leaving I went to the market to say goodbye and pose for a picture with her.
The tea did help a bit, and a year later, tonsils out and no more pain, I still remember this sweet lady who helped me, smiled at me with such a warm heart, and wanted nothing in exchange.
What do you think of this series on stories of kindness received by travelers? If you have experienced something similar, email me your story and I will include it in future posts!