Friday, September 28, 2007

And Another Crazy Experience

I think I am starting to figure this traveling thing out a bit. I am alone, that is all there is to it. I make friends, share experiences, and then I start all over again. Always alone. This morning I said goodbye to Michael and Marketa and started off on my own once again. As a result of my laziness, and because I wanted to get my money's worth out of my $11 room (the most expensive of the trip), I did not get up at four to catch the only bus from Gracias to La Esperanza. I decided to try my hand at hitchhiking and started a new adventure.

The first driver picked me up about 1 km from Gracias and drove for about an hour before pulling over and just dropping me off in the middle of nowhere, and telling me that the town I wanted to go to was like 15 km down this dirt road. "Just follow the road, it will take about 2 hrs" he said. OK I thought this is getting interesting. I started walking and about 15 minutes later was relieved to hear a vehicle coming up behind me. I turned and tried to flag down the driver, who just sped up and shouted " tu puta madre" at me as he drove off. Well that didn't work out so well so I just kept walking, enjoying the clean mountain air (if I had known just how disgusting Tegucigalpa would be I would have savored it even more). Soon another truck came driving up and I again flagged down the driver. He stopped and I asked him to take me to San Juan. He didn't seem to happy at my request, but nodded his head and so I walked to the back, and threw my backpack in with his three teenage kids, who had made a little bed with some blankets and pillows, and were just chilling listening to music. I climbed in and off we went. We stopped shortly after when we came to a place where the road had washed out and where a work crew was furiously trying to repair the damage while about twenty cars waited on either side to get by. During this time I chatted with the driver who said that he was going to a town near Tegucigalpa and would give me a ride all the way there!! I was really excited and thanked him repeatedly. This was the first time (but certainly not the last time) that I experienced the overwhelming kindness this family offered everyone.

We started off again about thirty minutes later. With eight of us crammed into a small pickup, the quarters were certainly cramped, but we made the best of it! Soon we arrived in La Esperanza, where we stopped and they bought ice cream. Sure enough when the daughter came out of the shop she was carrying an extra cone for me. I was again surprised by this act of selfless kindness. The journey continued and I drifted off to sleep for about an hour as we drove along the deserted highway. I awoke suddenly when we pulled over to the side of the road and the dad hopped out to buy us all (again myself included) huge bags of fresh pineapple. I asked if I could pay for this but the mother simply smiled and shook her head. If I have not made it perfectly clear let me reiterate that this family certainly did not have a lot of money, their clothes were old and worn, and the truck we were in had certainly seen better days. About two hours later we pulled over for lunch and as we all sat eating fried chicken and potato salad (I only had the potato salad) a man and his two kids came up and started trying to sell a book to anyone who would buy it. The book was some thing like "Metals and Materials" not a book that anyone would be interested in. The conversation was rapid and I could not understand much of what was said, but it was clear to me that the man was trying to feed his kids. The mother looked slightly annoyed, but after a couple of minutes the dad simply smiled, put down his fork and handed an almost full plate of food to the man telling him it was for his children. The kids were clearly starving and ferociously started shoveling food into their mouthes. "God guides me" he told his wife with a smile and then she too passed over her plate to the children. I was so moved by this that I was practically in tears as I walked to the register to pay for my meal. As we stood there I told the man as he was paying that I wanted to buy everyone's drinks to thank him. He looked a bit surprised but said OK. Clearly I was not understood by either him or the woman at the cash register who handed me a bill for the entire meal!!! Now, granted it was a roadside cafe in the middle of nowhere, but a meal for 8 people plus drinks still cost $16 dollars. I was quite surprised when I saw the bill, but tried not to show it and simply handed over the L304 and again thanked the man for his kindness. They drove me to the bus station in the town near Tegucigalpa and we said goodbye. They wished me safe travels and I again thanked them for their overwhelming kindness.

Each day I am amazed at the kindness of strangers. Whether it is this family, or the old woman who took me into her house and offered the best meal she could for next to nothing. These selfless acts move me everyday. I strongly encourage everyone who reads this to stop and think about whether they are passing up opportunities to help others??

1 comment:

Daniel said...

August,

This is an amazing post. When I read it I am so proud of you and how you are experiencing this world.

BTW, as I read this I'm finishing off the first batch of organic applesauce from our apple trees.

As they say,

Be well, do good work and stay in touch.

Ciao,

Dad