Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Kindness of Strangers

WOW! So much has happened since I last sat down to write that I really don't even know where to begin. I had a pretty rough week, but am in a better place (both mentally and physically). This is probably going to turn into an incoherent rambling monologue, but here it goes...

I have definitely had the lowest points of my trip over the past week and a half. Facing adversity, I was able to resolve a tough situation, and handled myself surprisingly well. Nonetheless, the sheer emotional drain that it caused has made me feel wrecked. I am sooo tired right now. I have been on buses everyday since last Wednesday without a break, and I have one more to go today. I will then arrive on a Caribbean beach in Costa Rica! I am not going to move from that beach for a minimum of five days!! OK...back to what I was talking about before (told you this was going to be a rambling monologue! Chalk it up to a. a minor hangover, and b. no coffee). The point is, I have had a stressful time, but I worked through it and am in a better place now, and am feeling great about traveling again. Indeed, I can't even wait for that bus this afternoon, after all it is talking me to a Caribbean beach!!!!!!!

I think that the thing that keeps recharging my battery, and keeps me going is not the desire to see new places (though of course that is a huge part of traveling), but to meet new people. I now almost take it for granted that I am going to see something pretty spectacular on almost a daily basis, but meeting new people and sharing memories with them is something I will never take for granted. The underlying theme of this trip so far has become the kindness of strangers. In an attempt to prepare myself for all the things that were going to come my way (which of course you can't) I read a book entitled The Kindness of Strangers shortly before departing on my journey. I am amazed at how spot on the book has been. Many of the wonderful experiences I have had involves strangers, whether it be another traveler that I shared a meal with, a local who did something nice for me simply to be helpful.

As an aside, this happens with amazing frequency. For example, and this is just one of many, a Costa Rican guy that I asked for directions took me to a bus stop, waited with me and chatted, then paid for both our tickets when the bus came. He took me to where I needed to go, we said goodbye, and then he just walked off. I don't if he was going somewhere nearby or not. Truly, he is just one of the countless amazing people I have met.

Meeting so many great people has truly changed my life. I have always been a trusting person, and so when people talk to me about their overwhelming fear of being robbed, beaten, raped, etc. I try to simply share my experiences. Yes, bad things happen and not everyone is a good person, but if you open your heart and choose to believe in the decency of mankind it is amazing just how many acts of random kindness you will experience (hopefully on both the receiving ANNNNDD the giving end). As I write this I am sitting in the living room of an American couple living in San Jose. We met on the bus yesterday, and they invited me to stay at their place. They prepared an amazing meal, and we drank beer and chatted (In Spanish only, as a Tica friend of theirs was here and insisted that we speak only in Spanish, though, her English was perfect.) into the wee hours of the morning. Yet another in the constantly growing library of random acts of kindness. As before, I would really like to encourage everyone who reads this to stop for a minute and think about how they are treating the people in their lives. Are you acting with kindness in your heart?? I try everyday, and as a result I have had amazing experiences that no one else will ever have (i.e. they are MINE!!). Indeed the experiences I have had are changing my life. All because people act with kindness in their hearts...

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