There is nothing more beautiful than a generosity of a complete stranger. I’ve travelled across the globe as a solo traveller and the sheer kindness of people have always kept me speechless. There are many people I know in my life now who live in the same city and don’t even take the time of the day to reply back to a message, let alone help you cross the Guatemalan border.
So I wanted to re-tell only a few of travel kindness that strangers have bestowed upon me, if only to make people think about how they treat strangers, or even how they treat their friends.
1. Dutch guy, travelling on a mini-bus from Cambodia to Thailand
When I was in Siem Reap, Cambodia I decided to catch an air-conditioned bus to Bangkok, Thailand. The lovely driver decided to put me in the back of the bus where 3 other gentlemen were sitting. So you can imagine that for a good 8 hours I was squished between some pretty big lads. Anyway, I must’ve been trying to sleep and the Dutch guy to my left told me that I could sleep on his shoulder. He even grab a t-shirt from his bag and told me it was clean as he placed in on his shoulder. I thought it was the sweetest offer, and when we were in Bangkok I decided to have pad thai with him for lunch. We couldn’t spend the day together because my sister was coming into town that night so that was the last I saw him. Until this day I do not remember his name, but I do remember his generosity.
2. Argentinean stranger at a bus stop in Buenos Aires
I travelled to Buenos Aires and happen to meet someone there, anyway he lived in Nunez which is quite a nice suburb in Buenos Aires, but you had to get 2 buses to get there. My Spanish was ok, but I still wasn’t very confident in speaking it. Anyway, I decided to try my luck and get the bus there. The first bus I hopped on the driver let me pass because I didn’t have any small change. I then hopped off to the next bus stop where I needed to catch another one. I asked a stranger if he had any small change. He said he didn’t but that it was ok. He then pulled the bus over to let me get on first, when I got on he told me that this is the one that would take me where I needed to go. He then jumped on after me and tapped his card into the reader and walked back out of the bus! Turns out he was paying for my trip and he was actually getting another bus. I couldn’t have been more grateful for his kindness. I tried to give him money but he refused it, I had a big smile for the rest of that night.
3. A kind man at the Nicaragua border to Costa Rica
I decided to catch chicken buses from Granada, Nicaragua to the Costa Rican border. Through out my whole journey of Central America I had always met other travellers that would then cross the border with me. This was the first time I had decided to get the chicken buses myself. As I got to the bus stop I had found my first bus that I needed to take, an older gentleman knew I was a tourist and he just looked at me and said “Costa Rica?” And I replied “Si.” Little did I know he would end up being my border crossing angel.
The same man ended up sitting behind me on the bus, guided me onto the next one, even shoeing away people trying to scam me. When we got to the Nicaraguan border he lined up with me and handed both our passports together at security, paid people to fill out my forms, and also told me how much I needed to pay to exit the country. We then would walk to the Costa Rican border and the guard had stop us. They asked if he was with me and he just said no, he just met me and I was his amiga. He couldn’t speak English so when I spoke to the guards he just looked at me and said “Problema?” and I just told him no. Anyway turns out I had to get an exit bus ticket out of Costa Rica before I was allowed to enter, so he lined up to cross the border and that’s where we lost each other. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye or to even thank him, but I was so grateful for his help.
4. 2 English girls on the bus from Thailand to Cambodia, Siem Reap
I took a long bus journey from Koh Lanta back to Bangkok, straight after that I went to the bus stop so that I could get the bus to Cambodia. It was at that bus stop that I checked my money and had realised my US dollars had been stolen. Someone from the bus had taken my money, $200 US dollars in fact, and had kindly left me with $11.00. At this point I started to break down, it was a long journey and I was going to use that money to buy books for the school I was going to volunteer at. I had asked at the counter to see if there was a cash machine dispensing US dollars and they said there wasn’t any, but there was some at the border. I spotted 2 English girls, Jenna and Jennie who were also waiting for the bus if they knew of a cash machine near by. They said no, and had told me they were advised to take US dollars out before. I then told them my situation and hoped that the border had an ATM. To my surprise the girls offered to spot me the difference and pay for my visa. I was overwhelmed and still until this day I am still friends with these girls. After 2 years I saw them in London a few months ago. They have a beautiful baby and their hearts are still as beautiful as the day I met them.
5. Italian Hostel Manager, Buenos Aires
I frantically got a cab back to my hostel is Buenos Aires and I was running like crazy worried I was going to be late for my flight to Brazil. Matteo the hostel manager and I had been hanging out in Buenos Aires a few times and he was such a lovely lad. Anyway, I needed to book a cab to the airport, the hostel gets a certain discount and turns out I was short on money. Matteo saved my life and spotted me the difference, I told him I could Paypal him the money or bank deposit it as I was in such a rush to get to the airport. He said not to worry and that he’d cover it. I was actually so shocked, I thought I’d have to go to the ATM and possibly miss my flight, which I think that’s probably what he would have preferred to be honest. Luckily 1 year later he moved to London and we met up with each other, I got to repay him in pints and helped him move into his new apartment.