I took a trip to Costa Rica a few years ago. It was one of those impulse trips. I’m known to hop on board with any opportunity to travel. This time however, the opportunity included a man I had briefly deluded myself into thinking I was in love with. So it was a double win.
The trip was perfect. Another good friend of mine was out there already so we met up with him and went all over the country. Traveling and falling in love are two of the times it is easiest to be completely and utterly present. I remember every moment of each day. That kind of presence slips away from us in the mundane.
Anyway, we all went our separate ways, since our flights left from different countries, at different times. I was taking a bus to the airport and was under the impression that I would transfer from one bus to another at the same station. I got off the first bus after a breathtaking drive through the rainforest and looked for my transfer. To say my spanish is bad is an understatement, and although I’m usually pretty comfortable being in new places by myself, I started to panic after frantically looking for my bus around the entire station, three times. Granted, it was a pretty tiny station.
An older man with a soft gaze who spoke only spanish approached me and I can only assume asked if I needed help, probably due to my deer-in-headlights appearance. Trying to explain my dilemma to him in broken spanish, I showed him my ticket. Pleading in my eyes.
He took my hand, and together we walked. We walked through what was at one time cobblestone streets. Through alleyways, fields, and I’m pretty sure a few back yards. We walked. And walked. And walked. I could hear my mom’s voice in the very back of my mind, cautioning me against going who knows where with a strange man in a country in which I don’t speak the language but something deeper in me told me I was safe. If I hadn’t been so open and connected throughout the trip, I’m not sure I would’ve heard that voice of conscience.
It’s funny how time always feels slower when you’re going somewhere for the first time. My watch showed 20 minutes, but it seemed like we had walked for hours.
When we arrived at the bus station, he walked me to my stop, took both my hands in his, looked into my eyes as if he could see my soul, and said, “Thank you”.
This man who had spent his valuable time walking a stranger across the town for no reason other than the kindness in his heart thanked ME.
We hugged. I cried. (I’m a crier) And every time I thanked him, he shook his head, and thanked me again.
Travel is beautiful. It opens the heart and mind in ways nothing else can. The trip was amazing and I have plenty of beautiful memories I’ve taken with me, but the experience with that man changed my life. I’m reminded in moments that I’m rushing or when I feel like what I am doing is SOOOOO important, to slow down and look for the people I can help.
If twenty minutes, 4 years ago, with a stranger has stuck with me as this much of a gift, what can I do for the people in my daily life? What can I do to help spread love and joy? Who can I make time for today? These are the questions that should always be on my mind. When they are, not only am I happier, but the world around me is a little better off.