Kindness of Strangers Around the World

Traveling solo I often wind up in neighborhoods where there are no other tourists when I’m traveling simply because that is where some of the art museums happen to be located. As a solo traveler I must rely on my own navigational abilities but I often seek assistance from strangers.

When I was in Medellin, Colombia I visited the Casa Museo Pedro Nel Gomez in the Aranjuez neighborhood. I was definitely the only tourist walking along the street and I did feel a little uncomfortable at first, it just seemed a bit dodgy.

I kept walking for a while until I was not sure if I was lost or not and I passed someone on the sidewalk, pointing up the road I would ask “Museo Gomez?” and each time the person smiled warmly and assured me that I was on the right track.

I felt more comfortable in the neighborhood simply because I had interacted with some of the people along the way. I saw kindness in their faces.

With everyone’s help I found my way to the museum and spent the afternoon taking in the extraordinary collection of work by Colombian artist Pedro Nel Gomez.

Medellin Colombia - Museo Pedro Nel Gomez - Painting

Painting at Museo Pedro Nel Gomez in Medellin Colombia

Time and again during my travels I have been warmly welcomed by strangers, helped with directions, sometimes even before I knew I was lost.

I remember standing on a train platform in Paris with my sister. We were trying to figure out if we were on the correct platform or not when a Parisian man passing by informed us that the train to Brussels was in fact the adjacent platform. He saved us from missing our train.

I probably never would have discovered the wonders of SCUBA diving if not for the kindness of strangers. I had gone snorkeling off the coast of Bali with a group of divers and afterwards I was chatting with some of them. They asked why I hadn’t gone diving instead of snorkeling. I explained my fear of diving and my fear that I would become very claustrophobic while under water.

“Well try it now!” offered one of them as he motioned towards the water and then enthusiastically explained that I could put on his gear and check it out to see if I would be claustrophobic. Sure!

He explained the basics and helped me to put on the gear, which felt a little awkward while on land but once I waded into the water it was all fine as I became weightless.

Breathing underwater is a bizarre sensation. My brain knows I can’t breathe while submerged under water but I was breathing and I was underwater.

It was euphoric!

Later in my travels to Thailand I spent three weeks on the island of Koh Tao and received my PADI open water diver certification. I wouldn’t have done it without the kindness of the diver in Bali allowing me to try out his gear.

Koh Tao Island - SCUBA diving location in Thailand

I spent three weeks as a beach bum at Koh Tao Island SCUBA diving and earned my PADI certification

When I was in Indonesia I became ill after eating a chicken salad sandwich for lunch one day. I should have stuck with the local food, some nasi goreng (fried rice dish) or bakso (soup) would have been a wiser choice. I was nursing a bad case of food poisoning instead.

For a couple of days I couldn’t hold any food down and I was thoroughly exhausted. Sitting alone out on the veranda of the guesthouse in Padang Bai I must have looked truly pathetic.

No one came near me. I felt like crap. I’m sure I looked like crap too.

I am very grateful to the German woman who took notice and came to my rescue. She said I needed to get some salt into my body, to rehydrate and get my appetite back. She gave me a couple of little packets of chicken broth, one of which I prepared and happily drained the cup.

I felt better immediately, not just for the basic nourishment but also for the kindness of the woman who took notice and helped me out.

I will always remember these acts of kindness from strangers.

A journey through the alphabet with ABC Wednesday Project where people from around the world create a weekly post – landing on the letter K this week.

One of the things I have found I could rely on while traveling solo is the kindness of strangers. Have you had similar experiences?

 

About the Author

Susan Moore's first solo travel experience was traveling around SE Asia for 7 months in 1993. It was life changing and extraordinary. Currently Susan is living a nomadic life, working and roadtripping around the USA and Canada. You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter

10 Comments

Trackback  •  Comments RSS

  1. Very inspiring and made me think what good I have done to strangers myself. XD Venturing out into an unfamiliar place, it is reassuring to know there are still a lot of good people out there always wanting to share and lend a hand.

    I am wary about strangers ( I probably watch too much tv! ), but to be honest I have received countless good deeds from people I do not know during my travels…Beautiful post. :)

    • Susan Moore says:

      Thank you! I also try to help out other people, especially travelers, whenever I can. What seems like a small deed can mean so much to someone who needs a little help.

      I am grateful for all the help I have received over the years. Glad to know you have had similar experiences both helping and receiving help from strangers.

  2. Reader Wil says:

    Wow, you are very adventurous! And brave too. When I was young I travelled a lot in Europe. I had no money so I hitch -hiked, but never by myself. Now I have a lot of guests from abroad, but they are no strangers, I met them before. I had a once a Maori woman from New Zealand staying for a couple of nights, some Australians, English friends, Danes, Norwegians, an American artist, a peace activist from Ukraine, who walked from Paris to Copenhagen, two relatives from South Africa and finally 4 Polish young people. It was always great to exchange ideas.
    Thanks for your interesting post
    Have great week.
    Wil,ABCW Team

    • Susan Moore says:

      Wil, Thanks for your comment. It’s wonderful that you get to see all those people from your previous travels – so great to have people from all around the world visiting and sharing stories.

      I think you were brave to hitchhike around Europe – I never had the guts to do that when I was younger and now I think it’s not really very common, nor recommended. I think of myself as being adventurous but not brave, just chronically optimistic :)

  3. Roger Green says:

    Such an unexpected gift.
    ROG, ABCW

  4. photowannabe says:

    I admire your adventurous spirit. the kindness of strangers truly goes right to ones soul.

  5. ellen b says:

    I have found kindness from strangers. I know people who are a lot better at seeking out that kindness than me but I’m learning more and more when I travel to reach out to people around us and enjoy more than the sights…

    • Susan Moore says:

      Very often we are reminded to be cautious when we travel and not to trust people but I really do find that for the most part everyone everywhere wants to do good.

  6. Ann says:

    Reminds me of what the Bible says about entertaining strangers–Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers for by doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
    Ann

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top