My first ever solo travel took me to Denmark. I had a working holiday and spent about a week picking strawberries on a small island (omg, it was so cold in the morning that I got a bladder infection!). I was out of my depth and initially wanted to run home. I didn’t and ended up having a good time. When it was time to leave, this very friendly Portugese guy carried my full pack all the way to the bus stop, which was about an hour away on foot. We kept in touch for a couple of years after that. I wonder how he’s doing…
The first time I travelled to Australia, I managed to lose my wallet in Sydney. A city with millions of people, of all places! I’d taken a special ‘beach bus’ and somewhere along that trip it must have slipped out of my pocket. I was so stressed and immediately called the lost and found of the bus company. Not long after, I received a phonecall, but I was too stressed to answer the phone. Completely bummed out I headed back to the start point of the bus at Circular Quay. I approached a group of bus drivers and asked if they’d found a wallet. ‘Of course, here it is! We called you, but there was no answer. No worries, mate!’
The first time I travelled to New Zealand I’d bought a van with a guy and we travelled around. It’s easy to camp just about anywhere, so we picked a not so ideal spot by the side of a road in the Hawke’s Bay area. A guy pulled up. If we had any problems. Nope, we were just spending the night there. ‘Ah, that’s not a good spot. Better come with me and you can stay in my paddock. Much better to stay there. And after you’ve settled in, come up for a cuppa.’ The guy was Dutch and moved to New Zealand eight years before. After we’d settled in our camping spot, the landowner, an emigrated German, invited us over for a drink. In his house we met his Kiwi wife. In the evening they joined us for a cuppa at the Dutch family’s house on top of the hill with a beautiful view.
On that same first trip to New Zealand, and after travelmate and I went our separate ways, at some point I ended up in Queenstown. A group of travellers were watching tv (The 4400, I’ll never forget) and I joined in. I ended up having a nice conservation with a British couple that moved to New Zealand some time before. They were so nice! ‘If you’re in Auckland, let us know and you can stay with us’. At first I wasn’t so sure. I mean, they were friendly, but Dutch people are a bit weird when it comes to accepting an invitation like that. But I did. I flew from Christchurch to Auckland and they picked me up from the airport. I spent about a week at their place and had a great time! We went to the Waitakere Ranges and some other places. Two years ago, I went to New Zealand for the second time. Eight years had passed, so I was nervous about contacting these wonderful people, who’d since then moved to the Bay of Plenty. They picked me up from the bus with open arms and big hugs. Ok, I guess they aren’t strangers anymore 😉
Whenever the world is grim and I think there are only bad people around, I’d like to think about the kindness of these strangers and how they’ve touched my life.