Travel brings power and love back into your life.
Few things have been more life-changing for my husband and me than travel. Much of who we are and what we value today is because of the experiences we had while traveling. It’s filled our lives with meaning and connection. And at times, it’s even restored our faith in humanity.
Dealing with people in our day to day lives can be challenging at times. There’s the guy at the office who knocks everyone down in an attempt to get ahead. There’s the lineup of drivers who won’t let you merge into traffic on your way to work in the morning. Let’s not forget the thief who’s been stealing the neighborhood Amazon deliveries. I think we all have days when it feels like humanity is going to that proverbial hell in a handbasket.
Then there are the times that we’re reminded that almost every human being has goodness at their core. One of the best ways to experience this goodness is through travel. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been in awe at the kindness of strangers. We’ve been blessed to have a plethora of beautiful and humbling travel experiences.
One of our most memorable experiences connecting with people was in the heart of Central America. The people of Nicaragua left a mark on our hearts with their kindness and generosity. They went out of their way to ensure that we were safe, satisfied, and happy. It was in Nicaragua that we learned that the true beauty of a place is reflected in the hearts of its people.
Lessons Learned on a School Bus
One of the most notable lessons was learned during a bus trip from Granada to San Jorge. If you haven’t had the opportunity to ride the busses in Latin America, please add this to your bucket list. While we tend to rent cars these days, bus rides with the locals … and their chickens and goats, will always hold a special place in my heart.
San Jorge is a small city nestled on the western shore of Lake Nicaragua. It’s a popular spot for travelers to catch ferries to Isla Ometepe. To get there we hopped on a retired US school bus for a 44 mile, three-hour journey.
We quietly observed passengers come and go throughout the hot, long, bumpy ride. The bus was packed with some of the most interesting characters I’ve ever seen. Many of them seemed to know each other.
Other people stuck to themselves like the young man with his neck covered in tattoos and a teardrop tattooed under his eye. He had a muscular build and commanding demeanor. We discussed it later that evening and both Jer and I felt intimidated.
As we pulled into San Jorge the bus came to a stop. I asked the old man in front of me if this was the stop for the port. He told me, “not yet,” and got off the bus. We sat there, confused, as the bus made stops throughout the town, not quite sure where we needed to get off.
Then at one of the stops, the young man with the neck tattoos came back to where we were seated. He asked if we were looking for the port. I confirmed that we were. He told us “this is the stop,” then proceeded to help us off the bus and offered directions to the ferry.
Nothing Goes Exactly As Planned
The first story was about our journey to Isla Ometepe. This story is about trying to get off the island.
Everything was perfectly planned. We got up early, checked out of our hotel, and caught a taxi into town to take the nine a.m. ferry. From San Jorge, we were planning to take the bus to San Juan del Sur. There we would have our clothes laundered, get lunch, and buy groceries. In the afternoon, we would catch a
We arrived at the port shortly after eight a.m., just as scheduled, and purchased our tickets. We waited on the dock for the ferry, eager to explore our next destination. We waited. And waited. Several hours later we got word that the ferries were stuck in San Jorge due to high winds.
Later that afternoon they decided to send one ferry across. Judging by the broken glass on the vehicles that came over, they probably shouldn’t have. We made it back to San Jorge, but by the time we got there, the buses were no longer running.
We were starting to stress out. We had already paid for our beach house and had no way to get in touch with them. I was starting to think that the best choice would be to wander into town, find a place to stay, and catch a bus first thing in the morning.
As we stood there discussing our next move, a young cab driver came up and asked if we needed a ride into town. I told him that we were trying to get to Playa el Coco. He told me that wouldn’t be possible because it was two hours away and the buses were no longer running. I thanked him anyway and he turned to walk away.
Moments later, he came back and said, “I’ll take you.” I asked if he was sure and he said, “I have to. There’s no other way to get there.” We agreed on a very fair price and hopped in his old but perfectly maintained Toyota.
The beach house was far away from the nearest town and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast. We needed to get groceries or we wouldn’t be able to eat until sometime the next day. So I asked if he would stop at a store on the way.
He agreed and brought us to the one store that was open that late in the evening. We quickly shopped for five day’s worth of food and drinks (we were in serious need of some Flor de Cana by this point). Our only option was to have faith that the driver who brought us this far wasn’t going to leave us stranded in southern Nicaragua and take off with our luggage.
Thanks to a kind, generous, and trustworthy young man, we made it our destination five minutes before the rental office closed for the evening.
We learned to not be afraid to ask for help when we most needed it. We learned to be open to accepting kindness from strangers. And we learned to trust that most people just want to help you,
These two stories are just a sliver of the amazing kindness we’ve experienced while traveling. The good news is that you don’t need to travel 3,333 miles to experience meaningful connections.
Here are a few things you can try today.
- Slow down and let people merge or take your place in line at the grocery store.
- Smile and say hello to strangers as you walk down the street.
- Send an unexpected gift to a friend who’s been having a hard time.
- Give a $100 bill to the barista to pay for the next $100 worth of coffee orders.
Tell me about a time that you’ve been saved by the kindness of a stranger. You can share in the comments below or come say “hi” on Facebook.