During the last, soon to be 6 years of international home and pet sitting (mostly full time),I have had encounters with people, strangers, that somehow just seem to show up and in a matter of minutes, one or two simple words or gestures cause an ever so meaningful shift in how you think, act and behave. You know how easily and quickly a person can “ruin” the day for you? But do we notice those that really make a bad experience better?
A few days ago I set out to “the next sit”. I knew the trip was going to be arduous, spanning over two nights, 8 hours flight time, 15 hour wait for an overnight 6 hour ride. This was not the intention when the agreement was made but things do and will happen to test your abilities. Those being, patience, determination, understanding, creativity and willingness to deal with it. Tough mental attitude? I really don’t know.
I had several cancellations that caused me to change flights and yes by golly, there was a discrepancy in dates of a sit,. All of us make mistakes. Transatlantic flight, wonderful as ever.
Now the wait begins. In Dr. Seus’ book, “Oh, the places you’ll go”, the main character travels through various colorful lands only to arrive at The Waiting Place. The place all travellers go to wait for the next thing to happen. So there I was.
In the next 15 hours I had three interesting conversations with strangers. One was curious about my travels and my long wait (terminal employee), another was conducting a survey and ended up sitting with me and we talked about Ayurveda, Travel to India, curries . The third was an elderly gentleman who asked I could help with English to assist him. Frederico is from Chile and he should be now recovering from a kidney transplant donated by his beautiful young daughter, who I also met. He was the most unassuming gentle man with a crooked smile and big shiny eyes. He was thin and clothes appeared well worn. I had taken him to be a poor man and was surprised when he told me he was an economics professor still teaching. He hugged me and gave me his blessings as they went on their way.
On the coach at last a young African man shared his story unprompted.
Arriving to my destination at 0530 in the dark and cold bitter wind, I was once again in the waiting room.
And then… part two coming up. Promise it’s the better half.
But first, what have you seen, experienced that was completely unexpected?
Standing in the dark with the cold bitter wind, I made effort to use my phone to get my bearings and decide what direction the next step would be. A woman, who had been on the coach with me was already quite a way ahead of me. She stopped and walked back to me. I was struggling and she offered to help, either with directions or walking with me till I reached a better place to wait. Due to the the series of events, I had booked a bed and breakfast that was not yet open and was too far to walk. I thanked her and with her direction arrived at a supermarket. Closed for two more hours!
I’d like to say that I was brave and tough. I acted it but inside I was mortified and I was freezing. During that wait, I saw two others, a store employee who couldn’t or wouldn’t see me and a man who was on his way home after some beverages. He came right up to me, asked me my name and what I was doing Annie is waiting for her ride
In the store, they called me a taxi. B&B still closed, I felt done.
The side door opens. The man looks at my big case. Normally I travel very light but this time I literally had a kitchen faucet. Not the sink mind you but a massive fancy pull down monster I was asked to bring for friends. Explaining to the man the situation and that I did have a reservation. He let me in, took my case, sat me in a booth by the fireplace and brought me caffe latte and biscuits.
Finally, I cried.
Tears of gratitude.
My sit and Hosts are lovely.
Each and everyone of us has a story. We have unique experiences when we travel and come into the homes of strangers who sometimes become friends, some you may even want to carry a faucet across 3 continents for. Some will be there when you least expect it and some you may never know their names.
I am a storyteller. I enjoy writing and talking about the wonders Of home and pet sitting beyond the basics.