Speak to any traveller and he or she is likely to have some amazing stories to tell. From hitch-hiking to pitching a tent on the side of the road, to seeing beautiful places that make time stand still, to meeting wonderful people from every corner of the globe; the list of stories that a traveller will share with you if you are willing to connect and listen is endless.
With that in mind, today I wanted to share a story from the road. An experience from my time in New Zealand. An experience that will remain with me forever. An experience that serves as a reminder of the beauty of the human spirit.
We (Myself (South African)), Dan (German), Joanna (Australian) and Maggie(French), had just returned to New Zealand following a two week trip to Samoa.
After spending a few nights in Auckland, Maggie and I made our way to Coromandel, from Auckland, via cruise ship, before departing to Whitianga (main settlement of Mercury Bay on the North Island of New Zealand).
This truly is a beautiful part of the world; From the Hot Water Beach (specific part of the beach where people gather to dig and discover hot water springs) to Cathedral Cove, which is a naturally formed archway on the beach and arguably one of the most picturesque spots along the Coromandel Peninsula.
Upon arriving in Whitianga, we checked into the local backpackers for a couple of nights, before going for a stroll on the beach.
Before long, we stumbled upon a man who was fishing. We stopped to watch. “Have you caught anything today?” With that question as a conversation ice-breaker, we started chatting. We learned about his life on the Yachts as a Captain, sailing all over the world, from Gibraltar to the Caribbean.
The conversation quickly veered towards discussions about Rugby. Only naturally, of course, South Africans and Kiwis are rugby mad and two of the most successful rugby nations of all time. In addition, this is arguably the biggest test match to watch for any rugby connoisseur. I’m sure there are some of you who have no clue what I am talking about so we will move on 🙂
After a good period of time, it was time to say our goodbyes. Having not formally introduced ourselves at the beginning (great how you can chat to a stranger and not even know his name), we did so. The man introduced himself as Joe. And just before we left Joe asked us how long we were here for and where we were staying. We told him we were here for a few days and that we were staying at a local backpackers, just up the road.
And then Joe said something, which was totally unexpected. Bear in mind, we had just met Joe.
“You are more than welcome to stay at our place for a few days”. He left us his number. Needless to say, this is something that we could not stop talking about on our way back ‘home’.
Again, a person we had just met had made that offer!
With the enormity of this gesture still lingering in our minds, we decided to have a meal and some wine.
Towards the end of the next day we decided, ‘Heck, why not, let’s give Joe a call. It’s not like we have anything to lose.’
The offer still stood.
He welcomed us into his home with open arms. He was living with his wife and two children. They offered up a bed, cooked us meals and even allowed us to use their car to explore the area and see the sights.
He was willing to open up his home and his family to us. He was willing to lend his car to two total strangers that he just met. He was willing to trust us totally, based purely on his judgement of our character in that short meeting on the beach on the previous day.
The absolute trust and kindness of the family touched us deeply. It was an act of pure generosity. An act that we will remember for a long time.
It is in such times when we are reminded of the magic of human connection and the beauty of the human spirit.
Do you have a story to share about a random act of kindness? How did it make you feel?