Traveling and living in different parts of the world have provided a lot to learn about life. I have been lucky to meet people from all walks of life and to establish working relationships with folks in education, health services, work force development, and more. Many of these colleagues are still close friends today. Once you start to work in different countries, it becomes difficult to stop. I am always on the lookout for another opportunity, another country, another assignment, not only to contribute, but to learn.
An unexpected but notable part of these experiences is events where people I didn’t even know made kind gestures and provided generous assistance. Once, in Nepal, the road narrowed unexpectedly and I found myself stuck in a rice paddy. Within seconds a truck full of farm workers had stopped. Six men jumped out and literally lifted my car out of the muck and mud so I could get enough traction to keep driving. In Tbilisi, Georgia, families have invited my husband and me for ‘Supras’ when they barely knew us. Their hospitality and generosity were replete with food, drink, stories, singing, and playing instruments. Once, for some reason, the lock to our apartment door became inoperable and I could not get in. I called the landlord, who couldn’t come right away, so he sent his sister from upstairs in the building to invite me to wait in their apartment. His mother and sister sat me down, provided champagne and chocolates and began to sing opera. Well his sister sang while her mother accompanied her on the piano. When I left an hour or so later, not only was there a new lock on the door, but they gave me a basket of fruit.
While I was working in Rajasthan, India, in a communication training for health workers, a young woman attending the three week session suggested I arrange for a camel safari, famous in Rajasthan. Since my husband was going to join me from Nepal for a week’s long vacation after the workshop, I decided to surprise him with the booked safari. She took me to downtown Jaipur to make plans for it at a travel agency. It was there that I hired a driver and booked the hotels where we would stay along our tour. Once my husband arrived and the workshop was over we started our vacation. We met our driver early on the first morning and took off. He was the nicest person, always on time, drove carefully, and had a good sense of humor. From Jaipur we headed to Jodpur, then on to Udaipur, Jaisalmer, and finally back to New Delhi. The one day camel safari was to occur on the third day, in Udaipur. The drive to Udaipur, which is in the southeast part of Rajasthan, was long and the highway and landscape were desolate for long stretches as well. Our booking for that evening was at the Taj Lake Palace. Udaipur is known for its sunsets, among other things, and I had been told by the travel agency that the sunset from this Palace, which was situated on the water, was one of the most spectacular to be seen. An early start that day was therefore important for reaching our destination on time. Around two o’clock we passed another taxi along the way. There were two people in the back. It was the first car we’d seen for hours. Our driver became excited and honked at the other driver. They waved excitedly. He told us he was an old friend that he had not seen in several years. They were obviously headed in the same direction. About a half hour later our car began to cough and sputter. Our driver could not make it go more than 20 miles an hour. Of course we were distressed for a couple of reasons: making it to the Palace on time and whether we’d be able to continue the trip at all. Within some 10 minutes, the taxi we’d passed previously passed us. Our driver honked again and flashed his lights, and we both pulled onto the shoulder. They talked for a few minutes. The couple in the other car were British and we chatted while the drivers decided what to do. The first idea was to tow our car, which we did, with my husband and me in the forward vehicle to lessen the weight of the towed car. After a few minutes it was evident that this was going to be too slow. The drivers talked again and it was decided to leave our car and the two of them would make arrangements to come back for it after we were dropped off. The other couple were staying at a different hotel, and naturally wanted to make it on time, too, though they had been quite understanding in helping us. We had a fun and funny discussion on the way. Our driver assured us that he would he would meet us the day after tomorrow with the car repaired and we would continue on as planned, which worked out nicely, since the next day we were going to tour the area around Udaipur on camels and planned to see the sunset from another viewpoint.
Through all of these unexpected events and responses, we made it, literally in the nick of time, to watch what was truly one of, if not, the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. Our driver joined us the day after, as promised, and we headed on to Jaisalmer to continue our vacation after a very interesting day on camels. Mine was named Daisy.
These tranches de vie are such a big part of how the people who you don’t know make the travels work. The joy of engaging and learning from new acquaintances is my favorite part of traveling, even beyond the new sights. It’s what keeps me moving on.
We’ll continue to add to these reflections, and new experiences in the blog. Have a great day and a new experience!