August Book Review – The Kindness of Strangers

A few months ago I received a care package from my sweet, sweet cousin Rhyan. In it was a card with the loveliest words on it, and this book: The Kindness of Strangers.

Rhyan and I come from a large southern family, and since we are similar in age (and because we’re awesome) we just always found ourselves together. I have fond memories of her as a child, and last year, wanted to make some adult memories with her, so I booked a flight out to Seattle to see her, her now husband, and her sister Jesse. We spent our days talking of life, hiking and eating. It was this perfect little weekend that I will always treasure. She is someone who I have always looked up to. I am in awe of her love of life and others. And consider it a blessing to know her.

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The Kindness of Strangers is a collection of travel stories from people who encountered, well, the kindness of strangers. The preface is given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. And the book reminds us of two truths when traveling: “one is that at some point when you travel, you will find yourself in a predicament. And the second is that someone will miraculously emerge to take care of you. Whatever the situation, dramatic or mundane, some stranger will save you.”

While reading this book, one particular travel moment came to mind for me. While traveling Spain with my dear friend, Kristen, we ended up stranded in Seville. We hadn’t booked any reservations at hotels because, well, we just thought we could show up. Her boyfriend, now husband Andy, if I remember correctly, told us that we should plan these types of things and not just wing it. But, for this trip, we were winging it kinda girls.

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We show up in Seville and are surrounded by people. Everywhere. Dressed in black. With AC/DC on their shirts. And AC/DC posters throughout the city. Restaurants are packed. No vacancy at any hotel, hostel, motel or town nearby.

I remember sitting at a table with her, utterly confused as to why our travel plans were being thwarted by an AC/DC concert. I can’t remember the details because it’s been so long (and the sangria) but I do remember asking the waiter if he knew of a place. He scribbled the name of a hotel his friends worked at on a napkin. Although the hotel didn’t have room, because we were now friends with the waiter, the guy behind the desk made a few phone calls to some of his friends, and somehow, in a city where there was “no room at the inn” we found a place. Thanks to the kindness of a few strangers.

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Once the room was secured, Kristen and I were able to roll our eyes at the events of the day. And today, you may even hear us laugh about it. But c’mon, AC/DC selling out shows and hotel rooms in 2010?!

What about you? Have you experienced the kindness of a stranger while traveling?

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