I was out to dinner with some friends and this story was told to me by a man who grew up in Guatemala, but now lives and works in the United States. He travels to Guatemala a few times a year to visit his family, and on one trip he had plans to vacation in neighboring Belize with his wife. I was telling him why I love to travel so much and why I love a good travel story. He related this short story to me and later I asked him to dictate it (and include a picture) so I could share it here. Thanks so much Nick!
"It was December, and I was traveling from Flores airport in Guatemala to Belize City. Forty people met at 7 a.m. to take a bus ride 100 miles across the border on difficult roads. The trip was estimated to take 3-4 hours.
The bus ride included a stop at a nice restaurant about halfway to our destination in Belize. The bus was filled with many tourists from around the world speaking English, German, and French. No one spoke to each other, and no one spoke Spanish either. The tourists assumed I didn't speak English, so it was fun listening in on their conversations!
After we were on the road for a few hours, the bus broke down before we ever reached the restaurant. My wife and I were the only Spanish speaking people on the bus. The bus driver communicated that there was something wrong with a pump and we all needed to get off the bus and wait for another to come in a few hours.
Everyone was complaining about the situation as they unloaded their luggage to wait on the side of the road. As we sat waiting, everyone was saying how they were hungry. I always travel with snacks so I had planned ahead. I had extra water bottles, so I handed them out to a few people around me who had nothing to eat. Others began sharing what little they had of their snack food too. Soon everyone began talking to each other in broken English and asking each other where they were from and where they were going.
"Oh, you're going to the same resort?"
"Are you going scuba diving? Us too!"
During the two hours we waited, we all became friends, laughing, sharing stories, and making jokes with each other. When the new bus arrived to take us to the border, everyone was helping each other load their luggage.
At the border we had to switch buses again and there was a wait time. One bus rider noticed a small shack down the street where a local woman was selling food and serving it in palm leaves. He shouted, "Hey is anyone hungry?"
We all walked over to the woman's shack where she had already cooked chicken, rice, and beans, but hurried into her tiny kitchen to make more for everyone.
We boarded our final bus with full bellies in the late afternoon, everyone nodding off on the way to Belize City after so much waiting. When we arrived, the sun was setting, and we noticed most of the people who were on the bus hopped on the same ferry to take us to the same resort!
During our vacation at the resort in Belize, we saw and ate with the same people we had ridden to town with on the bus. We even went scuba diving as a group!
This experience was just proof that no matter your nationality or language, human kindness exists in every person."
Thanks for the story Nick! Have you had a similar experience where you bonded with strangers on a trip and became friends? Or have you learned a lesson about human kindness while traveling the world? Share your stories here! Submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org.