30 September 2007

The kindness of strangers

There's a certain freedom in traveling in the company of strangers. I think that in this culture of fear we are overly cautious about the people around us. And though I may give my mom some anxiety I keep opening my doors to those around me. I've been part of the Couchsurfing movement for quite some time. Maybe two years ago I had my first couchsurfer come crash at my place. She was a quiet girl trying to escape some job problems. She only spent one night and I barely noticed she was there but it felt good to open my home to her and provide a place to stay for free.

When Hewy and I went to Savannah we decided that even though we have connections for a free place we would give couchsurfing a try. Having only hosted people, I was a little unsure about my first experience staying with someone else. But we found our selves in a cozy little home on the southside that had plenty of charm and Cindy was the best host. It was a great experience and I encourage everyone to let their guard down on occasion and give it a try.

Of course, couchsurfing isn't the only way that you can interact with the people around you. When I stayed at the Everglades Hostel I met a nice woman from Austria. She had taken the greyhound from New York and wanted to see South Florida but she didn't have a car. She was at the mercy of the road and I found that quite intriguing. I am known to over plan my trips and sometimes be a little crazy about sticking to schedules but meeting people like Michele has taught me that I need to slow down and just go along for the ride. So the next day I invited her to join me at Everglades National Park. We spent the whole morning hiking the trails and I provided her with some natural history of the wildlife. After lunch we said goodbyes and though it was a brief encounter, it's something that will stay with me for quite some time.

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