01.10.2014 - 12.05.2015 85 °F
"Take me to Portugal
take me to Spain.
Take me, Spanish Caravan.
Yes I know you can." -The Doors
The Spanish bus (ALSA) carries us through Spanish lands. Past hills and mountains past gorse strewn highways and past white homes and small towns that appear out of nowhere.
Our bus driver, I've decided, is a knight driving the shining armor bus guiding us to our next destination like the Knights Templar of old who used to guide pilgrims to the Holy Land. Bus drivers, airline pilots, boat captains, and those orange clad sentinels standing at the train platforms making sure you are getting on the correct train, are the knights of your travel dreams. They work to make sure you achieve your travel goals even though
they probably just consider it their 'job'. But in reality, without these people and all the others you come across who assist you in some way, are special types who help you along your path. I always say "thank you" to them in the most sincere way I can. I've decided to be more like them except without the expectation of being paid for it.
I remember the time we were strolling along the garden paths in front of the Lisbon Bullfighting ring named Campo Pequeno when I hear a sharp groan from an older woman who had just fallen hard nearby as if felled by an invisible bull. I rushed over and helped her up. As she brushed off the gravel from her hands, she kept saying, "Abrigado, abrigado", one of the few words I knew in Portuguese. She was okay and off she continued on her path of life. I was left with a strange feeling like I just pole vaulted for the world record in the Decathlon. There were other people around but I was the only one who cared enough to help this lady. For an instant, I expected the pole vault medal to be handed to me but then I thought how shallow and self-centered it was of me to think I deserved something for this act. Instead, I felt the need to retrain my mind to understand how I was really feeling and what I should expect from it.
I thought back to the other times I reached out to others on this trip offering some kind of help. In some cases, the help is rejected or unneeded. In others, people reached out to me and I was unable to help because I couldn't understand the language. The latter happened in nearly every country we visited where somebody would come up to me seeming to ask for direction to a station or town. From the expression in their face and eyes, I could tell they seemed a bit lost but I could only offer, " Nien sprechen sie deutsch" or "No Fahler Portuguese y Espanol". A few times, I was able to help those who were holding maps, but those were in English speaking countries.
Also, I help without really trying. When I walk by people waiting at a bus/train station, they begin to clutch their backpacks and handbags, more tightly. They are checking to see they have their important belongings and generally become more aware of their surroundings as if
I signal to them that those things should be done just now. "Good", I think to myself. These people should be reminded to watch their stuff because there are people out there trying to rip you off. I haven't met any yet and I hope they don't either because it would put the kibosh on their trip.
What a great job it would be to just help travelers get from place to another? Although they are paid, I am admiring more and more the station attendants who patrol the various train/plane/ship platforms like sentinels guarding the crossroads of everybody's travel Dreams.
They (and those like them) are offering help so we can continue our quest, continue our pilgrimage, seek our next unknown destination, fulfill our travel dreams. etc. etc.
What a wonderful way to go through life, to just be able to say everyday, "Let me help."