Tuesday, October 9, 2012

And the World Smiled Back

So several weeks ago, my good pal Virginia and I were on a noontime walk and I shared my internal angst about our upcoming travel plans. I explained: To pull this itinerary off, we have planned seven airplane rides, about 1500+ rail miles, many bus and cab rides, and maybe even a vaporetto - that's a lot of dependence on people doing their jobs! She reminded me that every day, even on a typical work day, we count on others to do their jobs. Maybe that doesn't seem profound to you, but it kept me chill on several occasions. Last Monday, for instance. About 1/2 thru our trip, we were railing from Rome to Siena. We had heard murmurs of a nationwide transit strike but were reassured along the way. We had to transfer trains in a smallish town - Grosetto Italy. We had a 40 min layover and we bought waters and cookies. The train was due soon when suddenly, an announcement (only in Italian) that all transit service had stopped for the day - they decided to strike. After much debate about what the announcement said - and also what a distraught Italian woman standing nearby on the platform was saying to us - we followed her gestures and went inside the station and joined a line of tired travelers at the ticketing office. Soon, this woman broke from the line and hurriedly motioned us to join her - Trenitalia had sent a small bus. Okay, we sighed relief...while we didn't know what tomorrow held, we were happy that we had a satisfactory new plan for our destination tonight. We boarded the bus, about 25 of us. We verified: Siena? Shawn purposely sat us near the kind woman. We left Grosetto and soon saw a road sign: Siena 40 km - yay, we thought. More and more passengers were getting dropped off and we were 6 strong, including the bus driver. Then, another road sign: Siena 60 km. What? And the sun was going down. We were traveling the north country and while it was indeed beautiful, Shawn and I shared more than one apprehensive glance. I motioned to the kind lady who knew no English - pointing to my wrist - and she said something to the bus driver who told us in perfect English we would be in Siena within the hour - and we were. We said goodbye to the kind and patient woman and driver. And the trip to that beautiful town was well worth the confusion and delay. While the rail workers didn't "do their jobs" that night - others did, and their kind iassistance was not lost on us. (I didn't write about this adventure en route for obvious reasons). Our trip of a lifetime is over - many people smiled on us and helped us find our way. The kindness of strangers is a beautiful thing and it makes me more confident than ever that traveling feeds the soul.

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