Don't miss out on the first tale from Kosovo to restore your faith in humanity!
Saved from the dogs!
I was insufficiently exhausted to not worry about the many people who could see me, and my barely suitable camp spot, but too exhausted to find somewhere better. As in part 1, I was a little apprehensive as two teenagers approached. Once again, I shouldn’t have been, as the two 17 year olds restored my faith in humanity inviting me to a nearby café where they insisted on buying me a coke and a salad. With a sudden flurry of gnashing teeth, barking and snarling, they told me I probably shouldn’t camp there, because of wild dogs. I lied, saying I’d be okay (apparently even being mauled by dogs was an insufficient incentive to make me move!), but they were adamant, I should pedal 20km to the next town, and get a cheap hotel. I was too tired to cycle that far, so they offered to drive me and my bike, but that wasn’t an attractive option – I needed to cycle it.
Suddenly, somehow, the whole café, and then the whole town was a hive of activity, as people ran around searching for somewhere I could stay. Everyone grouped together in the centre discussing places that were suitable for me, while I sat meekly in the corner, slowly making my way through my salad, guilty to have caused such a fuss. I was led around the corner, into a metal scrapyard – I’m not sure who was more confused; me, or the 4 guys who had just welcomed the foreigner led in by a procession of their entire town! Within minutes, I was led somewhere else, and sat down for a huge meal in a restaurant. By this point I had no idea where my bike, or any of my stuff was, or what had happened in the past 45 minutes since I laid down in a field.
When I got back, after a huge meal, my bike was still there (bonus!) and I was shown to an office, where I was told I could sleep. They were just finishing mopping the floors, and polishing the tables, which I told them wasn’t at all necessary – I could not be more grateful. They were completely trusting, handing me their keys, and leaving me alone in their office for the night.
The next morning I awoke to cheering, and was told they’d like me to stay for another week, or longer. I stayed another 2 days, over which time I was treated like a king, whisked around being shown the area, and being fed more than I could eat – anyone who knows me may be sceptical about this, but really, it’s true!
When it eventually came time to leave, it felt like leaving family; and they seemed as devastated to see me go, as I was to be leaving. In one final show of generosity, they took me to the shops and told me they’d like to buy as much food for me for the journey ahead as possible. Not wanting to abuse their generosity, it went a little like this; I put one piece of bread, into the basket, Blend, who I was with, added another 2. I put in the smallest 100 gram jar of Nutella, Blend took it out and added the monster 1kg jar. I eventually left, after difficult goodbyes with food crammed in all 5 of my bags, and strapped down with bungee cords, enough food to feed me for nearly 5 days!
These kind of experiences have really given me a lot to think about, and I hope, my account of them has the same effect on you, and at least restored your faith in humanity. I spoke to one of these people about how I could never repay them, the chances of them coming to England being extremely slim. Their instant reply blew me away – “you repay me by extending the same kindness to those people you meet in your country.” Wow – is that not the definition of unconditional giving, not expecting to get anything in return?
I can’t help but wonder, maybe with a pinch of sadness, what sort of a reaction these people would receive in England (or any other western country)? It has definitely appeared to me that wealth, and generosity are disproportionately related. The people I’m receiving such kindness from are not rich, just normal people, working hard everyday to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. It is easy to think of the western countries as more ‘developed’, but in reality, we still have a lot to learn.
Be the change you want to see in the world - Mahatma Gandhi