Imagine carrying your heavy rucksack for many days without a shower or a proper shelter (something that stands better against strong winds and rain than a tent). You smell bad, are tired and can’t be bothered walking any more even though you must because there is no place to stay for the night. You are walking on a what feels like a never-ending road thinking “What on earth are we doing now?”…
On two occasions recently, we were blown away with how friendly and amazingly welcoming people can be to total strangers.
1. When (in the middle of nowhere) we asked a family if they had a piece of land that we could pitch our tent on after a long day of walking; we ended up camping in their garden next to Heidi the goat. The family invited us for a swim at the local schools’ swimming pool where we had a jumping competition to entertain the kids. The mother went even further for us and arranged a ride for us to the next town and a place for us to sleep at her parents’ home. We were treated to a nice cooked dinner at the parents and became friends with their dog, Snoffalofagus, while watching New Zealand lose against Fiji at rugby on TV. When leaving the next morning, we were given a cider each, some sandwiches for the trip and their address if we ever were passing their town again. We went from asking for a small piece of land for the night, to being well looked after by a very nice family for two nights.
2. After sleeping in the tent through a night of rain, we were on the road again. Low in energy we stopped walking in a tiny village that we can’t even remember the name of. Wet and smelly we were wondering if anyone would ever pick us up. But then it happened, German-born Cornelia and her daughter Maria, stopped for us on their way home after shopping for shoes. The plan was to get dropped off in the next town but when Cornelia invited us for dinner -even though we smelt like two wet dogs – we couldn’t say no. The house was so warm and cosy. Seeing all the furniture and decorations reminded us of our own homes in Europe. Every day we packed and got ready to leave but Cornelia, the friendliest soul we have ever met, insisted that we were staying at theirs until the weather got better. The family, which also included father, Stuart, let us stay at their house for the total of (read next number with astonishment) FOUR nights in a row. Listening to Stuart playing on his piano or giving a short history lesson while smelling some food being cooked in the kitchen was just so relaxing. It was probably the first time, if only for a second, we dreamt about going home. The family made us feel so welcome and we can’t thank them enough for all the things they did for us during these days.