We all have our Machu Picchu moments – being in awe of an ancient civilization, snapping what feels like a million photos, grasping to find the right words to describe what’s in front of you, soaking in every bit of that experience you possibly can.
Those moments are amazing and often times necessary when visiting a place. But is it the only thing that you’ll take away from your trip? What about all those fun and spontaneous moments that happen before and after you’ve accomplished your main travel goal?
Those moments when a child gives you the best hug ever after a long journey, when you strike up a great conversation with a random stranger while waiting in line at the airport immigration counter, when you get helped with your bag after struggling with it, when you clearly need directions and someone helps you out.
I like to call those moments the “magical little moments”.
I was fortunate enough to have experienced such wonderful moments on my trip through Peru, England and Italy.
And just what were those moments? Well, I remember…
…when a lovely lady joined me at the local coffee shop in Frome. We ended up talking about her day out and how she was waiting for her bus home. Imagine my surprise when we bumped into each other again a couple of days later; and she was waiting for the same bus home again. Cue laughs and more updates.
…when I had a lovely lunch by the river at Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds with my cousin. The grounds were beautiful and we couldn’t help but enjoy what nature had to offer. Some poor ducks were expecting food from us, but all I had were crisps. They quacked disapprovingly and swam off. Oh dear.
…when my Workaway host gave me a pretty card signed by everyone in the family. What was most precious is the drawing by her sweet 4 year-old. They opened their homes and their hearts to me and I’ll always be grateful for their kindness.
…when my host in Glastonbury shared her homemade cake and green juice with me. She makes delicious raw food and cakes that are painstakingly made, but made with a lot of heart.
…when I had a lovely conversation about life, yoga and the Universe with said host’s boyfriend. He was warm and full of life, and had a love for yoga that was inspiring. It’s definitely something to aspire to.
…when a lovely lady helped me with my bag on my way up the platform of Clapham Junction, London. I looked like a backpack sandwich (as I call it) and was so tired by the time I got there. As I rested a bit before I pulled myself together, a lady came by and offered to help with my bag. She was surprised with the amount of bags I was carrying and obviously felt bad for me. I thanked her profusely, but honestly all I wanted to do was give her a nice big hug!
…when another lady was lovely enough to make room for me and my bags on the rush hour train from Whitton. She said “When I saw you with all those bags, I knew you’d be quite popular this morning!”. A nice conversation with her made me forget about how packed the train was. Another lady I wish I could’ve hugged.
…when I spent some time in the woods with my cousin’s daughters. We climbed trees, took photos, posed up a storm, ate yummy snacks, chased away some butterflies (not on purpose) and had a jolly old time getting to know each other and laughing about.
…when a lady in crutches asked if she and a friend could share a table with me in a coffee shop in Liverpool. We ended up chatting about travelling, how they became friends through a physical therapy group and how positivity (and a good laugh) kept them going through their difficult times.
…when my host’s father invited me in to the family shop for a cup of delicious homemade Indian chai and snacks. He told me about how life was for him coming from Pakistan 20-odd years ago to start a new life in Liverpool. He made me feel like I was family and I can never thank him enough for that.
…when a mother and son helped me find my host’s home when I was utterly lost in Cuzco. The son didn’t speak a word of English but was absolutely patient with me (and my rotten Spanish) and ran to get his mother. Thankfully, they helped me get another taxi and I managed to find my place. I’m so very grateful to them.
…when I had the most amazing conversations every night with my lovely hosts in Florence, talking about everything from politics and parents to baking! Two beautiful souls that will make you believe in love again.
…when my host in Twickenham treated me with absolute kindness, offering me the kind of rest and respite I needed after a long flight and subsequent Heathrow immigration interrogation episode. A kind soul I loved so much that I stayed with her once more before I left England.
And so, the list goes on.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my adventures, it is that people are inherently kind – there truly is so much kindness in this world. A fact that is easily forgotten in these often troubled times.
We get bombarded with warnings by governments, parents, friends alike about certain people and certain countries. My advice – take those warnings with a pinch of salt. Always. Do your own research and talk to people who have actually been there.
Discover this world on your own and get to know the people around you. Talk to them. Share meals together. Dance along with them. Thank them. Drink coffee with them. Help them with their bags!
When you become more aware of these magical little moments, they will end up enriching your travel memories more than you can imagine. And I dare say, you will become a better person for it.