Come on in Stranger!


I recall so many great moments in my life, and many of them only happened because I trusted in the people around me and I trusted in myself. 

I heard the same warning over and over, “Be careful,” and I was careful, but I also let my intuition and my ability to judge situations guide me, especially when I traveled to foreign countries.

“Don’t mingle with the natives,” they often said and I never really understood. How can you learn something -anything- about a different country, if you don’t have contact with the people who live there?

Common sense comes in handy. You don’t travel to a poorer country and show off your jewelry and wave around the dollar bills. You don’t act provocative in someone else’s home.

“Don’t mingle with the natives,” that was a rule I was not willing to accept.

I wanted to meet the natives, wanted to eat what they were eating; I wanted to see how they were living. I wanted to learn about their way of life -if they would let me. I had chosen a career that had me traveling the world; I wanted to widen my horizon, I wanted to learn. How can we learn when we aren’t open to new things?

I remember a small tavern in Greece, it was just a few blocks away from the hotel we were staying at and I felt magically drawn to the place. I was tired of the hotel food, was tired of some of my co-workers. We worked together during the day; I was not too thrilled about spending the evenings with them as well.

One night I went for a stroll and automatically walked into the direction of the tavern. I heard music and laughter and the smell of food made my mouth water.

I opened the door and everybody -and I mean everybody- looked at me. The conversations stopped for a few seconds, and I felt like an intruder until an older gentleman waved at me. He invited me in and I gladly accepted.

They shuffled chairs around, and I was asked to sit with them. There I was, the young Austrian woman with her pale face and freckles in between all these beautiful dark skinned people with black hair. I stood out like a fly in the milk, and nobody cared.

They made me feel welcome; they were curious about the stranger who had come to visit them, and I was curious about them. We talked with hands and feet and tried a mix of languages.

The music played, and I watched men dance.They made me feel welcomed, and I willingly shared some of my life with them.

I canceled my dinners in the hotel and spend my evenings in that little tavern instead. I learned a lot about their way of life. We were not so different after all -we never are.

“Aren’t you afraid?” people often asked me, and I always wondered about that. Sometimes I was scared, and I walked away, other times I wasn’t, and I trusted. How can we explain why we trust? How can we explain why we feel fear?

I feel that distrust is on the rise in this world, while trust is on the short supply list and I wish so much I could change that. Trust is nothing more than confidence in the other person.

I wish we would give each other a little bit more credit.

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
― Ernest Hemingway




16 thoughts on “Come on in Stranger!

  1. I am in very deep agreement with you on this. I have worked out, in the course of a varied life, that trusting people nearly always brings kindness and assistance. As a parent, too, if you trust your children they will take responsibility for their actions.

  2. “I wanted to meet the natives, wanted to eat what they were eating; I wanted to see how they were living. I wanted to learn about their way of life -if they would let me.”
    This is how I felt when I went to Europe and the UAE (especially the Middle East). It changes your life and you’ll never fall for the hype of cable news again. 🙂 Wonderful post!

  3. Yes …the best part about travel is meeting, interacting with and talking to licals.
    Great post. So glad you got to have an authentic experience!

  4. As you said in an earlier comment, common sense is a good guideline. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be exercised very often.
    I liked the line “We were not so different after all -we never are.” True words. Strip away all the man-made ideologies and underneath we have the same common needs.

  5. “I was careful, but I also let my intuition and my ability to judge situations guide me”

    I think this is the key. So often it seems we—or maybe I should say “I” and not try to speak for anyone else—try to externalize trust. But I think that in most situations, if we stay aware of and responsive to our own intuitions, that can go a long way towards keeping us safe. This kind of internal trust is something I’m working on, and I admire your ability to practice it.

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