My first bus trip in a foreign land was an overnight into Mexico City from Vera Cruz. There was some discrepancy on my ticket and I spent most of the night standing in the aisle of that double-booked diesel. I swayed through the night, slumbering on my feet through town after darkened town. We crested a ridge at dawn and dropped down into the ancient crater that is Mexico City.
The bus station was on the edge of town. I had an afternoon flight to New Orleans and all day to cross the city. I was poor in those days and traveled on a tight budget. Down to a five-dollar bill and a meager handful of centavos, I decided to hold the five for lunch and struck out on foot, marking my way by the passenger jets that descended on a distant horizon. After two hours walking, the planes were still toys in the distance and everyone I stopped to ask for directions laughed and said, “Taxi, taxi!”
In a quiet municipal park, I asked an elegant, aging little man for directions to the aeropureto. He was French. Through sign language and broken Spanish and patience, I got through to him that I had no pesos and no comprehension of the city bus system.
He guided me with a gentle hand on my elbow to a corner bus stop and pulled a plastic bag as long as my arm from his suit coat pocket. He fished out a worn peso and waited with me for a bus with Aeropuerto emblazoned across the front headpiece.
He smiled and waved as I watched him recede into the distance. A wizened little blue-eyed Frenchman in a thread-worn suit. I have thought of him often through the course of my journeys. In a world gone to hell, random acts of kindness give me great hope.
Carey Richard is the author of The Poppy Field Diary available on Kindle or paperback.