One of the best gifts we have received from our many adventures is the ability to be vulnerable and in doing so connect with total strangers in simple, but meaningful ways.
For example, in 2007 and 2008 Amy and I paddled 3,000 miles across South America through the heart of the Amazon Rainforest with a team of scientists, educators, and adventurers. During the 6 months we were paddling through Peru, Columbia, and Brazil we spent more than 50 night in the homes of total strangers. Often the forest was flooded and people’s tiny palm thatched homes built on stilts were the only dry refuge available. Over and over again we would paddle up to tiny farm houses, small villages, or floating shacks on the edge of large cities, looking for a place to spend the night. We were strange looking foriegners who hadn’t bathed or washed our clothes in weeks, could barely speak the language– literally looking like we had arrived from another planet.
Only once were we told there was no place for us to stay.
Approaching a stranger in a strange land looking for help, we were trusting them and they were trusting us. For those seeking refuge and those providing shelter these encounters reaffirmed that despite our different languages, cultures, religions, and outward appearances people are good and we share far more similarities than differences.
We must act out of love and compassion, not out of fear of people or things we do not know or fully understand. We are all global citizens and we must care for each other and our planet. Not for our sake, but for the sake of the world we collectively leave for others.
This Thanksgiving we are thankful for our friends and family near and far and all of the acts of love and kindness we have received from strangers, and for the Wilderness that surrounds us.
#expeditionflashback Welcomed by strangers.