Someone I met said something to me that touched my heart deeply and that has stayed with me ever since.
It was a cool spring morning and I was at the bus station in Salamanca. A blond, strong woman approached me and asked me if I were traveling to Madrid. I replied yes, I was. Then she asked me if I were going to the airport. Again, my answer was yes. Finally she asked me if I wouldn’t mind sharing a taxi ride between the bus station and the airport with the man that was with her. I found it odd, but I accepted. I’d have some company on the way and share the cab fare. The man shyly nodded to me from his seat as his wife was pointing at him, to show me which one he was. I nodded back ‘hello’, still thinking this to be odd. The bus got on its way, leaving behind Salamanca and a content blond lady, and I didn’t think about this incident for the rest of the trip.
Once in Madrid, we took a taxi to Barajas airport and talked a little on the way. He was a psychology professor at a university in his home country. At that point I was a graduate student, studying at the University of Salamanca. He was a very calm and kind man, very pleasant to talk to.
One of my favorite things when traveling around the world is the people we get to meet. Somehow, the fact that we are all on our way to someplace else, that we are all foreigners, that we are just passing by and only meet for a very brief time, results in us trusting more, opening up and having the most interesting and sincere conversations.
As we arrived at the airport, I took out the money to pay my share of the fare. But he didn’t let me.
Now I know why we traveled together that day. I have never forgotten his words:
“Let me get this. You’re still a student.
I have received so many gifts in my life. Now, it’s my turn to give back.”
And now it’s my turn.
by Melina Stefanidou