The wonderful kindness of people
Travelling down from Germany, through Austria, Slovenia, and to the southern most reaches of Croatia, Nicole, Beckett and I are essentially on our own. We can choose where to stop, and when. We can stay for as long or as short a time as we wish. We are masters of our own destiny. More or less. I love the independence our camper gives us. We don’t even have to hook up to electricity. As long as the fresh water is full, waste is empty, toilet cassette is fresh, and there is gas in our tanks, we can remain in our own little fiefdom for days at a time.
And yet if you do that, you don’t make contact with other people. As a grumpy old soul that suits me fine most of the time. But then I would miss out on some of the richness of this travel experience. As I sit here right now, watching the sunset over the Island of Krk, I can look over at our Austrian neighbours. They could have smiled and waved at us when we arrived, cursed us for sharing the view, then ignored us for the next three days. Instead, they recognised we were about 30m away from the electric point. Not a problem unless your electric cable is 25m in length, just like ours. They could have watched us move the van forward 5m. Instead they just offered us their spare extension cable. Macht nichts. They even helped us connect it up. Since then they have gone about their business. We’ve minded ours. Just wonderful.
Going back a couple of weeks, when we stayed at Pakôstane, and Camp Gentile, we were visited by the camp’s owner’s husband. He welcomed us, and welcomed back Nicole’s parents. He brought with him some home made wine. Home brew of any kind can sometimes prove to be dodgy, but this was really rather good. We made short work of a 1.5l bottle, which he left with us. After a short chat, he made sure we were ok but didn’t overstay his welcome. His wife, the owner popped along to see us the next evening. We asked about payment – she didn’t mind if it was in Kunas (the local currency) Euros or Pounds. In fact, she was so laid back she wasn’t even around to take our payment the next day when we left. She was more than happy and trusting enough to let the in-laws pass the payment on when they were due to leave, a couple of days after us. How many people do you know who are the trusting? Some may say foolish. I prefer to think there are still people who think the best of others. It gladdens my soul.
Social media may be considered the bane of many lives. 21st century tech invading everyone’s lives. You have to be a real Luddite (or my Mum) not to be connected to something from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snap Chat. Even Mum has email and SMS & can Skype! And yet Facebook helped connect us with the wonderful Irene. She is from Slovenia. Nicole is from Germany. I am from England. We have never conversed before with Irene. Never met her. Never planned to meet her. The only connection in fact is via a love of the same breed of dogs. We are all members of the same Wheaten Terrier Facebook group. Nicole happened to comment on a picture Irene posted. Irene offered some tips on places to visit in Slovenia and Croatia. When she discovered we were staying at a camp site not far from her home (now on the Croatian coast) she offered to show us around. She didn’t have to do this. But she took time out of her own life to host us. To taxi us. To tour guide us. To introduce us to Bonita, her own wonderful Wheaten. Bonita and Beckett got to share ice cream, a first for our own lad. Irene treated all of us to ice cream. She showed us some lovely walks along the beach. She took us to a quiet little local restaurant for lunch. She took us back to her flat for coffee. She bought us gifts. Just because she wanted to share with us the beauty of this part of the world, and because we have a shared love of dogs. In a world that has grown so cynical and suspicious of each other, where debates rage over whether we should go it alone, and where just about every foreigner is treated as suspicious, doesn’t it bring some gladness and joy to your heart to know there are good, kind people out there. Altruism isn’t dead. In fact it is very much alive and well and thriving in our world, and I for one am grateful. Thank you world.