Today is day 1 of my journey to Chiang Mai. One of the biggest reasons I decided to go by myself is to force myself to step out of my comfort zone and meet people along the way. So, instead of keeping my headphones on, eyes averted and quiet, I started conversations.
My original travel plans to the airport changed, so I decided to take Amtrak from Sacramento into San Francisco. On the train I was by myself for about 20 minutes. Then in Davis, I was joined by a commuter student at UCD. She was crocheting a really pretty blanket and I used that as my opener. Turns out, she’s from NYC and is a senior vet student at UCD with hopes of getting her veterinary training in the UK this coming year. She was super cool and really friendly. We only talked for about 30 minutes before she disembarked, but I’m glad she sat next to me.
My Uber driver to the airport was Benny. Man! Did he have a story. Originally born in Guatemala, he ran away from home at 16 in 1989. He travelled by foot into TX and within a month was living on the streets in San Francisco. No papers, no ability to communicate in English, no money, no food. After living on the streets for about 6 months, 2 missionaries invited them home one night where they fed him and gave him a place to live and helped him get a job as a janitor. 29 years later, he makes good money, lives on his own and is now a citizen of the US able to help those in need and “pay it forward”, as he says. He believes that he had some guardian angels along the way to help him become the man he is today. His story was nothing short of amazing.
Both of these people, I would normally have ignored. But hearing their stories warmed my heart and reaffirmed what amazing people there are in the world. Next stop, Chiang Mai, Thailand!