The Kindness of Strangers

Discussion in 'Hiking Chat' started by WilliamC, Sep 16, 2016.

  1. WilliamC

    WilliamC Thru Hiker

    1. Tuesday morning we cross the Yedigöl Plateau towards Direktaş, where the trekking companies have a permanent camp. The last water was from a tarn the previous afternoon, and we could do with filling up. From above, we can see that there are only three tents there - individual walkers, not organised groups, and the trekking companies' sites are empty.
    We approach a man about our age (Turkish) and after the usual greetings ask about water. (The trekking companies usually pipe it in from a snow bank. In this low snow year, we've seen no sign of snow on the plateau.)
    "There is no water."
    We won't reach our next water source until the middle of the afternoon. We have enough to survive but it's going to be hot and we're going to go very thirsty. He notices me glance at a five litre plastic bottle of water at his feet.
    "I brought that from Çelikbuyduran." Çelikbuyduran is a spring on one of the passes to the plateau. He must have hauled it several kilometres and several hundred metres up and down over the pass.
    "I'm heading back out that way today. I can give you some if you like. I promised some to them," he tips his head towards a group of younger Turks at two nearby tents, "so I could give you half."
    He passes us a paper cup of tea and invites us to share his breakfast (bread, cheese, olives - Turkish hikers are often fanatic about sticking to their traditional meals, regardless of the weight). But we've already eaten and have a long day planned, so we decline and move on, grateful for the water.
    2. Wednesday afternoon we're walking out from the mountains. The route is down a dirt road in a narrow, forested valley. Only one vehicle has passed us and that was a couple of hours ago. It starts to hail, then the rain starts to belt it down. After about twenty minutes, we hear a car approaching. It stops.
    "Get in; I'll take you the rest of the way." He has to shout to be heard above the noise of the rain.
    We have about another thirty kilometres to go but the temperature is pleasant and we've already decided not to accept any lifts.
    "It's OK, we'd prefer to walk."
    "In this? At least, sit in the car for a while."
    We're sopping wet and our shoes are balls of mud. If I owned a car, I wouldn't let us anywhere near it.
    But we're insistent. We're actually quite enjoying it; it's been a long hot summer and this is the first real rain we've seen since a trip to the Kaçkar six weeks ago - gixer would probably understand.
    Eventually he relents: "Well, I've got two loaves of bread here, at least let me give you one. Here, you keep the plastic bag they're in to keep it dry."
    (As he drives off, we notice that the boot is up and it's full of bee hives. How do they do that? How do they keep the bees in the hive while they're being transported?)
    The place where we live is going through troubling times and it is easy to start to feel pessimistic. But the generosity of people met can be inspiring, and, to be honest, a little shaming. I hope it doesn't come off as trite or pretentious, but I wanted to share this and I would be interested in hearing the experiences of others.
  2. murpharoo

    murpharoo Section Hiker

    That makes us realise that there are good souls still out there :thumbsup:

    I had a similar experience while on the HRP. We were running low on water and the predicted water source we were relying on was non existent - the next being a long long way away. Facing a dilemma when at that point a French chap on a moped was passing and stopped to chat. In pigeon French we explained our water issue and luckily he was the owner of the next farm down the lane. He raced ahead to warn his girlfriend to don some clothes before our arrival (they were nudists ! :jawdrop:) and let us fill our water bladders from his water source.

    I still smile at our luck that day and the strangeness of the situation high in the French hills !
  3. Rog Tallbloke

    Rog Tallbloke Thru Hiker

    In one of the refuge huts up in Andorra a few years ago, we were seriously low on food after trekking along the tops for 5 days. An old couple arrived after us, and seeing our meagre rations, insisted on sharing their provisions with us for the evening meal. We cooked over the last of the firewood at the hut. Next morning they headed for one of the surrounding summits, and we took our empty packs and a saw we found down to the treeline and lugged a load of firewood back up before leaving for the descent to Soldeu. They arrived back just before we left and were overjoyed with the prospect of a nice fire to stay warm by that evening. I wish we could have stayed too, but our flight back to blighty was 48 hours later from Carcassonne and we had a way to go to get there.
  4. WilliamC

    WilliamC Thru Hiker

    It's great that you were able and willing to find a way to repay them.
  5. Jamess

    Jamess Section Hiker

    Unlike much of the rest of the UK, a lot of folk in north west Scotland are friendly and helpful to backpackers.

    I frequently hitch when I'm up there, I've been fed and had running repairs done for me on gear.

    Can't say I've ever been short of water up there so can't comment on that one. ;)
  6. Lady Grey

    Lady Grey Thru Hiker

    Hiking down from one of the passes in the Mercantour in August, I met an older French couple.
    They asked me which route I was heading off for and it happened to pass by their chalet...several hours later, having been fed on fresh raspberries and blackcurrants, the strongest :D:D:D coffee...ever...icy cold water and the offer of lunch, (which I politely declined.) I set off.
    They even offered to drive me to the beginning of the next stage as there were a couple of Kms of road to cover.
    Was impressed....:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
    Fair Weather Camper and WilliamC like this.
  7. Lady Grey

    Lady Grey Thru Hiker

    A section of the Southern Upland Way last week...a 4 mile section of road...yuk.....local lady stopped..asked where I was headed and offered to take me....Saved an hour's boring trudge.
    Next day tried hitching 9 miles to get a bus.
    A young couple pulled up and dropped me off one hour later, a few minutes from my front good is that.........:D
    Fair Weather Camper and WilliamC like this.
  8. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    Cycling in Alaska. About 80 miles in ice-cold rain. We pulled into a gas station soaked through.

    How shower. The owners took us out to the barn, I helped him put the flue right on the barrel stove in there and he fired it up. Brought us a camp bed. Then a ton of wood.

    We settled in - he came pack with a six-pack of beer.

    Would accept nothing, I mailed him some high-quality steel blanks a while later as a thank you as he was getting into knife-making.
  9. lentenrose

    lentenrose Trail Blazer

    boat camping west coast of scotland ---given 2 trout by an angler whilst launching on loch shiel---talking to a fisherman--elgol-skye given a ling and a big feed of squat lobsters---loch scavaig-- boat comes alongside--got any mackeral?---no sorry---would you like some----eigg --gave away 30 mackeral to the locals and got invited to a 21st birtthday rave in a tent on the beach----theres a generosity of spirit on the west coast
  10. Creamy

    Creamy Section Hiker

    Thank you for posting. Just returned from PCT. and stories full of your title thread. Currently converting pages of trail notes and memoirs into report with photos if I can upload. Gr8 thread!
  11. Fair Weather Camper

    Fair Weather Camper Thru Hiker

    Maybe I'm just lucky...

    No; I am lucky... :beaver:

    But I could fill several tomes with 'random acts of kindneses' bestowed upon, both whilst travelling and closer to home..

    Lifts across rush hour Madrid when driver really only going local....

    Warm billets in seemingly unfriendly towns

    Offers of homecooked meals in one horse places, when all the restaurants were closed..

    Lorry drivers 'risking' taking me on ferries, as their 'co driver' , when my passport has 'interesting' stamps..

    Clothes washed, stories shared, smiles returned, food given, lifts offered, bike fixed, shoes repaired. local knowledge supplied. And so on .. Pretty sure it's the same most places...

    Folks generally are kind, or at least mean well.....

    Even, or sometimes especially, the ones who would like to project the old 'gimlet eyed, hard man or woman of the hills' shizzle...

    Sometimes people are too tired, or distracted, or worried about what people will think, or whatever, to be able to help.

    But 99% of the time I reckon you get back what you put out... Even if not straightaway...

    Whilst waiting for a call centre operative to do his thing this morning, I read this truism..

    Sorry if it also sounds trite :oops:

    Whatever else you do, at least try to be kind...

    You really don't know what is going on down there; where the spirit meets the bone...

    ie, you don't know for sure what people are 'carrying' . .

    'cept it's fairly certain, I will most likely have a kite... Somewhere about my personage ;)

    See y'all about... Out n about.. :)

    Like wot @Creamy said... Gr8 thread:)
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  12. JKM

    JKM Thru Hiker

    Visiting Portugal with a group of friends in the early naughties in a very remote area, no tarmac for at least 10k.
    We were wandering home from a local beachside bar when an overcrowded little Fiat full of teenagers pulled up next to us and the window wound down.

    'Do you have Cannabis?' the driver asked
    'Sorry, no'
    'Here, for you, welcome to Portugal' he said handing us an eighth before driving off.

    A very welcoming country!
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
  13. Autumn Flower

    Autumn Flower Trail Blazer

    Beautiful story / ies

    When i am out adventuring i always am met with kindness, genorosity and helping.

    Without asking for it I have been offered free accommodation, food when I had none, lifts and all sorts.

    Travelling on the wild side has in return inspired me to become more generous and giving than i Already was.
    Tartanferret likes this.
  14. Toot

    Toot Summit Camper

    Kiwi's in Kiwi-land. Never met an unpleasant one there from the second you land, most rather agreeable, several highly agreeable above and beyond a response this Brit was used to at first. I regard them as Australians but without the chip on their shoulder or any need to prove anything to anyone but themselves, so rather chilled out in their interaction with others as a result. A country full of content people who think lending a stranger a hand is normal rather than some disgraceful intrusion in asking, subservience to give in to, likely to result in murder rape or bubonic plague, or reason to be offensive. Come to think of it, I haven't met a Kiwi anywhere else who turned out to be an asshole. OK, one or two of the Maori's can state a grievance but they do it on sound grounds and with dignity so far as I could see.

    I reckon the Kiwi's have a country with space that's right and the attitude and outlook of the locals is wired up right in response. I can recall on one occasion leaving a lot of fond memories in NZ to reluctantly get on a plane only to hear a fat loud obnoxious American tell a woman he'd eat her baby if she didn't stop it crying (he ignored the fact the baby was hooked up to a medical drip and on the way to US for treatment), and back in London when I asked staff if the bus marked Brixham in the Exeter stand was actually going to Exeter I got the sneering reply "Well where do you think it's going?". I resisted the temptation to tell Numbnuts it said bloody Brixham and then, as now, I thought I wouldn't find such an offensive unhelpful prick greeting travellers in NZ. Funny old world, innit?
  15. Lady Grey

    Lady Grey Thru Hiker

    Totally agree Toot:thumbsup:
  16. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker


    I would have agreed 100% re. folks in NZ if it hadn't been fof an incident at airport security in Christchurch - a 'female white caucasian' who I can only describe as a "little hitler"/jumped up minor official. She confiscated the tent pegs and poles from our hand luggage (2 x Hillies). We protested and her manager made her return the poles but I lost the pegs. We'd taken 4 flights into and around NZ at this point and were now departing = made no sense. Her attutude was really nasty - I was in very upset and in tears by the time she'd finished. Such a shame because as you say most New Zealanders are lovely. It put a 'blot' on our NZ experience. Good and bad folks everywhere.

    Maybe I should not have had the tents in our hand luggage but they were crucial to the trip and I didn't want them lost, and there was no space in our hold luggage.
  17. gixer

    gixer Thru Hiker

    Speaking as someone that's worked around airport security for the last 17 years i can maybe offer a view from the other side Cathy

    It's pretty clear what is and what is not allowed in our hand luggage, don't know when this was but now days tent pegs are not allowed.
    The regulations on internal flights within a country are often very different than international flights, the airport has different regulations it needs to abide by in each case.

    Likewise the fact that you somehow circumnavigated or got through security with these forbidden items is just lucky, it's not the standard policy.

    The security officer was obviously in the wrong if she was nasty, no if's, but's or maybe's

    Just think though that you do a soulless job for minimum wage where you get at least 10 "special" passengers per hour.
    We're asked at check-in "any liquids, anything sharp?"
    There are signs as you approach the security checkpoint
    There is usually someone stood there asking you again "any liquids, anything sharp?"
    Then at the security checkpoint there is usually someone wandering around asking "any liquids, anything sharp"
    As we put our bags and stuff through the xray system they'll ask again "any liquids, anything sharp"

    Even after ALL that the amount of folks that seem to think they're "special" that the rules don't apply to them, or they're just downright stupid in that they forgot what they themselves packed in their bag has to be seen to be believed.

    It's not just the staff that get annoyed, when i used to fly regularly the amount of times the line would be held up because some idiot thought they were "special" had to be seen to be believed again

    At our local airport there is at least 1 person every week that misses their flight because they stand there arguing with the security staff.

    I'm not saying you though you were special or that you were in the wrong, as someone who's seen things from the other side of the counter my hope is you can see that it's tough to be tolerant 40 hours a day 5 days a week under the circumstances they have to work.
    That's no justification for her being rude mind.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
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  18. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    5-6 yrs ago. I just hadn't registered that tent pegs were a sharp weapon …… I probably should have done. But what she thought I could do with tent poles I don't know ?? :o o:.
    She was unpleasantly 'officious'. She could have been sympathetic and still done her job, but she actually made the encounter as unpleasant as she could and enjoyed wielding her 'power' :(.
    That was my point - uncharacteristic of all other NZ folks we'd met.
    gixer likes this.
  19. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    Duplicate post.
  20. MartinK9

    MartinK9 Section Hiker

    Coming down off the Hardangervidda with Cliff both with knackered feet, waiting for a non existing bus, a woman dove past us, turned around came back and gave us a 5 mile lift whilst we stunk her car out....
    WilliamC likes this.
  21. gixer

    gixer Thru Hiker

    Aye i can understand that, as i say absolutely no need for her to be rude.
    Like any walk of life you get different "personalities" at airport security, put certain types of personality in a uniform then stew under a stressful and repetitive environment of hundreds of "special", argumentative and arrogant passengers and it makes matters even worse.

    She was right though, you shouldn't have been allowed onto to the plane with either tent poles or pegs in your hand luggage
    Not even hiking poles are allowed.

    You can sometimes "get through" with them but that's the exception rather than the norm.

    Personally i just have soft clothes in my hand luggage.

    If i'm taking just hand luggage then i don't even bother taking toothpastes, deodorant etc, i'll buy it all at t'other end.
    Small containers are allowed but i inevitably get stopped and checked even if they're the right size :banghead: so i just don't bother.

    At work and when i fly i wear a bumbag
    Might not be the height of fashion, but it's mega convenient to just keep everything in then just unclip it as you go through security.
    cathyjc likes this.
  22. Rog Tallbloke

    Rog Tallbloke Thru Hiker

    When backpacking abroad, I fly handbaggage only. I got a set of Ti tent pegs confiscated as I left Spain "because they have points on". I asked if they would let them through if they we cut flat across at the pointy end and they confirmed they would. The thing that annoys the paying public about this kind of nonsense is that dull pointed or cut flat would make NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER to the kind of puncture wound you could inflict with them.

    It's all just OFFICIOUS ******.

    Before Da Roolz were introduced, how many planes were ever hijacked using tent pegs or tent poles?
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2017
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  23. WilliamC

    WilliamC Thru Hiker

    The last time we flew back to the UK, we were refused permission to carry on an empty glass jar (the almost unbreakable, thick, airtight type) as we might break it and use the shards as a weapon while the next person was allowed to take a porcelain teapot, which I'm sure would be easier to break and use as a weapon. Then on the flight we were served a meal with metal knives. None of it hangs together logically,
    (But they never said anything about the used Starlyte stove that was destined for Paul.)
    paul likes this.
  24. Rog Tallbloke

    Rog Tallbloke Thru Hiker

    And of course, you're welcome to buy a glass bottle full of alcohol in duty free once past security and carry that aboard...
    cathyjc and WilliamC like this.
  25. paul

    paul Thru Hiker

    you never hear of the tunnel tent bomber? :D
    cathyjc likes this.

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