An Ambassador of Kindness Far Away from Home

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People are no good. They’ll rob you blind. Steal your identity. And your money. Or will they? Are there still good people in this world? Sure. You probably know some. But what about people you don’t know? Can you trust them too?

We can get cynical and expect everyone we don’t know to be our enemy. This sometimes happens when we go places don’t know that well. It’s natural to feel a little uneasy, but assuming everyone is out to get you isn’t a great way to face the world.

A year or so ago my husband and I visited Costa Rica. We found the money a little confusing. We had hired a driver to pick us up and take us from the airport to our first stop, Jaco. Because we had to pay him when we arrived there in cash we got some money from the ATM at the airport.

As we grabbed our luggage out of the back of his van, we tried to pay the driver what we owed him. We had been in the country about an hour an a half and hadn’t looked at the money since we took it out of the ATM in the busy airport. We were like kids playing Monopoly for the first time asking the banker which of the bills we should give him.

The driver took the time to explain to us how much we owned him and told us what each of the denominations were worth along with how much they were worth in US$. We appreciated his honesty and the time he took to give us a tutorial helped us to start our vacation off on the right foot. We were able to use the knowledge throughout the rest of our time in Costa Rica.

Time to Go Home

We spent most of our vacation in Montezuma, a small boat ride across the Gulf of Nicoya from Jaco. When we returned to Jaco our driver was waiting for us again. On the way back to the airport we asked him to stop at an ATM so we could get money to pay him for the return fare.

After making the stop we sat in the back of the van resting and chatting with our driver, telling him about all we had done since we last saw him. As we did we began to notice he was distracted by something in the rear view and side mirror. We thought there was an erratic driver behind us.

Finally, he apologized, “I’m sorry, I have to pull over. This guy behind me wants something.”

As soon as he did, the man behind us jumped off his moped and ran up to the driver’s side window. They spoke in Spanish and the man handed him something.

“He found your ATM card at the machine,” he said. “He’s been following us the whole way.”

We couldn’t believe our luck! The ATM machine had been in a locked building and we had struggled at first to get in and then had trouble with one card and then had switched to another of our cards before getting it to work, so in the confusion we had left the card there. We were so lucky to have this Good Samaritan bring it to us instead of leaving it there and possibly having someone else take it.

Leaving our card behind would have caused enormous headaches for us as we flew home and on the days we returned. We thanked the man and gave him a bit of reward for his efforts and continued on our way. I wish I knew who was so I could nominate him for an award. He was definitely an ambassador of kindness and for his country. He left us loving this beautiful country even more than we already did.

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Originally published at https://catherinelanser.com on November 4, 2019.

Narrative nonfiction and memoir. Querying my memoir about my family, told through the lens of brain tumor and father’s stroke. www.catherinelanser.com

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