Lessons Along The Road Of Life

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Photo credit: Niche Travel Design

When traveling it is always good to be alert, to be aware of your surroundings, know where your money, your phone and passport are at all times. I admit it, I am on alert by nature, but am on extra alert when traveling to a new place. And truth be told, I have been known to let my imagination get the best of me and assume the worst if I am in unfamiliar territory. You all remember the garbage truck in Parma, Italy, right?  Where I was convinced that we would be murdered by an Italian garbage man.

On our trip to Croatia last year we decided to take a day trip to Mostar in Bosnia Herzegovina. We had read that while the main roads are safe, one must not venture off the main roads as there are still active landmines in the countryside left over from the Balkan war in the 90’s.

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Photo credit: Niche Travel Design

On our way back, at the end of a long, very hot day, we were cruising along a local road on the way to the main highway. Out of the blue we hear honking. The car behind us is furiously honking and waving at us. A quick scan of the dashboard – nothing looks amiss. Tires and alignment feel ok, but still the couple behind us will not stop honking and waving. We pull over. They pull up next to us in a beat up, older model of an unknown car. The couple themselves appear to be human versions of the car, a bit rusty and rough around the edges.

Through what can only be described as a mixture of sign language and charades we understand that we are not to go any farther down the existing road. Our GPS, whom we have named Pippa in honor of her lovely posh English accent, disagrees. Pippa clearly wants us to continue on the road that we are on. My husband suggests that perhaps the local couple knows something that we don’t. Maybe the road ahead is closed? Maybe it is not safe? I point out that Pippa has never let us down. She always recalculates when there is a closed road – as we found out on the way to Mostar.

The local couple is insistent that we follow them.  We continue to exchange unsure and concerned looks.  The local couple wins. My husband flips a u-turn. We follow them down a small back road for about 10 minutes. We have no idea where we are going. Pippa is insisting that we, “Make a u-turn if possible. Make a u-turn if possible”  I am getting progressively nervous. Who are these people? Where are they taking us? What is their motivation for having us follow them? Are we going to hit a landmine on this country road? Are we going to be ambushed and car jacked in the Balkan countryside? The Swedish plates have given us away as tourists/targets after all.

The local couple is about 200 meters in front of us. I ask Joe how he is feeling about following perfect strangers in a foreign land that still has active landmines to God knows where. He is a bit nervous about the whole encounter too. He pulls over to the side of the road.

The local couple’s car stops ahead of us in the middle of the road and just waits. There is no one else around. The only sound was the rustling of a soft breeze, the chirping of insects and the clicking of the GPS dial as Joe re-calibrates Pippa. Setting the GPS takes a long time under normal circumstances and feels even longer when one is convinced that your whole family is about to be taken out.  Then, ominously, the local car begins to reverse toward us.

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Photo credit: Pexel

They back up alongside us once again. They look confused. Why did we stop? They once again indicate that we should follow them. At this point we don’t know which way to go. Should we trust the locals or our nerves? Are they helping us or leading us to our demise? Since we have no idea where are are, we anxiously follow them again.

After about 5 more minutes of driving the local couple slows down and points us to the right. They point us down another road. Another road that we soon discover takes us directly to the main highway and relief.

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Photo credit: Niche Travel Design

The locals turn their car around. They honk, smile, wave and head back the way we just came. They were not thieves, carjackers, or murderers. They were simply really lovely, nice people who went 30 minutes round trip out of their way to help some dumb tourists heading down the wrong road in the Balkan countryside.

To that local couple, thank you. I am grateful to you for restoring my belief that most people in this world are good and kind. I promise to pay it forward and help strangers in need along this journey of life. I will do this in your honor and I will think of you every time.

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Photo credit: Pexel

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  • Reply Katherine April 26, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    What a lovely couple, and I can only imagine your relief when you saw that road lead to the highway. I would be freaking out if I was lost in a country where I didn’t speak the language. Such a heartwarming story! #FarawayFiles

    • Reply Niche Travel Design April 26, 2018 at 11:23 pm

      Yes – lovely and generous. I still feel guilty for suspecting the worst. Thanks for commenting. #farawayfiles

  • Reply Clare Thomson April 26, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    Never trust the Sat Nav, even when it’s got a nice accent. Did you ever hear those stories of people who drove off cliffs because their Sat Nav told them to keep on driving and it turned out the bridges had long collapsed or something like that? I always feel safer with maps to be honest but I do find a Sat Nav useful in a busy city. I always want to trust the locals too to be honest. I’m glad this story had a happy ending. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    • Reply Niche Travel Design April 26, 2018 at 11:20 pm

      Yes I have heard those stories. Do you remember the old Thomas Guides? You always had to have a passenger looking up streets in the index. I need to trust people more readily. Thanks for commenting! #farawayfiles

  • Reply Beth April 28, 2018 at 12:48 am

    I have to say that you wrote a great story! I was tense and anxious as I followed your experience while reading. I’m glad everything turned out okay in the end. I’ve had some nerve wracking traveling moments in the car, when you begin to fear the worse…a tour bus that feels like it is slipping on a icy road in the mountains of Greece, for example. We take risks when we explore, but we also come across kindly and capable people, too. #FarawayFiles

    • Reply Niche Travel Design April 30, 2018 at 5:08 pm

      Thank you. I felt the same way on a tour bus in Italy. Thanks for reading and commenting. #farawayfiles

  • Reply annette @afrenchcollection April 28, 2018 at 6:24 am

    I was feeling the apprehension as I read your story so was relieved when you reached the highway and yes, it’s always nice to help other strangers and fellow travellers out. What a nice philosophy you have. We never know, like your story shows, when we’ll need help ourselves 🙂 #FarawayFiles

    • Reply Niche Travel Design April 30, 2018 at 5:02 pm

      I am trying to remind myself that in all my years, 99.9% of strangers have been kind – despite my inate fears. LOL. #farawayfiles

  • Reply Hilary April 28, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    Oh my gosh! I know just how you felt! We recently had an unusual experience in Mexico that had my husband and I looking at each other and unsure of what was the right decision. So glad all was well! I think the for the most part people are good and kind, but it never hurts to be cautious! #farawayfiles

    • Reply Niche Travel Design April 30, 2018 at 5:16 pm

      I struggle with finding the balance between trusting my gut and trying to believe in the best of people. My imagination runs wild all the time. One of the things that I love about travel is being reminded that people all over the world are essentially the same at the core. Thanks for reading and commenting. #farawayfiles

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