This is a tribute to someone who epitomises the kindness displayed by people I’ve met along Grand Canadian Hitchhike.
Coming out of The Commodore, refreshed by the pints we’d gulped in celebration of our arrival in Kamloops, our thoughts turned to recuperation – Michael and I had been hitchhiking since 12 hours prior and, with exhaustion lingering on from the night the Vancouver riots disrupted my sleeping patterns, all we then craved for was a comfortable bed.
Except, in a sort-of-remote town like Kamloops, the search for budget accommodation was more like a Odyssean homecoming.
First up, the bouncer from The Commodore gave us the directions to a YMCA five blocks away – nothing but closed shops and parking lots greeted our sight. We then consulted a taxi driver, who pointed us towards the YMCA – albeit the community sports centre rather than its lodging equivalent. Merely zigzagging through town, we ended up back on the street where the beers quenched our thirst.
Then, a warning.
“The YMCA is cheap, but it’s shared with the homeless people,” I was informed by a girl at the Boston Pizza. She advised us to instead find a motel along Colombia Street, several blocks northwards – though we’d be paying much more than that we had initially hoped.
By the time we lunged for the Travelodge, both of us were internally and externally battered.
Frankly, I had not felt like advertising myself as a travel writer and trans-Canada hitchhiker when I announced to the clerk our desire to check in for the night. My words may well have been imprudent. Yet the clerk handled the paperwork swiftly, answered our queries with good humour, and did what she could to welcome us into the property.
On my way out of the office I caught a glimpse of the tag on the desk: it read “Cheri“.
The first thing that caught my eye in the morning was a new comment on The Travelling Editor – it was from one Cheri.
“What a great experience for you, and some good karma indeed! Welcome to Kamloops…I hope you had a good night’s rest. I love your writing! Good fortune on your hitchhike to Banff!!”
The realisation – I had listed The Travelling Editor as my ‘company’ on the guest information form.
We packed up and checked out of our room, only to be greeted by the receptionist who delivered an envelop – upon which my name was scribbled. Inside was a Starbucks card, which she explained in an attached letter contains $40 and is her present to us. A few days later she posted on The Travelling Editor’s Facebook page, offering to share the news of Grand Canadian Hitchhike among her friends and try to help me out along the way.
To which I replied:
Thank you so much! Truly flattering. And never had the opportunity to thank you for the Starbucks card – it’s spurs of kindness like that displayed by yourself that keeps me going. Take care!
Indeed, such gestures of kindness is what motivates me and excites me as a traveller. Cheri, you have my gratitude and from those all around the world who’ve gone on to become seekers of human kindness.