Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Paying it forward

Revelstoke B.C
First Flat Tyre after 800km - Caused by cactus thorn.
              As independent as a lone traveller may be, the dependencies upon generosity is the mortar in which binds budget travel with longevity. When alone the choice on where to go, when to go, and what to do is solely comprised of ones individual decision making, however those decisions and choices are dependent on the generosity of other people much more than what's given credit for. Be it climbing Mt Kosciusko in Africa, visiting the Alhambra in Spain, or hiking through the jungles of Borneo, the generosity must exist from the gate keeper to point you on the right path up the mountain, for the taxi driver to drop you off showing an alley on a map to the back entrance of a palace, or the villager who signals you in from the pouring rain to set up camp under a shelter of his. Adventuring alone around the world for years at a time presents you with many of these small acts of kindness and generosity on a daily basis in which are always welcomed and thanked but we hardly realize that these small gestures are what keeps someone going when the soul is about to give up, It’s small gestures like these that accumulate into a realization of how generous people really are if given the chance. You can say after three years of being on the road I’ve received more than what I have given and have accumulated a hefty debt needing to be paid back, luckily in a small mountain town of Revelstoke B.C I found a perfect opportunity to give back to a family who couldn’t be more deserving.
Awesome Newton Family + Me
               After writing my previous post I pushed off from Kamloops, B.C at 11:30 pm to search out a plot of grass along the highway to get some rest for the night. Kamloops is one hell of a big town and I found myself cycling along the highway at 1:30 am still looking for a place to put my tent. Realizing how dangerous and ridiculous it was to be riding a bike down the trans Canada HWY with a head torch in the black of night I broke my own rule of not paying for accommodation and pulled into a RV Park. The next day the woman who owned the camp site said I was so quiet and came in so late she wasn’t going to charge me for the night. The $20 might not have seem like a big deal to her but it meant a safe, sound night’s sleep and a much needed shower and that I’m back on track for my goal of never needing to pay for accommodation.  
Bathroom Before Reno
                Early the next day I came across a hole in the wall town which the only industry was houseboat rentals for holiday goers. My one treat to myself along this trip is to stop at a restaurant every day and have a cup of tea, partly because I love a tea and it’s cheap and it forces me to slow down and enjoy the trip instead of enduring it. It was a beautiful little restaurant on the shore of a placid lake surround by tall mountains, I was really glad I put in the extra effort to venture off the highway and into the small settlement. The bill was presented to me, it read “$2.00” Scrounging around I realized I had no cash what so ever and displayed my credit card exposed embarrassment to the hot blond babe working the bar. She smiled and said “listen, don’t worry about it. Today I am buying your cup of tea for you” It was only two dollars, hardly pocket change but couldn’t help but to be overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness from strangers. There I was dress in filthy clothes smelling like a bag of testicles with a single matted dread lock in my hair but I could tell by her eyes it wasn’t pity that bought me the cup of tea, it was her pride in being generous. She followed up by saying “Pay if forward” Paying it forward…. She’s right its was time for me to start paying up.
Bathroom After Renovation
               Arriving in Revelstoke B.C late that night I checked my email to find out a woman I had replied back saying it was okay for me to sleep and shower at her house that night through a website called warmshowers.org. Exhausted and excited I programmed my GPS and found my way to their front yard. Vegetables grew from one corner of the yard, chickens squawked in the other. Kids appeared and disappeared while zooming past by foot and bicycle. This place had a strange sensation of home to me. That’s when I met Sarah my host, a fit enthusiastic and hardworking woman giving me the quick tour around the house only to find out later she is the aunt of my best female friend Lucy Newton. I would frequently visit my friend Lucy’s house In Halifax and help myself to a bowl of cereal after letting myself in whether anyone was home or not so I knew right away I would feel at home here.
Personalized Touch
               I thought about the events in the past day, and then the past week, and then the past few years and of all the people who have opened their doors to me showing me that human compassion towards a stranger. It was my time to give back a little of what’s been given to me. Having little to offer other than dried fruit I found the best way to show this family how much I appreciate what they have done for me and many other people on their cycling journeys was to use my trade as a carpenter to renovate their bathroom. I’ve been here a week already venturing into hot springs, watching soccer tournaments, hiking up mountains, and finally putting the finishing touches on the bathroom today. Revelstoke for most people who don’t know is a small valley town nestled in In the middle of the Rocky Mountains. Canada’s best kept secret if you ask me.
I added a shower pot light, and back-lit glass mosaic tiles.
                Secretly I’ve been searching a place to finish my carpentry journeymen ticket and I very well could have stumbled upon the Canadian dream of year round outdoor activities such as skiing down and hiking up the best mountains in the world by winter, canoeing and swimming in glacier melt rivers by summer in a town sprawling with young women from all over world seeking that adventurous lifestyle. I still have 6250km’s to go but I don’t know if it can get any better than this. This place is breathtakingly beautiful and full of down to earth real people and I'm going to miss the Newton family  but my journey is young and this country is long.

 Head down, peddle hard, home is calling my name.

1 comment:

  1. Joe, what nice words you wrote about us! We want you to come back as fast as you can to Revelstoke. You are right, paying it Forward is the best really. I paid a woman's bill at the grocery store today because she didn't have enough. It was a pleasure to do this. The lovely feeling of giving thanks for all we have is made complete by doing service and good for others. Keep spreading the word, Joe. You are now like family. You are family!! Uncle Joe, love it!