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People Aren't so Different

It’s early November here in the gateway to the Alps and it’s 65 degrees (18 C) and a spectacular day. It’s a perfect day for me to take my hike. I have a 4-mile loop I like to hike. It takes me to a national forest where I can quickly be in the center of nature and take in some amazing views of the opposing mountain range. The end of this trail runs across private land and the farmer who owns this land is kind enough to allow the trail to pass through his field. Amazingly, it seems most people are respectful of this privilege and take care to remain on the trail. I have never seen litter or garbage left behind. Today, the farmer was outside working on his house when I ventured by. Naturally, I attempted to strike up a conversation with him even though I assumed he would not speak English. I was right in my assumption, but I had my phone with me and thanks to google translate we had a brief, but very warm exchange.

I learned from him that this farm once encompassed much of the mountainside that we were standing on and that his family had farmed that land. He himself grew up on this farm. I shared a bit about myself and why I was in France and the fact that I also started out life on my grandpa’s farm in the western United States. I shared with the farmer, I didn’t think to get his name, how much I appreciated his generosity in allowing the public to use the trail on his land to which he replied, “Avec Plaisir (with pleasure)”. I continued down the mountain with a great feeling of having made a genuine connection and the joy that accompanies meeting someone so kind.

This brief, but wonderful, encounter represents a big part of why I love to travel. I love meeting people and learning of their stories. I have been in France for six months now. I have met many kind people, from Innkeepers to vintners, to a brasserie (brewery) owner, café owner, and lots of people just like you and me that are just trying to make a living and to find a little happiness in this life. Travel gets me out of my comfort zone. The rewards for doing so can only be found outside of my own familiar territory. Of the many things I have learned here in France are that the people in foreign lands that I assume will be so different from me are more like me than they are different. And more times than not, they are kind, generous, and have as much curiosity about me as I do them.

I’d love to hear of your experiences and the people you have met on your journeys.Share your thoughts, I want to learn from your experiences.


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