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Tomorrow is the most joyous day of the year, Christmas, a day where families come together to spend time with one another. Today though, is not Christmas it is the day before Christmas; the day were the children are eyeing those gifts under the trees in anticipation of what surprises await them. Well as Christmas Eve is upon us let us talk a little more about human kindness and continue our “Kindness of Strangers” series over this holiday season.
Our next story of kindness takes place in the beautiful country of Croatia. Ashley and I had been traveling the Istrian region of Croatia for a little over 2 weeks. This particular night we arrived late to the bus station in Porec, Croatia. Due to problems with bus schedules we arrived a lot later in the evening then we had anticipated. Normally this would not have been a problem if Porec was going to be our final destination however, Ashley and I needed to find a late night bus to Brtonigla which was about a half hour away by car to the north. Unfortunately, all the buses were done for the day and it began to look like we were not going to make it to our next destination.
As it had been a very long day of travel we did not really want to spend the whole night at a bus stop especially since we had already booked accommodation for the night. We contacted the man who we had been communicating with for our accommodations and he, Stefano, told us that he would pick us up if we could just help with gas as payment. We said of course; Ash and I just wanted to get into a bed.
At first we thought nothing about him coming because it was only a 30 minutes drive. He arrived with his mother and we went on our way. We found out then he does not live at the property we were staying at. He just handles the reservations for them. We asked where he lived, if he did not live on property. He told us that he lives in Piran, SLOVENIA, and that him and his mother drove all the way from Piran to Porec to pick us up. It’s about an hour drive from his home.
We were shocked that he was willing to stop what he was doing to drive to another country to pick up two Americans and then drive us to where we were staying and then drive back home.
This was such an inconvenience but he did not even bat an eye. He was more than happy to do it and all he asked for was a little help with gas which is completely understandable. Ashley and I were completely blown away by someone willing to go that far out their way to help us out of our bad situation. He could have simply not offered and we would have not thought twice about it. Stefano really did help Ashley and I and are so grateful that he took the time and went above and beyond to help two travel worn travelers.
After Stefano dropped us off we met Maria, who the next story is about. Maria and her husband were the ones who took care of the inn that we stayed at in Brtonigla. She shuffled us up to the our room and made sure we had everything we needed and told us to get some rest. The next morning we came down to find her and the cutest little pup name Tobi in the common area. Maria does not speak english but she did speak Italian like so many Croatians do in the Istrian region. So over the next day Ash and I had to reach deep into our brain and dust off that Italian that has been on the shelf since we left Italy 3 1/2 years before.
The first thing Ash and I found out was that most of the guests have rental cars so that they can get around as we were staying a couple of kilometers outside town. We never really thought about that. We were kind of stuck out in the middle of nowhere. There was really no path along the highway to walk into town; you had to walk on the road or hitchhike, which is very common in the area due to the lack of local buses. Maria was worried about us not having a car to get into town to eat. So over the next 10 days she took care of us.
The first day she drove us in and showed us the town and showed us where to eat. She gave us her number so we could call her to pick us up. We passed on this and walked back to the inn. When we arrived back to the inn she immediately asked why we did not call and we responded that we did not want to inconvenience her and we enjoyed walking. We spent a lot of time at the inn hanging out with the pup Tobi. Not having a car we decided to spend our time working on the blog. As we worked Maria spent her time feeding us and making sure that everything was okay and if we needed anything. She made us eggs with fresh wild asparagus, fresh picked figs, and lots and lots of espresso to keep us going. Ash and I assumed that whatever she was making us was going onto our bill for the inn.
We originally were only supposed to stay four day but ended up staying ten days because we were enjoying our time so much. When it came to pay up for our 10 day stay Maria, did not charge us for any of the wonderful food and espresso she provided. She also drove us back to Porec to catch our bus free of charge.
Maria was like a mother worried about her kids. She wanted to make sure we did not go hungry on her watch. Maria’s kindness and hospitality is something that Ash and I will never forget. We never asked for anything but that did not matter; she wanted to make sure we had a enjoyable time at her inn. I know that Ashley and I will go back to stay with Maria again because of her unbelievable hospitality. Next time with a car though. Maria is a wonderful lady and even though we had a language barrier we were able to get to know her. Ash and I are very happy that we met her on our travels.
Maria and Stefano did not have to do any of these acts of kindness for Ash and me. We would have not thought twice if they did not do any of it. It was all going beyond what they needed to do for us. Because of what they did, our trip in Istria became even more memorable. It was great to experience first hand how wonderful people can be and how much love they can show to worn down American travelers. It really warms the heart and keeps me going each day.
And now, get off your computer and go spend Christmas with your loved ones. Enjoy the holidays and never forget how much kindness is out there in the world. Merry Christmas to all from Ashley and Alex at In Pursuit of Adventure!
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