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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thankful for the Kindness of Strangers (and Friends): The Joys of Travel

With all the talk of full body scans and "friendly" pat downs, it makes you wonder why anyone would bother with travel at all! For GoalBusters, the last few months have been filled with many trips and through it all, we've met many people that make it worth the hassle.

Why travel is cool:
The Last Butter Tart
(before 5 of us ate it)
1. People generally want to share the best of their community. In Mexico City, my hosts were insistent that I tour the Anthropology Museum during my less than 72 hour trip for a presentation. They were so insistent that they arranged for a driver to whisk me from the conference to the museum, wait for me at the museum, and bring me back to the conference in time for one of the closing sessions. That driver also took me to a bank to get pesos (at my request) and took me to a street stall for lunch (and he even bought).



In Toronto, my friends Mark and Joseph Climie-Elliott invited people to join them for the Taste of the Danforth. A small group of us got to experience this lively Greek street festival and five of us shared a single butter tart, the last one remaining of several hundred that were made by the bakery we visited. It was a really good, really teeny piece of pastry which is now a link amongst Mark, Andrew Watt and I at Association of Fundraising Professionals meetings!

Carlos Madrid-Varela and Alice in Mexico City
2. People are pretty understanding if it looks like you're trying. I speak almost no Spanish. I can say por favor, gracias, si, no, a few numbers, and a smattering of other words related to food. Yet in spite of my less than preschool grasp of the language, every person I interacted with wanted to help me. Maybe they felt sorry for me, but I was put at ease almost immediately by everyone with a smile and "Don't worry, I speak a little English," or hand signals to try to communicate. In general, if you ask questions with genuine interest, you can usually get some good travel tips and maybe a clue to a hidden gem.

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