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October 11, 2007

The value of a glass of water (in making travel friends)

I wrote yesterday about our experiences of making friends with locals while we’re on the road. This week has brought another example and another new friendship.

The first time the local Grenadian lady, Esther, came to clean our rented apartment, my husband offered her a drink. She seemed stunned: “Oh, how very kind of you, I’d love one. What do you have?”. Unfortunately all we could offer her was some cold, bottled water – perhaps not the exotic fresh sorrell, pineapple or mango juice she might have been hoping for.

The second time I did the same, and while she sipped her water, we had a chat. Esther told us about her life on the island — hard working and entrepreneurial (she grows plants to sell to the fruit vendors as well as cleaning full time), she gave us a real insight into life on the island. She shared her views on the government (don’t get the Grenadians started on politics!), her feelings about the cost of living for locals and her disgust at how other locals try and rip off their own kind.

She also admitted that when we’d offered her a drink the first time, she’d been really, really shocked and touched. In all her time cleaning, she has never once been offered a drink by any of the other tenants and guests.

The next morning comes and “Yoo hoo, darlings, are you here?” is shouted through our door. In Esther breezes with a warm, brown paper package. “I’ve brought you a roti…don’t eat it now, save it for later and then heat it up for your lunch”. And out she breezes again with a “See you next week, darlings”.

The simple offer of a glass of water shows someone you care. It shows respect and ultimately, it shows love.

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