Traveling: Dangerous business

I sat on the porch in the Australian late afternoon sun, shadows stretching long across the grass, cockatoos screaming through the bush canopy, sipping my tea, knitting. My mind wandered as the guys discussed the merits of following our instinct and road tripping right straight up through the red heart of Australia instead of the well traveled coastal route. There was a lull in the conversation.

“My Dad make that walking stick?” I changed the subject, pointing to a stick, with a sad face carved into the hand grip, sticking out of an oriental pot next to the front door of the mud brick house.

Robert nodded. He’s a man of few words.

Dad & RobertI smiled. My mother’s stained glass hangs in their big round window. There’s a photograph of my Dad and Robert hanging by the front door. In it they are young men wearing jalabas, standing under an umbrella with posed, stone faces, in front of a violent orange tent somewhere in North Africa.

“You see that number plate on the wall,” Jesse pointed out, the first morning at breakfast, “That’s off the bug we were driving in Africa when we picked up your parents.”

And so, I find myself as far away from my Canadian home as I could possibly be, and yet surrounded by my family. That’s a special kind of traveler’s magic. At every turn this weekend I’ve been reminded how the smallest act of kindness, the impulse of a moment can change the history of the world, or the path of a family, for generations.

Robert and Jesse picked up my parents, hitchhiking, in North Africa forty-some years ago. The rest, as they say, is a well-storied history. Last night Robert played his guitar and sang in his lilting Australian voice along with a fiddle played by the granddaughter of his long-time adventuring buddy.

I guess they’re right; the folks who say picking up hitchhikers is so dangerous. If you’re not careful, you might just change your world, the path of your life, the people you call friends and chosen family. You might end up weaving generations together on opposite sides of the planet in ways that enrich the lives of a stranger’s grandchildren. Dangerous business, this.

Posted by | Comments (1)  | September 24, 2013
Category: Backpacking

One Response to “Traveling: Dangerous business”

  1. Scott Says:

    The title of your article has nothing to do with its content.