• John Ryan

Day 64: An angel in a pickup

Updated: Jun 15, 2018

19 April, 2018



I began the day without ever finishing yesterday. My stomach sent constant reminders to my mind of how it was not at all ok, and thus I did not sleep.


I was eating some bread at a place I could find food and some relief from the heat near the bus stop. I was trying to settle my gut enough to make the 4 to 6 hour (depending on traffic) public bus trip with one bathroom stop allowed. Once I reached the capital, I would maneuver the next step on the journey, having to haggle for motorcycle rides and clutch onto the back with my luggage through the tight city streets, the sun burning me. I knew not how I would make it in my current state of illness and weakness. I was out of options, and I knew only to pray. I dreaded everything ahead of me.

...

A stranger sits next to me, and he eats in silence. I try to spark up conversation, but it doesn't take. As he finishes, I muster the last of my energy and ask if he happened to be going to the Port-au-Prince. If so, I ask if he could take me to the city's edge. He hesitates it seems and tells me he must to go to his office and then probably would be going. I offer to pay for gas if he does. He thinks a bit, then says he will be back in a little bit to get me. At this, he get's up and leaves. “Is he telling the truth? Maybe he just wants to get rid of me?” I wait, missing the bus in hope.


After a bit, a pickup truck pulls up, the stranger inside. He motions to me and in my foggy brain I look around to make sure he isn't someone else. Nope, just me there. I toss my bag in the back and hop in.


The air conditioning hits me like a welcomed storm front, cooling me in an instant. With each kilometer I let my body relax into the plush seat, still not quite convinced I am not dreaming in my near sleepless night. The man speeds through traffic, passing the slow-moving buses that climb the mountain roads along the way.


As we drive, he opened up, and we share of our lives, our cultures, our families. I made a friend. The edge of the city comes and disappears behind us as my new friend drives into the heart of Port-au-Prince.


We turn on the last of the side street turns on the other end of the city, and there is the gate to my final destination. There is no need for a motorcycle taxi, I am surprised and ecstatic at the thought of not having to find one in my condition. I never broke a sweat, I did not get sick, and we arrived in a third of the time.


I thank the man profusely (and possibly embarrassingly), holding out $40 for gas. He refuses. I put one twenty back, holding out $20. He refuses. I persist. He refuses. He politely assures me there is no way I am paying him. I blank for a bit, the reality of the kindness flushing across my skin. I get myself together enough to wish him and his family the best. He just smiles and leaves. I drop my luggage, and I weep.

...

Trying to grasp at my thoughts, thinking of this time when I had nothing left to offer, when I could no longer make it on my own strength, I am reminded of the power of kindness. And, in one of those rare moments where I realize my place in this vividly alive reality, I am humbled to think that this world may be nothing more than a network of people that need one another.