Please Sleep Inside Tonight

Sometimes you get more than you need AND more than you want.

That’s how it goes often goes with hitchhiking. Snacks and going out of the way for me are the most common things that I receive. I can’t give enough praise to all of my hitchhosts for these gifts. But there are two people that stand above and beyond all others–and I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t know their names. I asked–twice, in fact–but Icelandic isn’t understandable to me in the slightest. I can read a word and then hear it without realizing that they are in fact the same word. For the sake of the story, let’s call them Younger and Elder Guardian Angel.

Sidestory: Once I asked the name of a man running a hostel. He responded, “Something… unpronounceable.” He’s given up on foreigners’ Icelandic language skills.


They pulled up just as we were making plans to find a bus.
They were a mother and daughter on their way to the airport for a shopping holiday in Berlin. The mother didn’t speak any English but she got out of the car to help us fit our bags into the back. The daughter learned about our journey hitchhiking and camping throughout Iceland. She couldn’t believe that we’d camp in such cold conditions. We told her that we were going to get a hostel that night because the weather was supposed to become even worse. She was glad to hear it. Meanwhile, she’s translating everything that we’re saying for her mother.
They drove us two hours from Hvammstangi to Borgarnes, dropping us off at the information center so that we could find a good place to stay. As we climbed out of the car with our bags, they joined us to say farewell. The mother held out a bill.
It was a 10,000 kronor bill, which is roughly $71 dollars. 
The daughter said that her mother would like us to use it to buy a room for the night. We could see that a refusal wouldn’t be accepted so we took the money and basically kowtowed before them. I gave them each a garnet as we left–as is my tradition for all our hitchhosts–and they both seemed truly touched. It felt like I glided away.
I can't describe the feelings that followed.
I was amazed that these people not only trusted us enough to pick us up in the middle of nowhere, but they also cared enough to keep us out of the cold–and then some, since our room was only $50. And sure, they knew that we had money to stay in a hostel for the night but they also knew that this was just the beginning of a grand adventure and finances were indeed limited.
I felt guilty that I was the person who received the money and not someone who truly needed somewhere warm to rest their head for the night. I didn’t feel worthy of such a gift. I’m learning that part of receiving is to set your ego aside and to look at the gift not as a gift to you, but a gift to the whole world–a gift that you must continue passing along. It’s inspirational. And this feeling is exactly what I hope to give others as well.
Some people think that you shouldn't accept help.

When I told our host in Reykjavik about this gift, he said that he simply would’ve refused it and that would’ve been that. But when you accept a gift, you’re giving the other person a gift too. I was the vehicle through which that kind woman could feel validated as a good person, which I can assure you, she is. I only wish that I could give her more than that. And that I had her contact information. Always travel with a small notebook to record such important things.

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