We were amidst the heat and noise of a border crossing in Central America. We’d been warned of the bribery and corruption that we should expect. Even after all the border crossings we’d done by this time, we were uneasy. An officer strode directly towards us. He was wearing a black paramilitary outfit. The crowd of other people trying to cross the border parted without a word.
With a stern expression on his face he looked us up and down, and then across at our bikes. His fingers were drumming on the pistol that was in the shiny black leather holster at his waist. “Where are you going?” he demanded. By now I was very nervous. Perhaps this was the border crossing we wouldn’t be able to talk our way through. “Um, into El Salvador we hope.” I replied. Waiting for the demand for money to come…
But no, now smiling he said, “You come with me. I’ll help you through all of this. You can do it on your own, but it’ll take you a very long time!” He grinned again. “No, no, I don’t want money. I am happy to help two people having such wonderful adventures.” His only fee was that he loved western pop music. Would I sing for him?
Never has the Beatles, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ been so mangled! But he was happy. Smiling, he waved us on to the next adventure and then turned back to face whatever his own day would bring next.
Why do we so often assume that people are bad, until they prove other wise? “Surely the best way is to assume that people are good, until they prove otherwise.
It would make us all easier to get on with, and therefore happier, wouldn’t it?”You can find the full story in my book Distant Suns.