Day 103/365 - On the kindness of strangers



We said good-bye to Costa Rica and left for the arduous road back. After our 4+ hour drive into San Jose, I started to feel really sick and couldn’t face breakfast. Instead, I got progressively worse and realized I was coming down with food poisoning, or a 24-hour bug of some sort. Not to be too graphic, but it was bad. Somehow I made it on the plane to Miami, and happened to sit next to a nice young man who offered some activated charcoal. I gladly accepted and was able to feel better to hold a conversation for a while...but then I felt chills and was feverish for the remainder of the flight.

I had so many thoughts running through my head, and fears that it was a worse malady that I initially thought. I had to be wheelchaired out of the plane and was offered to be escorted to a Miami Emergency Room. After I declined, I had no options for help - except for another kind stranger who was on wheelchair duty. He volunteered his help and said he would help my husband and I make it to our transfer flight. I put on a bright face when needed and cooperated with the personnel; I’d get sick and the man slowed pace and held me while I heaved. I have never been so grateful for this total act of intimate kindness from someone who had absolutely no obligation to do so. It turned out that the man, named Jorge, was Cuban and studied for some time in Ukraine (where I was raised) and married his teacher in military school. They are happily married with a big family now; he spoke fluent Russian and says his wife speaks Spanish. His story and mild mannerisms made one of my worst experiences into a pleasant one. My husband and I were grateful beyond words, and boarded the plane safely. I was even able to keep down ginger ale (served by a pleasant concerned flight attendant), coconut water and some salty pretzels. I was on my way to recovery, humbled tremendously, and with renewed faith in humanity.