How a stranger helped me get to Réunion Island
I was super excited to visit the Réunion Island and visit my friend there. I have never travelled so far before and this time I was ready. I heard about the sharks, the volcano, the culture and I was all for it, the whole idea of travelling so far was really thrilling and also super exciting. I thought the only hurdle that I would have is the visa as I did not have a separate visa for Réunion and I was hoping that they would consider it as a part of the Schengen area as it is technically part of France. I am not the best with time management and it happened again. I had to pack my luggage in a hurry and leave for Gent St pieters station, I made it to the train from Gent to Lille just 3 minutes before departure. I thought I was in for the final journey. I had two train tickets with me, one ticket to Lille and one from Lille to the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to take the flight to Réunion. I was listening to music and taking a small nap, while the ticket collector came to check the ticket, He checked it and told me that I should have gotten down at a stop earlier at Kortrijk and that I should have changed to another train (It was not mentioned on the ticket), he suggested that I get down at the next station and get a cab by going to a bar (The only one in the town) and making a call. I went to the bar and no one had any clue what I was talking about.
They were all French speaking, I said taxi and they were clueless, I went to almost every shop and store I could find (they laughed at me when I said the word taxi). I did not even know where I was ( It was a small village called Kommen with literally zero taxis), I needed to be at the Lille train station in 45 minutes to catch the flight to Paris. I was on the middle of the road trying to spot a face that speaks english and by then I was already panicking, I knew that I have to be there in 45 minutes and that meant that I could catch a bus, I needed a car. I saw a guy coming to me and he was quite drunk, I was desperate and I explained him the situation. He suggested that I should walk about 10 minutes in one direction and that I would cross the Belgian – French border where I can catch a bus or a taxi. I did not trust what he was saying completely, because he was not very clear so I walked for about a minute and looked back if he wasn’t looking and came back to where I got down, the train stop.
I asked random people for taxi numbers, I gave these numbers to a friend, who was also trying to call cab companies and asking if they could drop me to Lille, to my dismay, no one was interested. After running here and there I saw a train coming, I had no clue which train that was, I asked every person who got down including the ticket collector from that train (He thought I should cross over the border as well), if they knew about taxis in the place and there was this one guy, he spoke some broken english, he told me that he will show me where it is, I just followed him like he was God, he told me taxis will be expensive even if we found one ( he spoke in french), I said, I want to just go to the airport, he said ” I have car “, I followed him like a puppy.
This man understood that I did not have much time and he was running to get to his car for me, I felt that I could trust him, I was desperate anyway. We got into the car and I have this whole impression that he wants a lot of money for this, I was more worried about the time to take the money from the ATM and wanted to send the money over a bank transfer later. I kept thinking about this and told him thanks quite a few times for the help he was doing. I asked him about what he does and about his life, he seemed like a humble person, he goes to Brussels to work everyday and he has a family. Meanwhile I also tried to assure him that I will pay him no matter what, he always just said ” I no taxi”, I always reply saying that I know that, and that I would pay him in cash. I took his number and told him that if there is no time, I would contact him to give him the money, I don’t know if he understood anything that I wanted to say. I know that he drove me to the Lille station like my life was at risk and took me to Lille in under 25 minutes to reach the train station 7 minutes before the train departed and the moment came when I had to leave, I told him that I will have to send him the money after I get back home as there was no time then to withdraw cash.
He just told this ” I do this for you, for friend, I don’t want money, I do it for you”. I felt really grateful and so lucky to have met this person who made me believe in humanity all over again with a simple help for another human being in need. After I got into the train, I was overwhelmed by what had happened and kind of lost track of time and what I was doing. I get a text message from him asking me if I caught the train in time and that he was sorry for his bad english (which was not bad at all). I got really emotional and I decided that I will try to return this to a stranger when I am given this opportunity. I was right about the visa and I did have an wonderful time in Réunion (you can see my experience here).
Spread love with humanity.