Not always stranger danger

I have taught my children to take care. Not to accept lifts from strangers. You know the routine. Yet I also have a fundamental belief that nearly all strangers are people worth knowing. In my own dealings with people I haven’t met before I pay attention to my instincts of course but often err on the side of trust unless proven wrong. That offers opportunities for discovery and interaction that would be lost to excessive caution.

Traveling on a budget, and usually alone, of course makes this not just a philosophy but a pragmatic solution. It sometimes feels that each day is a series of decisions of who to trust and with what. Too cautious and things are more difficult than they need to be, too credulous and the risks go up. Which stranger I meet on a bus who invites me to their home is to be trusted and welcomed as a friend, and which is best politely declined?

One of the incidents I remember when making these evaluations was on a beach in Algeciras. I fell asleep in the sun, exhausted from my Moroccan travels of the previous few days.
algeciras stranger2

It was a couple of weeks later that I picked up my photos from the chemist (pre-digital cameras anticipation was so much more part of the holiday photo ritual) and discovered this one.
For this photo to exist somebody must have walked by, got my camera out of my bag, taken the picture and put the camera back. My passport and money were in my bag too but left alone. I have no idea who took the photo but it was a sweet gesture and gave me that rare thing for a solo traveller – the unaware picture, the captured moment.



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