New York City can be a depressing place. The people can be callous and cold. So when I traveled to Central Africa, the most shocking thing was how genuine and friendly the locals were, and I thought to myself; this is why I travel.
A few days after returning to New York I took a bike ride, and miles from my house in an unfamiliar residential neighborhood in Queens, I got a flat. I sat down on the curb and took out a map.
A man pushing a stroller with two children stopped in front of me and told me there was a bike shop nearby. I started walking, pushing the bike alongside me. A few houses down an elderly man stepped out of his car and offered me two bikes. “They are just sitting in my garage now, so you can take them if you think you can use them,” he said. (I picked them up the next week.) Three blocks later and I was at the bike shop. The repairs would cost $14. I had nine. They did it anyway, no questions asked.
Routine can make anyplace seem dull and unbending, but a fresh perspective reveals beauties that have been hidden by their normalcy; and that is the reason I travel.