This is a story about the kindness of strangers.
Don George put together a wonderful compilation of stories from some of the best travel writers on the planet.
The book, aptly titled, The Kindness of Strangers, is about,
“A timely collection of inspiring tales…explores the unexpected human connections that so often transform the experience of travel, and celebrates the gift of kindness around the world.”
This is a wonderful book about the often life changing situations that impart on us a real sense of the potential for human kindness.
My story happens to be about a buying a bottle of booze.
I have never really understood Duty Free shops.
Of course I have seen them in countless airports and even aboard a ship on a midnight crossing of the Baltic while in a Euro-train sleeper car that happened to be in the belly of that ship. To be honest, I somehow assumed that as an American I could not take advantage of the supposed lower Duty Free prices for personal necessities such as alcohol.
I have always figured that anything I bought there would either be confiscated once I returned to the U.S. or, at a minimum, be taxed.
I had already almost gotten busted once for attempting to return from Mexico with what was apparently considered contraband and I certainly did not need another blemish on my personal passport file.
(The fact that the item that attracted the attention of the fine gentleman with the U.S. Customs uniform was a few carrot sticks–yes, the kind that Bugs Bunny crunches–will have to be a story for a subsequent post.)
While I was hanging out in the Cabo, Mexico, airport a few months ago, waiting for my flight, I was wandering around the many Duty Free shops in that little airport transit area and noticed a sign.
Now that sign would have me believe that, as a traveler to the United States, I could buy stuff and take it home.
The sentence applicable to people going to the U.S. reads,
“Travelers are able to purchase any Duty Free products.
I guess a lawyer-type person might notice that says you can BUY any Duty Free product.
It says nothing about your being able to actually get the item home.
My fist clue there might be an issue is when I noticed that they sold Cuban cigars…the kind really from Cuba.
Unless “W” has recently eased the travel and trade restrictions with Cuba, I just did not wish to risk another “carrot” incident.
While comtemplating the mysteries of the merchandising of Duty Free items, I had a particularly interesting experience while cruising the the well-stocked liquor aisles.
While I was bent over trying to figure out one bottle of Scotch from another, I sensed that someone had rapidly approached me from the rear as I could feel his breath on my neck and hear him pant.
Apparently he had spotted a particular brand that was the object of his desire and intense excitement.
I have never been a Scotch drinker–yes it’s true, I’ve lead a limited life–and was actually looking for a gift for someone back home.
This guy behind me regales me with a dissertation of a type of Scotch that was only available in Duty Free shops– this 12 year old Macallan Elegancia that we were both looking at–that he claimed was absolutely fantastic and not always available even in the Duty Free shops.
Well, since I owed someone a nice gift–and since this someone is a Scotch drinker–I bought two bottles: yes, one was for me. (The guy bought either two or maybe even four.)
And, now I am a professed Scotch drinker.
And, yes this stuff is REALLY smooth.
But I did appreciate the kindness of this stranger and the time this dude spent explaining to me the intricacies of various brands of Scotch and even the best method to enjoy drinking Scotch (pour the Scotch over a few ice cubes and let them melt for a few minutes).
Just think how good this Scotch would taste while puffing on a choice Cohiba.
Maybe I could hollow out a carrot and…