The kindness of strangers evokes feelings of thanks

Chef Ariel Escorcia was one of the individuals who helped U.S. expats remember Thanksgiving Thursday. There also were a number of private dinners where turkey was the featured main course. Escorcia works at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in San José where waitresses dressed as native Americans to serve the meal.
Jo Stuart recounts her Thanksgiving experiences in her column today

I do believe I have come of age. Tuesday I was standing across the street from Saretto’s in Escazú hoping to hail a taxi, and a young woman came up to me and asked if I would like her to help me cross the street. I said “No, thank you.” Then Wednesday I left the AutoMercado in Plaza Mayor with two bags full of sugar and cream to make my Christmas chocolate, worried about how I was going to manage to get home. I had nothing smaller than a 10,000 note in my bag and couldn’t even tip a bag boy to help me, and I knew, that taxistas usually will not take anything larger than a 5,000-colon note.

Kilos of sugar and the same of cream weigh a lot, so I took a cart to the edge of the plaza where the ATM was. After getting some smaller bills, I saw a taxi leaving the plaza and tried to wave to it to no avail. A young woman passing me said, “I will get you that taxi.” And off she went. After some maneuvering, the taxi came back, and, as I picked up my two heavy bags, a grey hair, bespectacled gentleman who was about to limp past me, immediately picked up one and helped me put them both in the front seat of the taxi.

When the taxi stopped in front of my apartment building, and as I was getting out, the taxista said, “I will help you.” (How often does that happen?). I said, “Thank you, they are heavy.” Picking them out of the taxi, he said, “They are heavy for me, too.”

This comment made me feel a little less decrepit.

After I deposited my bags in the kitchen of my apartment, I realized how concerned I had been, and the universe must have been listening because someone had appeared at every step of the way to give me a hand. So often, in our own busy lives, we don’t even notice someone who could use a little help. I was already thankful the day before Thanksgiving for the kindness of strangers who had noticed me.

More was to come. John and Cathy, two people who are related to two dear friends of mine as well as friends of mine themselves, invited me, along with about 20 other persons for Thanksgiving dinner.

The trip on the highway past the airport was a driver’s nightmare of gigantic trucks and long stops and longer lines of cars. How much everything has changed in the past 20 years, I thought.

But once in the country and in the house where there already was gathered a circle of new friends talking like old friends, I forgot the drive – although I am sure that Harry who did the actual driving, may not have felt quite the same – poured myself a glass of wine, and became part of the group. During the course of the afternoon I met people from Germany to Alabama to Costa Rica.

When we all gathered around the buffet of some 15 different platters of the pot luck Thanksgiving feast (the best way to have a Thanksgiving dinner), someone said grace, and someone else suggested that anyone who felt like it could say what they were thankful for or what they were looking forward to this Thanksgiving.

One guest raised his glass and said, “I think all of us here already are the lucky ones. We’re in Costa Rica together aren’t we?” Or at least that is what I heard and felt.

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