I slowly pushed my trolley out of Arrivals at 1:15am, intending to sit in the airport until departing on the 8am flight home to Aitutaki. As I passed a few people sitting on a bench encircling a tree, a woman I didn’t recognise said, “Welcome home, Sweetie.” I think she recognised me from the photo above my Saturday column in CINews. Rather desperate for the loo, I asked her to watch my bags while I went.
After I came back, we started chatting. Finally, I asked her name. I casually mentioned that I planned to stay in the airport to await my final flight. “No, you’re not,” she said, “you’re coming home with me.”
At first I thought, “I don’t even know her,” and politely turned down her invitation. As we continued to talk, she once again urged me to come home and at least rest for a while on a comfortable bed. So, I accepted. She was there because she had agreed to fill in as a taxi driver for any stranded passengers. At that moment two young women and a baby emerged from the arrivals area. They had no actual address for the villa where they were meant to stay, and so the driver “guessed” from what they told her. We ended up going up and down various driveways, making calls from her cell phone, and after an hour, discovered that the place was actually back where we had come from in the opposite direction.
One of the young women, whose cell phone was dying, finally found the message her aunt had sent her, but still with no clear directions. “It’s a house with a green peaked roof, and it’s ‘lagoon’ something.” As it was pitch black, color was not helpful. And “lagoon” didn’t help either. Oy!
My hostess later told me that this was a common occurrence and that she often spent hours searching for her passengers’ accommodation. Throughout the hour and a half we drove around, never once did she show anything but patience and kindness, even after the young women finally arrived at their destination. When I acknowledged her for these virtues, she said, “Well, really for me, this is a service. Others would have just dropped them off, but I can’t do that.”
I thought to myself, “Maybe she really is an angel,” as there was not a trace of annoyance at what had happened, despite the lack of any apology from the passengers. We finally arrived at her home about 3:30am. It was immaculately clean, and she gave me a choice of two beautiful bedrooms, one of which had a king size bed with a dozen pillows, and a sparkling clean bathroom beside it. I had a few hours of deep sleep and awoke in time to return to the airport with time to spare for my flight. I wanted to reimburse her at least for the petrol she had used, but she refused. A good thing, as I only had a few New Zealand dollars in my wallet.
As we chatted, I noticed the sweetness in her voice, and the virtues sprinkled in her language. Where in the world would you find this kind of hospitality, which this woman generously offers to weary travelers?
Her husband, who drove me back to the airport said, “You’re not the first, and you won’t be the last.” Even though the taxi was part of their livelihood, he didn’t expect payment either. Virtues are alive and well in Paradise.
Hebrews 13:2 says, “Be not forgetful”.