When I visited Puerto Vallarta on a business trip, I observed that the city had two realities. One reality was that of the wealthy, who lived in luxury and comfort; while the other was that of most other people who struggled to make ends meet.
The poverty I saw in the city saddened me, and when I returned to my hotel, the contrast between the two settings was difficult to ignore. The hotel was spacious, luxurious, and well-serviced. It was suddenly uncomfortable to stay there, knowing that most of the city lived in hardship.
The following day, I wanted to make a slight difference and leave a positive mark while I was there. So I decided to help a few people in the area by offering words of encouragement and giving them some money. One of the hotel’s servers helped me get in touch with Alejandro–a driver who would accompany me through the city. Little did I know that this was the beginning of an emotional journey and a friendship.
We started by converting 1,000 dollars into pesos, which I planned to give out along with the other 2,000 dollars I had on me. Alejandro was very open to my questions and ready to take me to the slums and poorest areas of Puerto Vallarta. He also helped me communicate with locals since I don’t speak much Spanish.
As we drove down the road, we handed out some money to people passing by. Those who received it looked surprised and skeptical at first, but soon their faces relaxed into smiles.
We then knocked on doors to meet the locals, hear their stories, and share some kindness with them. This led to meeting beautiful families and forging new friendships.
However, the best part was meeting kids in a local school. We were greeted with curious looks and smiles as we entered. The teacher told us they don’t often have guests, so they were especially grateful for our support. I felt a connection with them, as I was once in their shoes. I told the kids that they could change their life with hard work, honesty, and treating others well. As Alejandro translated my words, I saw the kid’s eyes widen, and their faces light up with interest. I also gave money to a teacher for her and the children. The beautiful moment ended with a group hug.
Soon, it was time to say goodbye to my new friend Alejandro and his wonderful country, Mexico. I paid him extra so that he could buy gifts for his children. The next day, while traveling to the airport, I could still feel the positive energy surging through my body. As I waited for the plane, I felt tears of joy roll down my cheeks. I felt grateful for the memories I had made in Mexico.
Memories that would stay with me forever!