On Being A Guest and Traveling

View from our villa in Saint Agatha

We are traveling through Italy, and I have so enjoyed the beauty of this country but also the kindness of strangers and our hosts. Sarika and I have been using Airbnb throughout the trip. 

I have so loved the experience of enjoying a well-lived home wherever it may be. In the rush of leaving, we left the place orderly, but we did not wash the dishes. Later on, our host would send us a note with feedback, that it would have been nice if we had washed the dishes. She said it was requested in the house rules.

Upon learning this, I felt embarrassed and a bit disappointed in myself. If I were in any family or friends place, I would surely have washed the dishes and put the sheets into the washer, etc. But, at this Airbnb, I assumed that washing of dishes were a part of the cleaning fee for the apartment. 

I began to see that I had relied on the ethos of “transaction” of renting the apartment to set the ground rules for engaging with our hosts. We were customers and our hosts were selling a product. That being said, they did not treat us as customers, they treated us as their guests. They brought all these extra toys for Lila, and went above and beyond to help us get situated and feel comfortable. They entrusted us in their home with 300 year old furniture and a well-lived home, which was comfortable and welcoming. 

Sarika and I spoke about this and would reflect further about the role of kindness, what it means to travel and our desire to not simply be consumers of beauty and experiences. Even if we were paying for the apartment, perhaps washing dishes so the work of the cleaning service would be a little lighter that day. 

I am left thinking about my automated ways of thinking as a consumer. I am humbled by the graciousness and kindness of our hosts. And, the desire I have to practice kindness wherever we go, but the inner spaciousness to notice my assumptions and actions.