I had always imagined that traveling taught me not to judge people before getting to know them, ever. It appears I'm still learning.
After a long and tiring day's ride through the mountains, Paul and I went for a late dinner in Huanta. Huanta is a small highland town in the Peruvian Andes. Nothing much ever happens here; the central square is usually pretty empty, with a few indigenous women selling food, vegetables and fruit. In the late afternoon, the rains start.
The place we found was a small family grill; it was busy with people eating and chatting, waiters running around, heat and cooking smells emanating from the kitchen. We both were exhausted and famished.
As we waited for our food we noticed a bunch of Cool Dudes next to our table. You know the kind; twenty something, wearing oversized hats and bling, loud and obnoxious, laughing and trying to look tough. As our food arrived, the Cool Dudes got louder, kicking at chairs, punching each other and howling with laughter. I couldn't help but get annoyed. Why couldn't we just enjoy our food in peace and quiet?
At the same time I noticed a small, skinny old man outside of the diner. He was staring at people eating through the window. His clothes were wrinkly like he'd slept in them, and he had a big bag of garbage in his hands. A worn, filthy backpack on his shoulders. A gaze that wandered slightly. As he kept staring, I realized the man was probably homeless. Probably hungry.
Meanwhile, the Cool Dudes were toasting something with a bottle of Inka Cola, getting even noisier.
I kept glancing at the homeless man outside, not sure what to do. Should I buy him some food?
It started raining.
And then, as I couldn't make my mind up about what to do and got more and more irritated by the loud guys' table, one of the Cool Dudes got up, went outside, talked to the homeless man and invited him inside. He bought the man a generous dinner and a drink and made sure the waiters served him immediately before going back to his friends.
For some reason, I suddenly found myself not knowing what to do with my eyes.