Time and again we meet amazing people exhibiting kindness and generosity everywhere we go. And time and again for us, it goes back to Dar. It’s ludicrous that we haven’t talked about Dar yet. He epitomized how amazing complete strangers can be. Appropriately, his name translates as “to give” en español- a cosmic, if not Cambodian, coincidence.
We walked into the country’s oldest continuously operating farmers’ market, located in Harrisburg, PA
and Adam cannonballed into a conversation with the first person he saw. This was a Cambodian immigrant and former marine who fought for the U.S. in the First Persian Gulf War. (Too many Persian Gulf Wars!) Soon all three of us were crowded around a table helping Dar perfect his list of the countries, complete with capitals, that have emerged from the former Yugoslavia. (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, not Albania… their differences and similarities are fascinating. Serbs and Croats speak the same language, but write it in different alphabets!)
Anyway, Dar was so impressed by our knowledge of largely neglected European countries, by the idea of our trip, and by the existence of Couchsurfing.org that he bought us wicked frickin’ tasty fried salmon sandwich dinners from one of the other posts at the closing farmers’ market. Dar made our day with his generosity and even more so with his good spirits and the great conversation we shared.
Among the things we learned from that conversation:
1) Dar works at the Hershey factory in Hershey, PA. The company lets the employees eat as much as they want off the assembly line. And yes, Dar says, this results in some mega-obese employees. “They can barely walk.”
2) The vendors (including Dar’s wife, Sita) feel they have an insufficient say in the operations of the now-corporate farmers’ market.
3) When we asked Dar about his experiences in the Gulf War, he told us that there are times “in every man’s life when he questions himself and what he is doing.” We asked how he felt about what he’d done and seen there. He denounced war while speaking of the ambivalence he held, not quite understanding exactly how or why what he was doing was wrong, he “had a sense that there was just something not right about it, you know?”
3.5) He punctuated lots of things with “you know.”
4) Dar believes in free enterprise and at least some of the ideas of capitalism, but worries that large corporations have a hold on the political process and fix the rules to favor themselves at the expense of workers and small businesses.
Posted from the lobby of the Delray Beach Marriott- a gathering ground for inspiring people of all generations.