Growing up in Manila, I was told not to trust strangers. They can con you, pick your pocket or give you poisoned candy. I’ve long wielded this wariness of people as a shield, and this has served me well as a single, cautious woman traveling solo. Yet lately, I’ve had to reevaluate this advice.
In southern France, I had to take a train from Avignon to Peypin, a town 100km away. At the station, my friend insisted that I memorize her instructions. A woman who introduced herself as Sonia, overhearing our conversation, jumped in and said she was headed there too and would make sure I didn’t get lost.
As the train rumbled off, I engaged in small talk – not easy for an introvert with trust issues. “Your earrings are beautiful,” I said. I soon learned that Sonia was in town for work. “I just exorcised bad spirits from a house,” she said nonchalantly, her business card declaring her a “spirit warrior and psychic”.
She regaled me with stories of her gift for seeing spirits, and how it had been handed down in her family for generations. As we approached Peypin, she gave me a hug. “I’m very glad I met you,” she said. She took off her silver dangle earrings, saying, “I want you to have this. Now I’ll always be with you.”