Eastern Hospitality

A Pristine Beach on Sand Hill Island

Our last full day on Prince Edward Island sounded promising. We had made reservations in Alberton to take a boat tour to see the Blue Heron colony and to visit Sand Hill Island. We couldn't have asked for better weather, and we made sure to arrive 30 minutes early. We didn't want to run the risk of missing our excursion!

The tour was provided through a local inn, but when I tried to pay the lady, she refused. "Pay me afterwards," she said.

I was taken completely by surprise by her complete trust in total strangers, but I put my wallet back in my pocket.

"I hope you don't mind," she added nonchalantly, "but the ride will be about twenty minutes late."

We didn't mind. We were becoming used to the slow pace of life on the island. In fact, it was one of the things that endeared us to this beautiful place! We made our way to the dock and settled down on the grass to wait in the sunshine. I took a welcomed nap. My wife didn't fare so well. She made three trips back to the van to retrieve items that the boys had conveniently forgotten. I think she was relieved when the pontoon boat finally arrived!

The boat driver was the owner of the inn, and he welcomed us warmly, as did Clancy, his chocolate lab. When he went back to the office for a few minutes, Clancy decided to stay with us. I guess he sensed that we hadn't seen our Golden Retriever in three weeks, and we, especially my wife and boys, were feeling "dog" lonely!

Clancy was an amazing dog. While his owner was at the office, he stole a pair of his master's socks. We figured he would just chew on them, as our dog would have done. Imagine our surprise when he swallowed it whole!

"He must be hungry!" observed one of the boys. "But who would want to eat a dirty sock?"

On our way to the island, we had the opportunity to see plenty of beautiful waterfowl. Besides the abundance of Blue Herons, we saw cormorants, black-backed gulls, Bonaparte gulls, and hosts of others that we couldn't identify. Our guide made us feel right at home. He told us about local business and attractions, and when we arrived at the island, he asked us how long we would like to stay. We decided on an hour, and when we crawled out of the boat, Clancy joined us! He didn't seem to care at all that his master left. He had utmost faith that he would return, and in the meantime, he could enjoy exploring this uninhabited island with us!

A beautiful lighthouse stood on the island, but what intrigued us the most was the pristine coastline. The water was warm to the touch, as was the sand. The beach extended for miles around this Edenic atmosphere, and because so few tourists ever came here, there was a crust on the top of the sand, making it a lot easier to walk! We soon found ourselves walking barefoot, feeling very much like we were reliving some of the moments that the Swiss Family Robinson must have experienced!

Clancy stayed with us the entire way, obeying us as if we were his master. On our way back, however, he suddenly ran out into the water and wouldn't return. It took us awhile to see what he heard from afar: His master's boat! It was only with difficulty that we were able to motivate him to stay with us until the pontoon boat reached the beach.

Our return trip was interesting as well. The pilot took us through the harbor and showed us the variety of fishing boats. He told us stories of his family, stories of fishing, stories of life in Albertton, and generally made us feel like we were important. As soon as we were out of the main channel, he even handed over the wheel to my oldest son. Then, because his brother was turning green with envy, he took us well past his dock so that my youngest son could pilot the boat as well!

As I went to the office to pay, I couldn't help wondering just how much I might be charged. Originally we had been quoted 25$ per person twelve and up; however just that morning we had seen in a travel brochure that the price had increased to 35$ per person. I was expecting to pay 105$, but instead of asking for my money, I was greeted with: "How was the trip?"

"It couldn't have been any better!" I responded heartily.

We talked a bit longer, and then I finally pulled out my wallet.

"Your kids are under 12, right?"

"One is, the other is twelve years old."

"That will be 50$ plus tax."

50$ for an almost three hours ride, plus an hour on a beautiful beach! I couldn't believe my ears. They had obviously remembered on the agreed price, AND they hadn't wanted to charge for my 12 year-old son!

We were sad to leave this delightful place, and we promised ourselves that we would return someday and spend an entire day on the island. Hopefully Clancy won't mind being our guide again!

What made the trip so special? The beauty around us, certainly, but much more than this, we were welcomed with open arms and treated like family. What a difference this makes! Being treated like royalty makes anyone feel special. Why don't we all try to treat others as if they were as important as ourselves? If we did, conflict would be avoided, and we would be living like Jesus did.

Making a difference in someone's life not only makes THEIR day special, but it makes YOURS special as well. Easterly hospitality can be practiced wherever you are. Let Jesus be your guide, and you WILL make a difference in someone's life!

"Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!" (Luke 6:31 The Message)

"Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others." (1 Cor 10:24 NIV)

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Phil 2:3-4 NIV)

Rob Chaffart

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