A woman whose dreams of traveling were thwarted by travel costs finally got her dream

Laura Belfield features in today’s Glamour, and her story, “Time Wasters” — which includes the moment of contact with the Great Wall of China — is a testament to how much the chance to travel still matters to both women and men. Belfield got lucky when her Chinese guide offered to cover the cost of her luggage, which at this point amounted to just $500. The pair started walking along a river, but even then her own bags were more exciting.

“I knew that I didn’t want to carry my personal things,” Belfield writes. “I started to lose confidence in myself. In the corner of my eye, I could see a small American flag flapping in the wind. It was almost twenty feet long. I fell into my pajamas. Where’s my birth certificate? Where’s my passport? My life! What am I doing here?”

Eventually, the pair ended up on a roof, where they put on a set of Chinese-style clothes and wandered down a series of shrines and mountains. Eventually, though, things seemed to become too real, and Belfield’s doubts melted away when she spoke to a middle-aged woman sitting nearby.

“‘How are you today?’ I asked. She spoke limited English, but she told me that the phone was busy, her husband had jumped in the river, and they couldn’t get home. ‘Can you tell me about the time you saved my life, being in the middle of the river?’”

Belfield decided that, for at least that brief moment, she felt more like a human being than an insect.

“‘Once upon a time,’ she said, ‘there was a woman with no shoes and no coat. I asked her to sit by the bridge. Once she got there, she got wet, got scared, and then she started yelling. We heard her screams from hundreds of feet away,’ the woman said. The hair on my neck stood on end. The phone didn’t work, so she couldn’t call me. ‘I was the first person who could hear her screams,’ she said. ‘’You saved her life. You saved my life.’”

Read the full story at Glamour.

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