In 2013 I paddled the entire length of the Mississippi river.

In 110 days I paddled 3750 kilometers, crossing America from Lake Itasca, Mn to the Gulf of Mexico. I passed through 10 different states, experiencing an amazing adventure, as well as hart-warming kindness.

The beginning of the river was untouched, overgrown and very hard to navigate. The first few days I was completely isolated from the world.

I decided to paddle the entire river because I was in search of adventure, and I wanted to document the increasing pollution of the Mississippi.

I had also just walked from England to Rome, and had injured my foot. I needed an adventure where I could sit with my feet up all day. So I decided to paddle a kayak down one of the longest rivers in the world.

In the end my journey down the great river was a personal journey where my faith in the kindness of humans was completely restored.

I passed through big cities and small villages, I met hill-billies, and red necks. I met rich people who had expensive vacation villa’s right on the river banks, but I also met families that had lost everything during Hurricane Katrina.

Every time I entered a new state, I was told my adventure was too dangerous.

People told me I would be robbed, raped, and killed. I would drown, get lost, or be attacked by wild animals. They were shocked to hear that I didn’t carry any guns whatsoever.

In the north I was warned about the crime in the south, but in the south they said the folks in the north were unfriendly and arrogant. It seemed that every state had their opinions on other states.

After paddling through the 10 different states along the Mississippi, I noticed that every state has their own opinions, and view of the rest of America. However, all of them were the same in their incredible kindness and generosity towards me.

Everywhere I went I was met with help and support from the locals.

Some brought me meals, others gave me fruits and snacks, or replenished my water. Some Americans bought bags full of groceries to restock my supply. Some let me sleep on their yachts, gave me a bed in their house, or let me take a highly welcomed shower.

I told someone my solar charger had broken. Later that day he chased my down in his power boat, and surprised me with a brand new unit.

Just as I arrived in a small town called Hannibal, it started raining. A man ran outside and yelled: “My keys are on the dashboard, you can take my truck into town if you want.” The man had somehow assumed I needed help, and offered it without thinking twice.

Near St. Louis a local boat club organized a party for my arrival with drinks and food. Lots of people visited, many of them turned out to be people I had met on the river in the weeks leading up to St. Louis.

For all these people I was a stranger at first.

Still, they helped me as if I was part of their family. I’ve come to believe that this generosity is part of our human nature. But nowadays, in a world with billions of people we don’t offer it so quickly, because many people act offended when offered help.

People believe you’re supposed to take care of yourself, independence gives status.

I looked like someone who could use a hand. My clothes looked dirty, my face unshaven. People recognized that I would appreciate their help, and so they offered.

Even on the last day, as I reached the Gulf of Mexico, I was picked up in the sea by a local fisherman, who didn’t have much money to spare. He brought me and my kayak back to civilization, and I ended up staying with him and his family for almost a week.

I didn’t just experience this kindness on the Mississippi River. I experienced it on all of my adventures in all corners of the world.

There may be many differences between the cultures of the world, but we are all connected in the small things we do for strangers in need.

People told me I would be robbed, raped, and killed. I would drown, get lost, or be attacked by wild animals. They were shocked to hear that I didn’t carry any guns whatsoever.